The UK Ministry of Defence is considering giving its helicopter forces more firepower by replacing the 7.62mm (0.3in) general purpose machine gun (GPMG) which is now in use in the door-gun role with a more powerful weapon.

The UK's move towards installing a new door gun was also instigated as a result of concerns over the accuracy of the pintle-mounted weapon.

The GPMG, which entered service with the army as an infantry weapon in the 1950s, is increasingly seen as obsolete. The Royal Air Force also wants to replace the XM134 7.62mm miniguns which are mounted on its Boeing Chinook HC2s.

One option which is being considered is a 12.7mm (0.50in) calibre machine gun for use in the special forces helicopter role.

The British Army is thought to have wanted a Heckler & Koch GPMG as a straight replacement, but the other services are considering a move away from 7.62mm ammunition, which has limited hitting power and a restricted range of ammunition types compared to 12.7mmammunition, according to an MoD study on the weapon.

One option that has been studied by the UK for use in the special forces helicopter role is the FN M3M version of the Browning M1 12.7mm calibre machine gun, which is believed to have been used in flight trials.

Source: Flight International