General Dynamics Wins $88 Million 20mm Vulcan Contract
The Pentagon on Wednesday announced a 10-year contract to General Dynamics-Ordnance & Tactical Systems for new 20mm M61A1 Vulcan guns.
The firm-fixed-price award, for $88,275,000, was granted to Gen Dyn by the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, based at Robins Air Force Base in Georgia. Classified as an indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity requirements contract, it will cover the purchase of new M61A1s in support of the F-16 fighter aircraft. Of this amount, some $7.8 million in funds set aside for Foreign Military Sales were obligated. Notably, 25 overseas allies fly the aircraft.
The multi-barreled M61A1 uses a combination hydraulic, electric, and pneumatic drive system to operate and is described by the manufacturer as "externally powered six-barrel 20mm Gatling gun systems that offer lightweight, highly lethal combat support for a variety of air, land, and sea platforms," providing reliability up to 10 times greater than single-barrel guns.
The 202-pound M61A1 can fire 4,000 to 6,000 shots per minute, generating up to 3,200 pounds of recoil when firing at full speed. Check out our video of a Vulcan in action at Big Sandy in 2018, below:
The work on the new M61A1s is expected to be performed at Gen Dyn's Williston, Vermont, plant and is expected to be completed by Dec. 12, 2031.
Helping to replace the M4/M249?
Of note, Gen Dyn is also a contender for the Army's upcoming Next Generation Squad Weapon program, which is set to replace the service's 5.56 NATO caliber infantry weapons – the M4/M4A1 carbine and the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon – with new platforms using a common 6.8mm cartridge. The company has been collaborating with Maryland-based firearms icon Beretta to produce their RM277 NGSW platform, which uses True Velocity’s 6.8mm composite-cased cartridge. The only bullpup design in the program, it uses 20-round polymer mags.