This video shows you that M230: Could This Gun Be the U.S. Military’s Ultimate Weapon?.
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The M230 is probably one of the definitive weapons of the Global War on Terror. Mounted on the belly of Apache gunship helicopters, the M230 has provided critical fire support to U.S. troops in almost every theatre they’ve engaged in combat in.
But now as the military considers ways to enhance the firepower of ground vehicles, the M230 is attracting attention again as a lightweight solution to add heavy firepower to a ground vehicle. But can it be easily adapted to the ground role? How does it compare to the larger 30mm Bushmaster cannons?
The M230 from its outset was designed for use in an aerial role. For instance, it uses the 30×113 rounds originally designed for DEFA and ADEN cannons for fighter jets. Moreover, it also uses a linkless feed as it’s assumed to be mounted in a way in which this will always be possible (e.g., Upside down on the belly of a helicopter).
Its ammunition is notable as it has a relatively low muzzle velocity compared to other cannons. As it made for air to air combat, velocity was a secondary concern as most planes have light to no armor. The explosive effect of the round was expected to produce the results desired on target.
To compare, the muzzle velocity of the 30x113mm the M230 is around 810 m/s. Comparatively, the 30x173mm cartridge used in the A-10’s GAU-8 rotary cannon and the 30mm Bushmaster II has a muzzle velocity of 1020 m/s (for a High-explosive incendiary cartridge, armor-piercing rounds go even faster).
As such, the M230 is reliant on an high-explosive, dual-purpose (HEDP) round with a small shaped charge in its nose to defeat armor. This potentially lessens the explosive filler of the round, as there must be hollow space for the copper jet to form with the shaped charge.
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