Rifle Designed for Aircrew Ejecting in Hostile Regions Delivered to the Air Force

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February 25, 2020 | Originally published by Date Line: February 25 on

Air Force gunsmiths recently completed delivery of a new M4-style carbine designed to break down small enough to fit under most pilot ejection seats.

The Air Force Gunsmith Shop has completed delivery of the 2,700 GAU-5A Aircrew Self Defense Weapon, a 5.56-mm carbine that can be quickly assembled in emergency situations, according to a recent Air Force news release.

“We were asked to design a stand-off weapon that was capable of hitting a man-size target at 200 meters,” Richard Shelton, chief of the Gunsmith Shop, said in the release. “It disconnects at the upper receiver …… and can be put together within 30 seconds if needed.”

The $2.6 million weapon program was developed to meet an urgent operational need to increase downed aircrew survivability, the release states.

Air Force officials announced the program in June 2018 to give pilots a more capable self-defense weapon if downed in enemy territory. In the past, aviators were armed only with a pistol and maybe a knife for protection.