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EPISODE 5 - 2000 ROUNDS A MINUTE

 
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BRIEF

2000 Rounds a Minute

This GAU-19/A, 12.7mm is being fired from a United Arab Emirates Army Humvee at the UAE Army's Maqatra live fire range 40 miles outside of Abu Dhabi. At the time of this test fire, March 2001, General Dynamics, the GAU-19s manufacturer, was in discussions with the UAE Army for an unspecified number of these gatling guns.  The 12.7mm (.50 caliber) GAU-19/A Externally Powered Gatling Gun, has variable rates of fire—up to 2000 rounds per minute—and has seen increasingly widespread deployment over the last several years.  Notably, it is now fielded by the MH-series helicopters fielded by the 160th Special Operations Air Regiment, as well as those assigned to the 16 Special Operations Wing of Air Force Special Operations Command. Additionally, budget appropriations for FY 2004 allow for funds to equip the U.S. Army's OH-58 Kiowa Warrior helicopter.  As a general rule in the U.S. military, the GAU-19 has come to replace the M-134 "minigun," a six-barreled gatling-style weapon that fired the much-smaller 7.62mm round.  A FY 2002 budget request for funds to deploy the GAU-19 on special operations helicopters cited the GAU-19's superior range to that of the M-134 as one of the primary reasons for the replacement.  Tests are currently underway to determine the suitability of mounting the GAU-19 on the Marine Corps's V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft, which is currently unarmed. 

As with any weapon system, there are costs and benefits associated with the GAU-19.  It is heavier and more complex than the M2 .50 caliber machine guns and M-19 grenade launchers currently mounted on U.S. HMMWVs, for example, and requires an external power source to fire.  It also consumes ammunition at a tremendous rate, which can be a problem in sustained engagements.  On the other hand, it provides an absolutely devastating amount of firepower, and has a greater effective range than those other weapons.

For the CFR team watching the live fire, it was interesting to see the Humvee—which weighs over 5,000 pounds—rock back with the recoil of the weapon.