GAU-15/A .50 Caliber Machine Gun
XM218 .50 Caliber Machine Gun
The GAU-15/A .50 caliber is a crew served, recoil operated, belt fed, air cooled, percussion fired weapon, with a rate of fire of 750 rounds per minute. The gun system consists of the GAU-15/A .50 caliber machine gun, a pintle mount assembly, brass collection bag, and ammunition can bracket assembly. The pintle mount assembly, utilized on the H-46, UH-1N and H-53 series aircraft, is attached at personnel or cargo doors or windows of the aircraft. The ammunition can bracket holds a single 100 round can of linked .50 caliber percussion primed ammunition. Additional cans of ammunition are carried inside the aircraft to allow for rapid reloading.
The weapon was originally developed by the US Army as a lightweight variant of the .50 caliber M2 aircraft gun for use as a flexible weapon on helicopters. The weapon, designated as the XM218, was effectivel a lightweight version of the M213, itself an M2 aircraft gun modified for flexible use. Not standardized by the US Army, the weapon was adopted by the US Air Force, US Navy, and US Marine Corps, being designated in the Aeronautical and Support Equipment Type Designation System as the GAU-15/A.
In 2007, Navy Small Arms program identified a problem with overheating barrels on both the GAU-15/A and GAU-16/A machine guns, owing to their lightweight construction. A need was identified at that time for barrels that could be fired maximizing the number of rounds on target per aircraft pass. This was still listed as an issue in 2010.
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