The U.S. Air Force has announced that the first operational F-35A fighter jet successfully tested its 25 mm internal cannon for the first time.
According to the USAF’s report, pilots from the 388th Fighter Wing’s 4th Fighter Squadron were the first operational unit to fire the F-35A’s 25 mm cannon in a strafing run during training.
The two-ship formation fired on two sets of ground targets on the Utah Test and Training range Aug. 13. Loading and firing the cannon was one of the few capabilities Airmen in the 388th and 419th FWs had yet to demonstrate.
The F-35A’s internal cannon allows the aircraft to maintain stealth against air adversaries as well as fire more accurately on ground targets, giving pilots more tactical flexibility.
The internal cannon fires 25-millimeter rounds that can be used to target enemies in both air-to-air and air-to-ground combat.
According to Guns.com, the F-35 cannon can fire 55 rounds per second, but it must fire relatively slowly to conserve ammunition. That conservation is important for the F-35, as the plane can hold only a 220-round magazine. If fired at 55 rounds per second continuously, the F-35 would run out of ammunition within four seconds.
The F-35A conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) variant is designed to operate from conventional runways, and is the only version to carry an internal cannon.
The F-35A will be the most prevalent variant of the F-35. The U.S. Air Force, as well as the majority of U.S. allied air forces and Foreign Military Sales (FMS) nations, will operate the F-35A, replacing their 3rd and 4th generation aircraft.