Worthwhile discussion btw..
Long post, but please read...
So…here are my questions:
1. Would it be possible to use one of these as a gun in real combat environment and if so how?
2. What changes could be made to the gun to make it a lower weight, remove the recoil and compensate for power distribution?
3. Would this be an effective weapon in combat? What would be the good and bad points of it?
4. What similar guns to this are already in service? If any.
With the advancements of power, combat suits, exoskeletons, etc - could this compensate for the problems that the minigun causes?
OK to answer you questions... Considering that if handheld Miniguns ever make it on to the battlefield, this weapon would most likely be used for
Spport or as a Squad Heavy SAW.
First off, assuming you actually manage somehow to make an efficient hand-held minigun that can be used on the battlefield, this weapon would be very
difficult to employ. A man carrying such a weapon would be an obvious target, and the gun and all necessary gear would be very cumbersome, and
therefore a Minigun team would have to be effectively used only in CQB with plenty of support and cover, and would have to have ample protection on
it's flanks, as any man carrying it would be easy to outflank and ambush. Considering the recoil, range, and overall technical difficulties
associated with the weapon, the only use such a team would have is CQB. It would handy for clearing rooms, buildings, M.O.U.T (military operations in
urban terrain), defending positions and such. In the open, across long distances, or any combat situation were it's likely to turn into an assault
operation would not be ideal for such a weapon simply because its so vunerable, and would easily be noticed and targeted by OPFOR (opposing forces),
and extremely heavy and cumbersome to displace and set up all over the place. Also, operations at night-time wouldn't be a good idea, because the
team would now be even more vunerable and aiming and hitting targets would become harder, and the team would have to have excellent communication with
the squad to ensure aquadete support and cover. I see this weapon being effective however, in defense scenarios, where possibly strategic postions are
being overrun, or CQB, especially in building, rooms, etc. Anything to do with CQB, Urban Combat would be an ideal area to use this weapon, but it can
only be effective if well-supported, covered, protected, and has aquadete supplies on-hand to maintain such a weapon in the field. Also, it would be
designed to be a quick-use weapon, (get in, take your shot , get out), as sustained attacks and prolonged battle probably wouldn't be possible due to
ammo and power requirements, so it would have to be a short-use weapon. It's high rate of fire and immobility also make it ideal to be placed in a
defensive turret or bunker or a protected, fixed position, as this could make maintaining the weapon alot easier and it wouldn't have to be dragged
around everywhere, and it could reduce recoil and could be used to defend strategic points, AA Defense, etc. (You don't expect this weapon to be used
in a Predator situation where one guy runs around with a Minigun tearing down everything! :lol
It would be very hard to be able to refine and atler such a weapon to be effectively used, hand-held on a battlefield. This weapon was originally
designed for helicopters (later on vehicles), where it's fired from a fixed postion, has plenty of cover and support, easy to arm and maintain and
very mobile. The main problem with the Minigun is ammunition and power supplies. Keep in mind this thing eats lead at an insane rate, 166 bullets a
second=approx. 9960 bullets a minute
! Even if a soldier could carry 2000 rounds around with him, this would last for about 10 seconds of fire. The
tremendous amount of ammo required means the ammunition has to be scaled down. 5.56mm is preferable and common, but still even this would be very
heavy to lug around 2000 bullets. Perhaps making some sort of lightweight ammunition specially designed for such a role could be helpful or perhaps
scaling it down ever further, although reducing firepower (even 9960, 9mm rounds per minute at that velocity would do a heck of a lot of damage to
anything), would be the ideal way to go. I've heard of an Ultra-Lightweight ammunition concept to make 4.44mm ammunition that made entirely out of
magnesium, titantium, and a graphite alloy, designed for extremely mobile troop divisions. The ammunition would need to also be stored conveniently
somehow, a backpack would not be very smart, and would put alot of weight and strain on the user, and one man couldn't carry all the ammunition. I
like the idea of having a two man team with someone being the reloader/spotter who carries the ammunition is very suitable, and this would be much
more effective than the "one-man army" idea. Perhaps even having the firer carry some ammunition while the reload/spotter carries the rest would be
Also, the gun's design would also need to be reviewed. Mainly, the Minigun itself could be made much more compact and lightweight by shortening the
barrels, replacing most of metal parts of the gun with lightweight alloys or other metals, and maybe reducing the number of barrels and the type of
motor. The gun itself is very heavy, and by reducing the barrel you could significantly reduce weight, as alot of steel and special hardened metal is
placed inside the barrel to stop the lining from wearing out and so the gun doesn't need to be rebored as much. Although it might reduce accuaracy,
and make overheating a problem, reducing the barrels is the first step in reducing weight. Secondly the gun itself is made mostly of tensile steel,
rust-proof alloys inside the firing chamber, hardened steel for the barrels and mostly galvanised alluminium and such for the motor components and
gears and so on. All of these parts could be replaced with much lighter metals, titanium, magnesium, graphite alloys, and other lightweight metals.
Also the motor itself, since it is being used on the field could be scaled down to produce less energy to fire at a lower RPM, or even be carried by
the user on their back, to make the gun a bit more mobile. The only problem now is power supply, normally Miniguns mounted on vehicles and helicopters
draw power from the vehicles main engines to power a turbine or generator or something like that for the Minigun itself. Otherwise they have large
battery-packs and so on. In the field the only possible solution (unless you want to drag around a generator along the with the gun
) is to use some
sort of high-power battery pack designed to be used in high-drain devices. A real drawback to the higher rates of fire is of course the huge
ammunition usage (166 rounds per second) , and the power requirements, because firing it at full power it requires some 3.2 hp to drive the barrel
assembly and consumes alot of power with each minute. Lithium-Ion battery packs would have to be pretty large to provide enough power to the motor,
but could mounted on the user's waist in the form of a belt battery pack, or on their back. This would still be very heavy and wouldn't provide
enough energy to last in sustained attacks. Perhaps, in the two-man team idea, the second man could carry another batterypack connected to the Minigun
as well as to provide a small amount of extra power. I don't see small generators or anything like that being sensible or feasible in the field.
As for recoil, a gun like this, as mentioned before produces 11kg of recoil every second, and and this amount of force increases geometrically in
proportion to the rate of fire, so firing at large bursts, standing still would result in the gunner being spun around by his own weapon or being
knocked right off his feet, and in either case firing randomly everywhere. To counter the recoil by weight, the counter-shot would need to be the
ammunition or the weight of the weapon itself, and since this would increase the overall weight drastically and is plain stupid, a recoil-absorption
device is probably the way to go. They have such devices for shotguns and machineguns, its simply a shock-absorbing coil and a bunch of other
counter-recoil devices, hammers, fire-chamber stabilisers, etc. The whole contraption is inside a case which is mounted directly on the gun and
connected to the firing chamber and barrel. Every time the gun fires, some of the shock and recoil is absorbed by the device, although, depending on
the type of weapon, as much 90% of recoil can be absorbed or as little as 5%. It would be hard to design such a device for a Minigun since it has
multiple barrels, and a complex firing chamber, and would only add to the overall weight, so the recoil issue is a tough one to solve. However the
extra weight could be compensated by less recoil, if you can manage to mount such a system onto a Minigun.
Finally, no other original weapon like the US Minigun exists, although alot of rip-offs do
, and many simply have barely any difference. There are
plenty of High-RPM assault rifles though, and many are useful, and more practical, in situations where a Minigun is required (just go to WorldGuns.ru,
have a look at the assault rifles and check out some of the Austrian/German ones). Exoskeletons and Combat Suits are out of the question, the US Army
has little interest in such devices for soldiers, and I believe a program was started a while back to look into the feasability of making
"Man-Operated Robotic Combat Machines" but was cancelled. This is isn't Mechwarrior, and the point of such a machine is really needless considering
armour and vehicles fill the job of heavy support well.
Lastly, hand-held Miniguns are just a dream in my opinion, no real need for them now (except for the fact they look cool
), and besides, vehicle and
air mounted Miniguns perform their jobs exceptionally and don't encounter many of the problems associated with making a suitable hand-held Minigun
for battlefield use. These weapons, from my knowledge, although powerful and deadly, are very limited (from a US Army point of view) in the fact that
they can only be deployed by certain divisions, and lack the range and tactical superiority to be used against long-distance or heavily armoured
targets. Miniguns are used mostly for overwhelming suppressive fire, to pin down OPFOR and to provide cover for friendlies. Even in the current Iraq
War, Miniguns are seeing limited action in most of the CQB Urban Terrain because they're mainly mounted onto helicopters, and manuverability is
difficult in Urban Terrain by air, and since most the Iraq War is pretty much M.O.U.T. Miniguns waste money and resources, and time being deployed and
used in their roles, when things like SAW's, Vehicles, Explosives, Missiles and Bombs are far more effective. Minigun's do however, have better uses
for Aircraft, Gunships, and Defensive Uses.
I just don't see the practicality, feasibility, and sense in adopting Miniguns for hand-held use, it's costly, cumbersome, vunerable and has limited
use in the field, and the idea was started by a fictional movie
! If you see how hand-held Miniguns can greatly benefit the Army please tell