The GECAL 50 was first manufactured by General Electric, then by Lockheed Martin, and now by General Dynamics. Design work began in 1982. Early prototypes had six barrels, but a three-barreled configuration is now standard. The GAU-19/A was originally designed as a larger, more potent version of the M134 Minigun.
Due to the loss of nine helicopters in Grenada GE started building prototypes of the weapon in both a three-barreled and a six-barreled configuration. The six-barreled version was designed to fire 4,000 rpm, and could be adapted to fire up to 8,000 rpm. The GAU-19 takes 0.4 seconds to reach maximum firing rate. Soon it was recommended as a potential armament for the V-22 Osprey. The magazine would be located underneath the cabin floor and could be reloaded in-flight. However, plans to mount the gun were later dropped. In 2005, the GAU-19/A was approved to be mounted on the OH-58D Kiowa helicopter. It also could have been used on the Army’s now cancelled ARH-70. In January 2012, the U.S. Army ordered 24 GAU-19/B versions for use on helicopters. All were delivered by the next month.
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