M230 Chain Gun

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M230 Chain Gun
M230 Chain Gun
M230 Chain Gun
Place of origin United States
Service history
In service 1975–present
Used by United States of America, and other countries
Wars Gulf War-present
Production history
Designed 1975
Produced 1975-present
Weight 55.9 kg (120 lb)
Length 1,638 mm (64.5 in)
Width 254 mm (10.0 in)
Height 292 mm (11.5 in)

Cartridge M788 Target Practice (TP)
M789 High Explosive Dual Purpose (HEDP)
M799 High Explosive Incendiary (HEI)
Caliber 30 x 113 mm
Action Chain gun
Rate of fire 625 rpm
Muzzle velocity 805 m/s (2,641 ft/s)
Effective range 1,500 m (1,640 yd)
Maximum range 4,500 m (4,920 yd)

The Hughes M230 Chain Gun is a 30 mm, single-barrel automatic cannon developed by Hughes and now manufactured by Alliant Techsystems. It is an electrically operated chain gun, a weapon that uses external power instead of recoil to load its rounds.


The Hughes M230 Chain Gun is the Area Weapon System on the AH-64 Apache attack helicopter and also used on the MH-60L Direct Action Penetrator (DAP), the M230 is mounted in the lower section of the chain gun turret. It uses a 2 kW electric motor to load 30 mm linkless ammunition at a rate of 625 ± 25 shots per minute. The gun has a positive cook-off safety (open bolt clearing) and double ram prevention.


File:30 mm.jpg
30 mm rounds being loaded into an AH-64D Apache Longbow

On 20 August 1998, the U.S. Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command Armament and Chemical and Logistics Activity (TACOM-ACALA) and McDonnell Douglas Helicopter Systems (MDHS) signed a first-of-its kind contract for spare parts for the M230 30 mm Gun and Area Weapon System (AWS) for the Apache attack helicopter. The contract allows for parts to be ordered directly from a catalog instead of through the traditional contracting process. The government can also order parts when the Army needs them, instead of buying quantities in advance. In addition, delivery is directly to the troops in the field instead of to the storage depot, where delays are incurred in shipping to the field. This contracting effort decreases administrative and production lead times, reduces ordering time from nine months to less than 3 weeks, reduces administrative costs, and minimizes the strain on manpower resources including those of the Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA), as well as TACOM-ACALA and MDHS, while maintaining reasonable prices for spare parts requirements.



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  • Richardson, Doug and Lindsay Peacock. Combat Aircraft: AH-64 Apache. London: Salamander Books, 1992. ISBN 0-86101-675-0.

External links