Pave Hawk Packs the Big Gun

Testing of a new .50 caliber gun for the HH-60G Pave Hawk began at Edwards AFB, Calif., last week. The GAU-21 is being considered to replace the helicopter’s current GAU-18 .50 caliber defensive weapon, which suffers from a low rate of fire and short barrel-life, according to a release. The 413th Flight Test Squadron Det. 1 from Nellis AFB, Nev., conducted baseline testing on the legacy weapon last February that will now be compared to the ballistic dispersion of the GAU-21, which began trials at Edwards, Jan. 5. The open-bolt GAU-21 approximately doubles the HH-60’s current rate of fire to roughly 1,100 rounds per minute, while nearly tripling barrel-life to approximately 10,000 rounds. The weapon is a derivative of the FN Herstal M3M currently flown on the Navy’s MH-60 Knighthawk, which is ?also lighter, generates less recoil, and is less prone to ammunition cook-off than Pave Hawk’s current weapon. The trials are part of Air Combat Command’s ongoing effort to upgrade the helicopter’s defensive weapons, according to a release.