On July 1, 2018, we announced that US Air Force Fighter Pilots Will Fly With A new Rifle
Today U.S. Air Force’s 3rd Wing announced on his Facebook page that the F-22 pilots receive their modern GAU-5A automatic rifles
A new modified M4 Rifle Can Be Broken in Half And Fits in Ejection Seat Survival Kit. The Aircrew Self Defense Weapons Give Pilots More Firepower in case They Have to Eject over Hostile Territory
The newest GAU-5A is a compact conversion of standard M4 carbines, specially designed to be stowed aboard the U.S. Air Force combat aircraft.
WHAT TO CALL THE WEAPON? GAU-5B/ A?
The US Air Force had officially designated the gun as the GAU-5/A, but the service already applied this designation during the Vietnam War-era to a variant of the original M16 rifle. This gun had a 10-inch barrel, which is shorter than present-day M4 with its 14.5-inch long barrel. There was also a GAU-5A/A with an 11.5-inch barrel. The Air Force primarily issued these guns to security personnel guarding planes and facilities on the ground.
Starting in the 1990s, the Air Force began converting both of these weapons into an evolving configuration that was increasingly similar to the M4, called the GUU-5/P. It is possible that the Air Force has decided to refer to the Aircrew Self Defense Weapon as a subvariant of the GAU-5/A, but then its correct designation would be GAU-5B/A.
FEATURES OF modern GAU-5A automatic rifles
Regardless of the nomenclature, this rebooted GAU-5/A appears to share very little with its predecessors. The biggest change is the addition of a special locking system from a company called Cry Havoc Tactical that holds the barrel assembly onto the rest of the gun.
Cry Havoc Tactical claims that a trained individual can install the front end of a weapon with their system and fire their first round within 60 seconds. The user does not need any special tools to put their gun together, which you can see in the video below.
But otherwise, the Aircrew Self Defense Weapon appears to have same basic dimensions of the M4 in its firing configuration. The gun uses the same “direct impingement” operating mechanism found on other AR-15/M16 type guns, which means that after the shooter fires a round, some gas propelling the bullet gets filtered off to cycle the action to fire again.
The arrangement blows any unburnt gunpowder and other particulate matter straight into the inner workings of the gun, which can build up and cause malfunctions if the user doesn’t clean it regularly. Various elements across the U.S. military, especially the U.S. Marine Corps, have increasingly switched to derivatives of the AR-15/M16 pattern that use the gas to move a physical piston instead.
The gun features folding front and rear “iron sights” rather than an optic of some kind, which is likely a product of the need to fit inside the 16-by-14-by-3.5-inch dimensions of the aircrew survival kit. It is possible that the Air Force could include a small, non-magnifying sighting system of some kind in the future that a pilot could attach after reassembling their gun.
However, it could be difficult to ensure that the detachable sight would remain properly aligned with either the gun or the individual shooter. The weapon does have attachment points for optics and various accessories on top and on all side of the handguard.
The limited sights, along with the ballistic limitations of the 5.56x45mm round when combined with a shorter barrel, could reduce the ability of the gun to accurately hit targets at even moderate ranges or neutralize them if it does. The Air Force would only say the Aircrew Self Defense Weapon is effective against enemies “beyond” 650 feet away, according to Air Force Times.