While many consider the F-35 to be the eventual replacement for the venerable A-10 Thunderbolt II, the Lightning II will have to work on its marksmanship ability if it wants to truly be a force to be reckoned with.
Since 2018, the issues with the quad-barreled GAU-22/A Equalizer have been many and varied, but one consistent issue remains the same: the tiny F-35 can’t seem to hit the broad side of a barn when the call “Guns, Guns Guns” is made.
The Imperial Stormtrooper-like accuracy problems of the 25mm cannon are just one of many teething issues Lockheed Martin can’t seem to figure out, and yet another combat readiness issue that has plagued the F-35 since it first took flight as a prototype X-35 model almost two decades ago.
Ironically, the gun shares the same caliber as the gun found on the M2 Bradley, another military-industrial boondoggle of sorts that ultimately ended up costing the US $5,664,100,000. However, by the end of the F-35’s service life in 2070, it is expected to cost the American taxpayer $1.5 trillion, or roughly the cost of the Iraq War.
As of 2020, however, Time reports that out-of-spec parts, gun vibrations that crack mounts and other issues have continued to plague the flying money pit, and that the USAF deems the cannon’s accuracy “unacceptable.”
“Unacceptable,” at least in the F-35. In other aircraft, to include the AC-130 gunship, the cannon has been rather successful. In pod form, the gun has been mounted under AV-8B Harrier IIs, the aircraft the Marines are replacing with the F-35.
As the F-35’s saga of disappointment continues, it at least has one thing going for it- the data collection and relay abilities provided by its sensor suite is unmatched, and allows military units to receive real-time information on the battlefield simply by having an F-35 in the airspace.
Wonderful as that is, however, it is still no A-10 when it comes to providing Close Air Support- and the 25mm Equalizer is certainly no 30mm GAU-8 Avenger.
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