The Air Force recently finished delivering 2,700 new, lightweight rifles designed to be carried in an Airman’s ejection seat.
The Air Force Gunsmith Shop, part of the Armament Center at the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, designed the 7-pound, 5.56 mm rifle, which is based on the M4 carbine.
The new rifle is stripped of its optics gear and built to disconnect at the upper receiver so it can fit inside the ACES 2 ejection seat’s survival kit, according to an AFLCMC release. An aircrew member can put the weapon together in about 30 seconds.
The gun, designated the GAU-5A, was designed and fielded at a cost of about $2.6 million. Deliveries began in February 2019 and were completed in January.
“We were asked to design a standoff weapon that was capable of hitting a man-size target at 200 meters,” Gunsmith Shop boss Richard Shelton said in the release.
Before the Air Force began receiving the GAU-5A, pilots relied on a sidearm in their survival kit for self-defense.
The ACES II seat is used in Air Force aircraft such as A-10s, F-15s, F-16s, F-22s, B-1s, and B-2s.