Potent Firepower for Weapons Lab
Modern Gatling Guns to Defend
Against Land, Air Terrorist Attack at
Livermore National Laboratory
KEAY DAVIDSON / San Francisco Chronicle 3feb2006
gun and its much larger version — the GAU-8
Avenger — are capable of firing depleted uranium rounds (DU)
More photos below
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory plans to install high-powered machine guns over the next few months capable of hitting land vehicles or aircraft almost a mile away in the event of a terrorist attack.
Known as Gatling guns because they are multi-barreled, like their 19th-century ancestors, they simultaneously fire 7.62mm bullets from six barrels at up to 4,000 rounds per minute, powerful enough to take down an enemy aircraft or helicopter, officials said.
The guns will give the nuclear weapons lab greater ability to guard its huge cache of radioactive plutonium, said Linton Brooks, head of the U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration, a quasi-independent agency that oversees the nation's nuclear weapons complex for the U.S. Department of Energy. The agency ordered the weapons.
"A lot of people are willing to die if they can kill lots of Americans ... You want to make clear that when they come here to die (by attacking the lab), they die for a failure," the blunt-speaking Brooks said at a press conference at Livermore on Thursday, where he unveiled one of the guns.
He said the guns will be operational later this year after the lab's guards are trained and the weapons and related equipment are purchased. Brooks insisted the Gatling gun purchase is unrelated to a recent announcement that the lab might double its supply of plutonium.
Lab officials said several Gatling guns will be deployed at the lab, some mounted on vehicles and others at undisclosed fixed locations, but for security reasons declined to say exactly how many or when.
Manufactured by Dillon Aero of Scottsdale, Ariz., the guns cost between $50,000 and $75,000, depending on accessories, and can unleash their barrage of bullets up to 1,500 meters or nearly a mile away.
Each gun gives Lawrence Livermore firepower equivalent to a dozen guards armed with the high-powered rifles they currently carry, said Robert Claire, the lab's armorer — the man in charge of its anti-terrorist weaponry.
Officials said, however, there are no plans to reduce the lab's security force, employed by Lawrence Livermore and UC, which runs the lab under contract with the Energy Department.
Lab spokesperson David Schwoegler said the plan to equip the lab with the high-tech guns has been "closely coordinated with all local and federal law enforcement agencies." Officials for the city of Livermore could not be reached late Thursday.
But a lab critic called the plan a threat to innocent men, women and children, particularly with the lab being across the street from suburban homes. A better solution would be to investigate ways to remove the plutonium and other weapons-grade nuclear materials from the lab altogether, said Marylia Kelley, head of Tri Valley Cares, a Livermore anti-nuclear group.
"There are residential homes all up and down what is the western perimeter of Livermore lab," Kelley said. "You always see children on their bicycles or skateboards ... people walking their dogs ... You can't just indiscriminately open fire."
Until now, the most lethal weapons known to be used by the lab's notoriously no-nonsense guards are the big, black high-powered rifles they display prominently at its several gates. Schwoegler said the guards, whom he numbered at a couple of hundred, will be thoroughly trained in the use of the new weapons.
The Gatling gun was introduced during the Civil War but saw limited action. It played a more prominent wartime role a few years later, giving U.S. troops enormous advantages in firepower in their fight against western Indians. The hand-cranked weapon, named for its inventor, Richard Jordan Gatling, fired 100 rounds per minute.
Gatling hoped the gun could "enable one man to do as much battle duty as a hundred" and thereby would "supersede the necessity of large armies," according to an online site operated by American Heritage.
Livermore lab is one of the nation's two nuclear weapons design labs, where, among other things, scientists study plutonium, a key ingredient in nuclear weapons. To carry out this task, the lab stores plutonium for research at a site called Building 332.
Conceivably, terrorists might wish to attack the lab either to steal plutonium, which they could then convert into their own bombs, or to blow up the plutonium storage building to spread radioactive material over a densely inhabited area.
Brooks acknowledged that "if somebody wants to drive an aircraft into a building, you can't prevent that." But in the event of a "military-style" terrorist attack either from a ground vehicle or an aircraft, Livermore needs to have this kind of super-armament "to leave no doubt about the outcome," he said.
"You don't want half of (the terrorists) killed and half of your (Livermore) guys killed, then say, 'We won.' "
Rather, he said, lab officials want to ensure that in such a violent encounter, lab security guards can quell the invasion immediately without any Livermore staff losses.
In November, the Energy Department authorized the lab to increase its amount of stored plutonium to an amount exceeding 3,000 pounds — enough for as many as about 300 nuclear bombs.
The authorization came three months after an advisory panel to the department urged the lab to ship almost all of its nuclear bomb materials — estimated to be as much as 1,540 pounds worth — to a remote, safer site because of the growing suburbanization of the Livermore area to prevent a potential terrorist attack.
On Thursday, Brooks said he hadn't decided whether to increase the amount of plutonium stored at the lab. He defended the lab's continuing research on plutonium as essential to ensure that U.S. weapons scientists understand better what he characterized as the "nasty, ugly, complicated stuff with a metallurgy I don't pretend to understand."
Over the years, federal officials have repeatedly worried about security standards at Lawrence Livermore and other labs in the U.S. nuclear weapons complex. In February 2004, an intruder managed to drive a truck inside the Livermore site security perimeter. During the incident guards failed to activate recently installed pop-up barriers, according to a report six months later by the Energy Department's inspector general.
Lawrence Livermore officer Andrew Graycar demonstrates the
M134 Gatling gun while officer Chris McKaskey (right) stands guard.
Photo by Paul Chinn
Lawrence Livermore police officers Brian Weimer (center) and Chris McKaskey stand guard over the facility's new Dillon Aero gatling gun in Livermore on Thursday.
Photo by Paul Chinn
M134 Gatling gun
Length: 31.5 inches
Width: 12 inches
Weight (without ammo): Steel, 29.1 lbs.,
Titanium, 20.8 lbs.
Range: 0.93 mile, (1,500 meters)
Firing rate: Up to 4,000 rounds per minute
7.62 mm x 51 mm "NATO" round
(actual size at right)
Source: Federation of American Scientists
source: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2006/02/03/MNGR9H2AM71.DTL&type=printable 3feb2006
From Federation of American Scientists website:
The M134 7.62mm Minigun is a 6 barrel, air-cooled, link-fed, electrically driven Gatling gun, with a 1,000 meter maximum effective range and a tracer burnout at 900 meters. The weapon has a rate of fire of 2,000 or 4,000 rounds per minute. The ammo can, 2 per aircraft, holds a maximum of 2625 rds of ball, tracer, low light tracer, or Sabot Launched Armor Piercing (SLAP) ammo.
source: http://www.fas.org/irp/agency/dod/socom/sof-ref-2-1/SOFREF_Ch3.htm 3feb2006
From the manufacturer, Dillon Aero in Scottsdale, AZ:
The M134 has many applications. There are Gatling Guns configured for aerial fixed-forward fire and door gunner positions, navalized weapons for use throughout the fleet, and now Land Combat M134s. This list continues to grow.
This is why Dillon developed the M134D Gatling Gun Basic. The Basic consists of all the gun components which are common across all platforms. This is then matched with platform specific components to create a user oriented weapon system.
The M134D Basic includes (see sections below):
Firing Bolt Assemblies (6)
Top Cover/Safing Sector
Flash Suppressor Assembly
|M134D Stats and Operating Information|
|Width||12 in./30.48 cm.|
|Gun,M134 7.62 NATO Steel||29.12 lbs./13.5 kgs.|
|Gun,M134 7.62 NATO Titanium||20.8 lbs./9.3 kgs.|
|Drive, 28vdc, ac,||8 lbs./3.6 kgs. (dc/ac)|
|Feeder/Delinker, Steel||9.2 lbs./4.17kgs.|
|Feeder/Delinker, Titanium||7.1 lbs./3.22 kgs.|
|GCU||3.3 lbs./1.49 kgs.|
|Gun Drive Gear Housing||1.16 lbs./0.52 kgs.|
|Cables||2.5 lbs./1.12 kgs.|
|Flash Suppressor, Steel||3.11 lbs./1.68 kgs.|
|Flash Suppressor, Titanium||2.7 lbs./1.12 kgs.|
|Total System Weight ( less ammunition, battery, and mount)|
|Steel (Fixed Forward Fire)||56.9 lbs./25.9 kgs.|
|Steel (Crew Served)||66.1 lbs./30 kgs|
|Titanium (Fixed Forward Fire)||45.1 lbs./20.5 kgs.|
|Titanium (Crew Served)||53.13 lbs./24.2 kgs|
|Magazine, 1,500 rds:||
Empty 31 lbs./14.06 kgs.
Full 125 lbs./56.82 kgs.
|Magazine, 4,400 rds:||Empty 31 lbs./11.09 kgs.
Full 295 lbs./134 kgs.
|Magazine, 3,000 rds (vehicle):||
Empty 24.4 lbs./12.25 kgs.
Full 204 lbs./ 93 kgs.
|Magazine, 3,000 rds (little bird):||
Empty 27 lbs./ 12.25 kgs.
Full 208 lbs./ 94.5 kgs.
|Feed Chute (7 ft/2.13 meters):||
Linked Ammunition Belt
Fixed 3,000 SPM or 4,000 SPM
Hard Mount, 6.5 Mils, 80% circle
External Power (Electric)
24 - 28 vdc, 58 amps
|Mean Rounds Between Jams||
|Recoil Forces (at 3,000 SPM)|
150 lbs./67.5 kgs.
300 lbs./135 kgs.
Operating Temperature Range:
from -65 F/-53 C to +165 F/+73 C
22 in./55.88 cm.
2.5 lbs./1.12 kgs.
|Rotation of Barrel Cluster||
Counterclockwise from breech end
20 in./50.8 cm.
|One Turn In||
10 in./25.4 cm.
source: http://dillonaero.com/ 3feb2006
At the center of the M134 is the Rotor. When the weapon is triggered the main drive motor turns the drive gear on the front of the rotor. This in turn drives the six gun bolts trough the firing sequence. The bolts follow the cam path around the weapon housing while moving linearly along the rotor bolt track. From chambering and firing, to extraction and ejection each revolution of the rotor results in six rounds being fired.
Dillon Guns Are Good For Life Dillon Aero's new, light weight, long life Titanium Rotors are designed to remain as good as new for years to come. With money to buy new guns hard to come by it is always preferable to keep current weapons running. With this in mind, Dillon's Titanium M134D-T use's the new generation light weight rotor.
The rotor is the gun. That is, it is the part of the weapon that must be approved by congress to be purchased. Therefore, it is the service life of the rotor that determines the total life of the gun. Everything else is just parts.
In addition to greatly reduced weight, this new rotor features replaceable locking lugs.
The locking lug is the main wear item on the rotor and the rotor is what is actually considered the weapon. By making the lugs replaceable, the life of the rotor is extended into the millions of rounds. In essence the weapon never wears out.
Steel: 8.3 lbs
Titanium: 3.7 lbs
source: http://dillonaero.com/rotor.html 3feb2006
The main Gun Housing provides mounting surfaces for the Drive Motor, Safing Top Cover, Feeder/Delinker, and Spade Grips. Additionally, the Gun Housing contains the Rotor and Clutch.
Located on the rear of the Gun Housing are four Spade Grip Mounting lugs. The lugs provide a firm-mounting surface for the Spade Grips. (Show another picture of the grips going on to the housing with little red arrows pointing to the lugs.) This differs from older methods of mounting Spade Grips to the Clutch Housing, which tended to shift as the gunner moved the weapon.
Dillon makes two types of housing. The Standard M134D housing is made from steel. The M134D-T utilizes titanium to reduce weight. Part life for both items is 1 million rounds. After this limit has been reached the housing is considered "serviceable on condition". This simply means that as long as the housing checks within tolerance it may continue service.
Steel: 4.1 lbs
Titanium: 2.1 lbs
source: http://dillonaero.com/housing.html 3feb2006
The Dillon Gun Bolt set is comprised of six Dillon DA1000 Gun Bolts. The M134D will function normally with either the Dillon or GE Bolt sets. However, it may be necessary to replace the General Electric bolts for a couple of reasons. Firing pins found in GE bolts have blunt tips. Blunt tips can puncture the primer of a cartridge during the firing sequence. When this happens a portion of the hot gas is vented passed the firing pin and through the bolt. This has two effects. The first is to cause the firing pin to compress the firing pin spring rearward against the firing pin retention pin. If this happens enough times the firing pin spring will lose temper, which leads to light firing pin strikes on primers. These 'light strikes' may contain insufficient energy to fire the cartridge.
The second effect of gas venting is to 'etch' the tip of the firing pin. The more the firing pin tip is damaged the more likely it is to puncture larger holes in the primer. At a certain point enough gas is vented into the bolt body that the bolt head retention pin may actually be sheared into three pieces, leading to catastrophic bolt failure.
To solve these and other problems, Dillon patented an entirely redesigned gun bolt for use in Dillon M134D. This bolt, the DA1000, is completely compatible with the General Electric GAU-2B/M134.
Dillon Aero's Bolts are amazingly strong and reliable. The firing pin tip is rounded, not blunt, to avoid primer puncture. In firing tests totaling well over one million rounds, Dillon Bolts did not puncture a single primer. Because of this, Dillon springs last fifteen times as long as GE springs.
Other improvements include dual, opposed guidance tangs that drive the bolt head into and out of the locked position. This is compared to the single tang GE bolt head which was susceptible to cracking.
Also, bolt searing is simpler and more reliable. GE bolts have a boss on the rear end of the firing pin that engages a track in the gun rotor. With Dillon Bolts the sear is contained within the Bolt Head and is triggered by Bolt compression. This feature makes rotor design less complex and less expensive.
Bolts are sold as complete units and have no need for individual maintenance beyond normal cleaning and inspection. In fact, a single set of Dillon Bolts has been fired to 375,000 rounds without replacing any parts including springs.
- More than 10,000 units currently in Service with US and foreign military
- Service life of 125,000, on Condition to 200,000 rounds.
- Dillon bolts require no maintenance aside from normal lubrication and inspection.
- Dillon Firing Pins are internally seared so there is no interface between the firing pin and rotor.
- Dillon Bolts are designed to prevent "off-center" firing pin strikes.
- Dillon Firing Pins have sperical ends which eliminate punctured primers.
- Dillon springs are engineered to last beyond 200,000 rounds.
source: http://dillonaero.com/bolts.html 3feb2006
TOP COVER/SAFETY SECTOR
Dillon Aero’s innovations on the M134D Top Cover and Safing Sector greatly increased the gun’s safety of operation. With the old system, it was necessary for the user to remove five parts off the gun in order to ensure that all chambers were clear of ammunition and safe the gun. Not only was this time consuming, but these parts were subject to loss as well. With the Dillon Aero system, the user has only to release two spring loaded latches and pivot the Top Cover/Safing Sector to the safe position. This takes three seconds, produces no loose parts, and no tools are required.
- Currently in service with US and foreign military.
- Dillon designed Top Cover/Safing Sector provides rapid and certain method of safing the gun.
- Dillon designed Pinch Pins and Slide Locks eliminate loose quick release pins.
- Speed and ease of the safing operation encourages the user to return the weapon to a safe condition for reloading or when not in a combat area.
source: http://dillonaero.com/topcover.html 3feb2006
Dillon Aero produces two types of barrels for the M134 family, the Heavy Barrel and the Light Weight Barrel.
In regions where heat build up is most critical the Heavy Barrel has a larger diameter which results in increased barrel thickness. This additional material provides the barrel group with greater thermal limits which allows longer burst durations. Heavy Barrels are typically used on the Standard M134D in non-weight critical applications such as ground vehicles or heavy lift helicopters.
The Standard Barrel is used on the M134D-T and for weight critical applications where every pound counts. The reduction in weight is achieved by gradually tapering the barrel from breech to muzzle. While the Standard Dillon Barrel is lighter in weight then the Dillon Heavy Barrel it is heavier then the General Electric M134 Barrel.
source: http://dillonaero.com/barrels.html 3feb2006
Barrel Clamp/Flash Suppressor
Dillon's Barrel Clamp/Flash Suppressor serves two functions. First, it acts as a clamp, holding the barrel group in alignment. Second, it reduces flash emissions by enabling the mixing of air with unburned powder. Dillon's Flash Suppressor began life as a one-piece version of the two-piece GE Slotted Barrel Clamp Flash suppressor. However, after extensive testing the slots were eliminated in favor of the slotless model. The advantages offered are increased flash suppression and decreased muzzle debris.
Steel: 4.4 lbs
Titanium: 2.1 lbs
- Currently in service with US military.
- Dillon's one-piece design saves weight and reduces cost.
- Available in either stainless steel or titanium.
source: http://dillonaero.com/barrel_clam.html 3feb2006
More photos from manufacturer:
source: http://dillonaero.com/gallery.html 3feb2006
Federation of American Scientists website:
GAU-2B/A - Air Force
GAU-17/A - Navy
M134 - Army
The Air Force GAU-2B/A (Army M134) 7.62mm "minigun" was designed to provide a light weight high rate of fire armament package for use on helicopters and light fixed-wing aircraft. The basic M61 Vulcan has been simplified and redesigned to fire percussion primed 7.62mm ammunition. The basic M134 can be readily modified to fire other smaller caliber ammunition, such as the XM214 5.56mm "mini-minigun".
The GAU-17/A utilized on the UH-1N, H-3, and H-60 aircraft, is a crew served, electrically driven, 6 barreled, rotary action, percussion fired weapon, with a maxi-mum rate of fire of 6000 rounds per minute. In the current crew served application the rate of fire is selectable at either 2000 or 4000 rounds per minute. In the UH-1N DAS configuration the gun can be fixed forward and remotely fired by the pilot. The components that make up the GAU-17/A gun system consist of a gun control assembly with electrical cables, gun drive motor, a MAU-201/A or a MAU-56 delinking feeder, flexible ammunition feed chutes and an ammunition storage system. The ammunition storage system has a capacity of 4000 rounds of linked 7.62mm percussion primed ammunition.
The M134 minigun was used on the M21, M27, XM50, and Emerson MINI-TAT on the UH-1 "Huey", OH-6A Cayuse, and OH-58A Kiowa, XM18E1, M28 series, and XM64 on the AH-1G and MOD AH-1S "Huey" Cobra, XM53 on the AH-56A Cheyenne, and on a wide variety of U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force light fixed-wing aircraft. The M134 is also used on a number U.S. Army special operations aircraft.
Components of the M134 minigun are the rotor assembly, six bolt assemblies, six removable bolt tracks, gun housing assembly, rear gun support, six barrels, barrel clamp assembly, safing sector, housing cover, and two quick-release pins. As the rotor turns within the stationary housing cover, the bolt assembly rollers follow the main cam path of the housing cover, causing the bolt assemblies to move along the accommodating tracks. Each barrel is mounted in the barrel clamp assembly, in a fixed position, in alignment with a bolt assembly.
Note: This website had several photos, but we did not include them as the quality was low.
source: http://www.fas.org/man/dod-101/sys/ac/equip/m134.htm 3feb2006