Orbital ATK’s 30mm Palletised Weapon System (PaWS) made its Asia-Pacific debut at the Singapore Airshow 2018. The company sees significant potential for the side-mounted gun in various hotspots around the region. The platform is currently the only side-mounted airborne gun available for export by the U.S. government.
“There are threats such as those in north Asia that make it more palatable for Asian countries to defend ground operations with persistent over-watch capability,” said Byron “Chris” Foster, Orbital’s director special projects, special mission aircraft.
“However, we do not have a weapon that can penetrate though a dense jungle canopy and that is a challenge that we are currently working on,” he revealed. This capability would be a major step forward, especially in southeast Asia, where air arms are increasingly carrying out more counter-insurgency and anti-terrorism operations.
The business end of the PaWS features the GAU-23 Bushmaster 30 mm cannon, mounted on 463L cargo pallet, and two ammo boxes feeding 250 rounds each. The full system also includes the Mission System Operator Pallet, scalable between one to three users.
“The 30 mm is more accurate than the 105 mm seen on the AC-130,” Foster said. “And still gives the aircraft significant stand-off range from enemy fire.”
The roll-on/roll-off concept allows the PaWS to be installed within an hour, and it can be carried by any medium- to heavy-lift cargo aircraft, such as the Leonardo C-27J Spartan, Lockheed Martin C-130 Hercules or the Airbus CN235/295.
The Royal Jordanian Air Force uses a similar system on its AC-235 gunship, with the M230F 30 mm cannon, as well as pylons for AGM-114 Hellfire missiles and 70 mm Hydra rockets.
“Aircraft and resources are not in abundance in this region [so the solution is to] take a cargo aircraft and turn it into a kinetic platform, and back. Now you have an economy of force,” Foster concluded.