Rheinmetall NIOA Munitions (RNM) plans to produce 25mm cannon ammunition for use by the Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter.

A new production line will be set up at a government-owned factory in the first half of 2021 to produce 25mm Frangible Armored Piercing (FAP) projectiles.

The ammunition will be available for the global F-35 user base, and will serve as a secondary source of cannon ammunition for USA operated F-35s.

RNM is a joint venture between Australia-owned NIOA and Rheinmetall Waffe Munitions.

The F-35A is equipped with a single GAU-22/A four-barrel rotary cannon in its left wing root, with a magazine capacity of 182 rounds. The F-35B short takeoff and vertical landing (STOVL) and F-35C naval variant have no internal cannon, but can carry an optional gun pod carrying the GAU-22/A with 220 rounds on their centerline station.

Produced by General Dynamics, the GAU-22/A is a lighter, smaller version of the GAU-12/U used aboard aircraft such the McDonnell Douglas AV-8B Harrier II and Lockheed Martin AC-130 gunship. It can achieve a cyclic rate of up to 3,300 rounds per minute.

“The demonstrated versatility, coupled with significant combat lethality, makes the GAU-22/A gun an ideal candidate for air, land and sea platforms requiring an effective weapon for a variety of missions against a broad range of targets,” says General Dynamics.

The Royal Australian Air Force has 18 in-service F-35As, and is in the process of acquiring 72 examples.