The M134 "Minigun"
What is it?
The M134 is a multi-barreled machine gun used in aircraft for the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy (known as the GAU-17/A), and the U.S. Air Force (GAU-2B/A). It is the 7.62mm successor of the Vulcan M61A1 20mm cannon.
Who makes it?
The original manufacturer of the M134 is General Electric in 1960 for the U.S. Army. to be used in The Vietnam War. Ktinga has written that the UH-1 Huey helicopter is armed with them, but that's just the tip of the iceberg. The ACH-47A "Guns-A-Go-Go," the AH-1G "Cobra," are also some of the helicopters armed with this gun to name a few.
Is it still made/used?
After January 1971, GE made and 10,000 of these miniguns and stopped further production. Therefore, the U.S. Army does not use them nowadays. However, the appropriate people in the government (that is, the military) can still buy a remade (or should I say, reborn) version of the M134 from Dillon Aero, Inc. of Scottsdale, AZ.
The magazine Soldier of Fortune has made a review of this new iteration of the minigun, with Technical Editor Peter G. Kokalis recalling his memories of using the GE model in El Salvador being a shame because of the jamming and what not. The test firings from this new minigun is, of course, better than the original and jamming recovery is quicker.
The United States Army's Special Operations folks have in their arsenal a modified version of the UH-60 Black Hawk. The MH-60K has a load of improvements for long-range deployments as well as support for .50-caliber machine guns or a pair of M134 miniguns. I'm not surprised if the book Black Hawk Down mentioned its reliability and lethality.
What are the statistics?
(This is from the SoF review:)
- Caliber: 7.62x51mm NATO.
- Operation: Electrically operated, locked breech system with six barrels and bolts; rotating-type bolt head with two locking surfaces
- Feed mechanism: Gear-driven feeder/delinker with two-piece hinged hatch for easier access. Standard M13 disintergrating links.
- Cyclic rate: 3,000 rounds per minute.
- Weight, empty: 65 pounds (29.5 kg), including the gun itself with drive motor, feeder/delinker, trigger box, flash hider and side-mount pintle.
- Length, overall: 37 inches (940mm), with the flash hider and spade grips installed.
- Barrels: Four-groove rifling and a right-hand twist of one turn in 10 inches (254mm).
- Barrel length: 22 inches (559mm).
- The ammo box that came with this M134 stores up to 4,000 rounds.
- The M134 runs on a 28-volt power source, be it from a helicopter or stand-alone using the appropriate battery.
Where have I seen one?
Jesse "The Body" Ventura carried it (connected with truck batteries) in Predator. In the movie Terminator 2, the T-800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger) uses the minigun to fire at police cruisers while the Cyberdyne building is in the process of being ransacked of the Terminator parts, then destroyed. If you watched The Matrix, Neo fought Agent Smith with an M134 mounted in a helicopter.
- Kokalis, Peter G. "Fast Guns -- The M134 7.62mm Minigun Reborn." Soldier of Fortune June 2000. pp. 48-53.
- Schneider, Michael L. "M27 Armament Subsystem" U.S. Helicopter Weapons Team Precis, a part of U.S. Army Tank-Automotive and Armaments Command -- Armament and Chemical Acquisition and Logistics Activity ( http://www-acala1.ria.army.mil/LC/CS/Csa/kpm27.htm#M134 )
- Pike, John. GAU-2B/A - Air Force M134 - Army ( http://www.fas.org/man/dod-101/sys/ac/equip/m134.htm )
- And don't forget this: http://www.dillonaero.com