SHAH ALAM: It was announced in Parliament on Dec 17 that the Government is buying 10 7.62mm M134D mini-guns or Gatling guns and mounts for the Army Air Corps’ AgustaWestland AW109 fleet. The procurement according to Deputy Defence Minister Datuk Abdul Rahim Bakri was an interim measure while the government mulls over the Army’s request for six attack helicopters in RMK11.
The attack helicopter requirement was re-mooted in response to the security operations in eastern Sabah following the Lahad Datu incursion in early 2013. To me the decision to buy the mini-guns is puzzling although it has been bandied about since the Lahad Datu incident.
Puzzling AFAIK the PUTD’s AW109 fleet was already fitted for but not equipped as light scout attack helicopters when they were delivered between 2005 and 2006. So actually the only things we need to buy were the gun pods – either 50 calibre or 20mm guns and rocket launchers and the mountings – and our AW109s are good to go as light scout attack helicopters.
So instead of using an on-the-shelf solution we actually reinvented the wheel. Perhaps buying 10 mini guns are cheaper than buying gun pods and rocket launchers. As for which one will give more bang for the buck – I believed two launchers of 16 2.75 inch rockets will beat a twin mini-gun mount any day. I concede this is just based on gut feeling rather than hard evidence.
Dillon Aero – the manufacturer of the mini-gun- is also offering a pod version but based on the statement made in Parliament, the ones we are buying are not the pod mounted version.
Another thing we must consider is the the fact that most of the mini-guns being used operationally today are fitted on Blackhawks, UH-1Y Venom and Chinooks. They are used as door guns as shown by the picture above and below.
Dillon Aero – the manufacturer also offered mountings for other helicopters from the Mi-17 to the Fennec. If the mini-guns are fitted on the stub wings of the AW109, it may need a mount as shown below by Dillon Aero. I assumed it could be adapted to the AW109 but that probably mean we have to use a mounting not tested by the air-framer.
A much easier way to use the mini-guns on the AW109 is to use it as a crew served weapon. However, I have yet to find another AW109 user using the mini-guns as a crew served weapon among the 15 countries known to be be operating the helicopter. The other solution I found is a twin GPMG mount similar to the single GPMG mount as fitted to the RMN’s Fennec.
As of now I am fairly convinced that the AW109s may not be the exclusive user of the mini-guns. I do not think it will be the Cougar or Nuri either. I am told something is in the works but until I got a full confirmation I will leave it at that.
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