The Air Force Gunsmith Shop, part of the U.S. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC)’s Armament Directorate, recently completed the delivery of a new GAU-5A rifle for aircrew in most ejection seat aircraft.
Known as the GAU-5A Aircrew Self Defense Weapon (ASDW), which is a 5.56 mm caliber rifle, was designed by the Gunsmith Shop in close coordination with the small arms engineer to provide downed aircrew with additional firepower while they wait for rescue.
The weapon is easily assembled without tools and provides semi-automatic capabilities.
“We were asked to design a stand-off weapon that was capable of hitting a man size target at 200 meters,” said Richard Shelton, Chief of the Gunsmith Shop. “It disconnects at the upper receiver, is located inside the seat kit [of ACES 2 ejection seats], and can be put together within 30 seconds if needed.”
The new rifle is based on the M4 Carbine and weighs under seven pounds. From Feb. 2018 through January 2020, approximately 2,700 rifles were delivered to aircrew members.
According to the Small Arms Program Office the cost to develop and field this new weapons system was $2.6 million dollars. This weapon was developed to meet an urgent operational need to increase downed aircrew survivability. It is stripped of optics and aircrew must utilize the iron sights only.
The GUA-5A is a part of the survival kit that is provided for every aircrew member to be used in the event they must eject into hostile territory. In addition to GUA-5A ASDW, each survival kit is also outfitted with flares, a sidewinder flashlight, medical modules, survival modules and life raft.