Crews in the Commando Helicopter Force (CHF) have got their hands on a new and improved door gun ahead of 16 Air Assault Brigade’s deployment to Afghanistan in October.
846 Naval Air Squadron began training aircrew on their new FN Herstal M3M .50-inch-calibre (12.7mm) door-mounted weapon system while supporting 16 Air Assault Brigade during their final training exercise on the Salisbury Plain Training Area in July.
The CHF have been operating their Sea King HC4 helicopters in support of Operation HERRICK since late 2007.
Today, the aircraft can now be armed with either the 7.62mm general purpose machine gun or the M3M, the latter only having recently been fully cleared for operational duties with the CHF.
This now provides the Sea King HC4 with a defensive and offensive capability, helping to increase their operational versatility and allowing the CHF to undertake a wider range of support missions.
Lieutenant Commander Nigel Gates, Aviation Warfare Officer at CHF Command, explained the benefits of the new weapon:
“The M3M is able to put down a higher rate of fire than the general purpose machine gun [GPMG], and, being .50-calibre instead of 7.62 [mm], each round obviously has greater effect.
“The rounds have much greater energy so not only do they travel further but their flight path is affected much less by gravity; this means the gunner can lay down rounds accurately from a safe range or altitude.
“The Sea King is a good stable platform for the weapon and we are confident this will give us significant extra capability in support of ground units.”
The M3M is fitted into the Sea King using a specially adapted base plate which allows the weapon to be stowed and the cabin door to be closed when not in use. A specially mounted canister holding 600 rounds is attached to the side of the cabin just aft of the main door.
The CHF have their own Royal Marine Air Door Gunner Instructors on both the GPMG and M3M.
Aircrew undertake ground instruction followed by day and night shoots to become qualified on both weapon systems. These shoots cover a range of operational profiles depending on the mission. Aircrew learn to operate both the M3M and GPMG using night-vision goggles.
The M3M is in use with a number of other air arms including the Royal Navy Lynx HMA8 and the Army Air Corps AgustaWestland Lynx Mk9A, which have recently been deployed to Afghanistan.
- Sea King Symposium nears in Vancouver early October
- Sea King forms heart of Fleet Air Arm Museum exhibition
- 07-Jul-15 12414 Sikorsky S61 Lawrencetown, Canada
- Carson Helicopters VP sentenced to over 12 years for Iron 44 crash
- VIH Aerospace Delivers Rejuvenated Bell 205 to HeliMax Aviation
- RAF SAR Sea King crews celebrate with mountain-top meal
- Sunset Aviation Service launches new website
- RAF Valley Sea King flies 10,000th mission
- New home at Victoria airport has helicopter unit flying high
- Heli-One MRO services receive Korean approval
- Anger at RAF Sea King event cancellation in Moray
- Tempest Aviation Group plans service expansion with Quantum MRO and Logistics Software
- Culdrose team start the very last Sea King “Zonal Survey”
- Sea King moves from National Maritime Museum Cornwall to Yeovilton
- AAR win 10 year Falkland Islands SAR contract
- Chivenor Sea King switchover delayed until October
- UK – Wattisham issues closure date for Sea King SAR
- 06-Oct-14 Bell CH-124 Eastern Passage, Canada
- 29-Sep-14 074 Sikorsky S61 Meloy, Norway
- 04-Jul-14 Sikorsky S61 Halat, Lebanon