The Suu-23 Gunpod

The RAF bought the SUU-23 gun pod, which was carried on the centreline station. Weighing 1,730 lbs, the pod was fitted with a six-barrelled M61 Gatling gun that carried 1,234 rounds of 20-mm ammunition and could fire at up to 6,000 rounds per minute. Different types of bullets could be loaded, ranging from inert training rounds, known as ball ammunition, through high explosive incendiary rounds (HEI), to armour piercing rounds. HEI was normally loaded on a live air defence mission. Stripped of the front aerodynamic fairing, the barrels extended to almost half of the overall length of the pod. Immediately behind sat a complex linked feed mechanism that moved the rounds from the ammunition can into the firing breech where they were electronically fired. At the rear of the pod another aerodynamic housing covered the electronics package that controlled the firing process.

Although the LCOSS (gunsight) was fed by radar ranging information, the pilot aimed the gun visually using the gunsight reticule. As it was mounted externally and subject to the stresses of normal operations the gun was realigned to the weapons boresight regularly. Armourers adjusted the aim using a static harmonisation board positioned in front of the aircraft.

Picture courtesy Andy Neal

The gun was carried routinely in Germany and the Falkland Islands.