Lockheed Martin, which is competing against Boeing for the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), has baselined Germany's Mauser 27mm cannon for its bid, but is also considering the General Dynamics GAU-12 25mm three-barrel Gatling gun, with either weapon to be mounted in the aircraft's weapons bay.

According to Lockheed Martin JSF deputy programme manager Harry Blot, the US Air Force wants an internally mounted gun, while the US Marine Corps and the UK's Royal Navy favour a "clip-on" gun for some missions. The US Navy, backs the "missionised" gun concept.

As envisioned by Lockheed Martin, the USAF's JSF variant would have the weapon permanently mounted on one of two weapons bay doors. It would be fired with the door closed through a hole in the fuselage.

For the other military services, the strap-on gun would take up a weapons station on a door. As an air-to-ground weapon, the gun would be fired with the door swung open. The air-to-air missile displaced by the gun would be mounted on an external wing pylon.

The JSF teams are expected to select their guns this autumn, before engineering and manufacturing development begins. Boeing JSF project officials are also evaluating both weapons, but say they are "impressed with the Mauser gun's low recoil loads and blast control-making it very effective to put into the JSF".

The GAU-12 arms the Boeing AV-8B Harrier. The Mauser BK 27 will be on the Eurofighter Typhoon. The single barrel, gas-operated weapon is an improvement on the Mauser weapon in the Panavia Tornado.

If selected, Boeing's Mesa, Arizona, operation would produce up to 3,000 BK27 cannons under licence from Mauser. Primex Technologies would produce a high-explosive, dual-purpose 27mm round for the weapon. Western Design would provide the linear linkless feed and case recovery system.

Late last month, the BK27 was test fired from a ground test stand in Arizona.

Source: Flight International