Monday, July 4, 2011

New developments

While the Soviet PK machine gun and even the Belgian FN Minimi are significant improvements on the concept of a General-Purpose Machine Gun; the Ml34 and M61 look back to the Gatling concept.

M134 minigun
In Vietnam in the 1960s the US Army realized it was essential to arm its helicopters. It was necessary to deliver a heavy weight of fire over a short period of time, so designers at General Electric scaled down the proven M61 gun to enable it to fire 7.62 x 51mm NATO ammunition. The weapon designated the Ml34 Minigun had a phenomenal rate of fire of 4,000 rpm. It was normally mounted in chin turrets or wing pods on AH-1G Cobra attack helicopters. Usually, the AH- 1G Cobra carried one or two miniguns in its chin turret, with 2,000-4,000 rounds of ammunition. The guns were also installed on door, pylon and pod mounts on UH-1 Huey helicopters, and on fixed-wing gunships such as the A/C-47 Dakota, nicknamed "Puff the Magic Dragon" after a children's television show.
The first American female aerial gunner, photographed in 2002, appears in the door of an HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter, equipped with a 7.62 M134 minigun.

PK machine gun
The development of a new 7.62mm General-Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG) for the Soviet Army began around 1953, and the lead was taken by the Nikitin-Sokolov (NS) machine gun. The Kalashnikov design bureau submitted a design in 1958, at the request of the Soviet Ministry of Defence, to provide a competitor for the NS gun. After extensive trials the Kalashnikov design was adopted as a new general-purpose machine gun, replacing the DPM light, RP-46 medium/company and SGM heavy machine guns in service. The PK fires from 100-, 200- or 250-round belts at a cyclic rate of 650 rpm.
PK machine guns captured by US forces in Grenada in 1983. The gun has been exported throughout the world and copied by manufacturers in Europe and China. It is in widespread use in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A tank version that replaced the older SGMT was later developed by Kalashnikov with the designation PKT. Following user reports from the Soviet Army, a modified version of the PKM was adopted in 1969. It had an improved barrel and shorter flash hider, a stamped belt feed and was overall a lighter weapon. The sustained-fire PKMS had a new simple, lighter tripod. The PKM and its variants are still in production in Russia and it is in service in the Russian Army, former Warsaw Pact forces and many other forces worldwide. Copies - both licensed and pirated -have been made in Bulgaria, China, Poland, Romania and the former Yugoslavia.

Kalashnikov later developed a tank version, designated as PKT, which replaced in service older SGMT machine guns. Based on the initial experience, in 1969 the Soviet Army adopted the modified PKM machine gun, which had an updated barrel with shorter flash hider, stamped belt feed and a generally lightened construction. The PKMS (tripod-mounted) version also had a new, lighter tripod of simpler design. The PKM series of machine guns are still manufactured in Russia and are used by the Russian Army and armies of several other ex-USSR republics. In addition, PK/PKM copies are made in Bulgaria, China, Poland, Romania and Yugoslavia.

The FN Minimi
The Minimi light machine gun, designed by the Belgian Fabrique Nationale (FN), can fire, feeding from the left, either belted disintegrating link SS 109 NATO or US Ml93 5.5mm ammunition or it can fire from 30-round box magazines that are compatible with the American M16 and most NATO rifles. A 200-round box of belted ammunition can be clipped directly to the Minimi, making it a formidable close-quarter battle (CQB) weapon. Gas operated, the Minimi is normally fired from its bipod, though a sustained fire tripod is available. The gun has a gas regulator with two settings: normal and adverse. The latter ensures a sufficient flow of gas against the piston to clear a malfunction. The adjustment can be made even with a hot barrel. It does not have the recoil forces of a full-size 7.62mm round and so consequently it can be fired with greater accuracy.

The Minimi has been adopted by the Australians as the F89, the US as the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW), and also by the Belgian, Canadian, Indonesian and Italian Armed forces.
The FN Minimi is a light weapon that is comfortable to fire and has proved popular with soldiers because its belt feed allows it to deliver a high volume of fire.

No comments:

Post a Comment