US military’s fifth-generation stealth F-35 fighter shot itself

WASHINGTON, (BM) – The Drive magazine reveals an incident that occurred on March 12 this year with the fifth-generation F-35 fighter of the US Air Force. During a night training flight at the Yuma Range in Arizona, a 25 mm projectile exploded shortly after leaving the barrel of the GAU-22A cannon. According to Captain Andrew Wood, a spokesman for the Marines, the shell exploded spontaneously.

Wood classifies the incident as a Class A incident. This type of incident is considered the level the most severe. In reality, this type of accident means causing material damage of just over $ 2.5 million or the aircraft’s complete loss.

According to Wood, the incident did not cause any injury to the pilot or other staff. He confirmed to Military.com that the Marines are launching an investigation into the causes of what happened to the F-35 fighter jet.

GAU-22 / A Gatlin

This type of cannon is a 25 mm automatic cannon installed on both the F-35B and the F-35C. For the first time, the United States decided to use this gun in 2016 after tests. What we do know is that from then until today, this tool has received several updates.

US military's fifth-generation F-35 stealth fighter shot itself
Photo credit: GD

For operational use, the cannon is mounted on the Marine F-35B, which played a significant role in the withdrawal of US forces from Somalia last year and early this year.

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Specifically, the projectile above the Yuma Range in Arizona that causes Class A damage to the F-35 is the PGU-32 / B SAPHEI-T. Its operation principle is as follows – when the target is located, a fuse is triggered with a slight delay in the nose of the projectile, which subsequently activates the incendiary and explosive charge inside the main body of the shell. During detonation, zirconium is propagated in small quantities.

However, zirconium has the function of igniting in contact with air and then burns at very high temperatures. This high temperature is causing additional damage to the aircraft.

An investigation is pending

General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems (GD-OTS) are the leading manufacturers of this type of projectile. Apart from them, other American companies are also involved in the production of ammunition.

An investigation is pending, which may focus on a possible fuse failure, despite the projectile’s early explosion. Militari.com says that such an investigation could reveal other faults in entirely different directions.

The situation is complicated because it is not yet clear whether the pilot deliberately fired the shot or whether another type of malfunction in the aircraft’s electronics caused the launch.

History knows several incidents with weapons or cannons of different types of fighters from around the world. The most recent memory is in 2018 when the 20-millimeter cannon M61 Vulcan of the F-16AM automatically fired a series of cartridges, destroying another fighter and wounding two soldiers from the ground crew of the airbase.

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