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An F-15 S/MTD firing its gun pod.

Machine guns are automatic weapons equipped on military aircraft. They have been used in nearly every kind of aircraft type, from fighter jets to helicopters.

Through modern history, they have been a cornerstone of military aviation and air combat, proving to be as equally important as missiles.


Machine guns are standard weaponry to all fighter aircraft, along with missiles. Commonly, the main purpose of guns is to provide pilots with the ability to attack enemies at distances where missiles would prove useless or ineffective. They have a very high rate of fire, but their effective range is short and their overall firepower is generally weak.

Ammunition counts between games vary: most games provide an unlimited supply of ammo, however playing in difficulties from HARD and above will limit the amount of ammo available, usually to 800 shots. In this regard, Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies stands out for the varying ammo supply between aircraft, starting with the F-4E Phantom II at 600 rounds, and peaking with the X-02 Wyvern at 950. This detail was removed in following games, leaving the default ammunition load at 800. There are two exceptions to this aspect. One exception was in Ace Combat Infinity, in which the amount of ammunition can be increased by simply leveling the aircraft up. The other exception is in Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown, where the amount of gun ammunition generally depends on the specific type of gun used by each aircraft, although some exceptions exist. All American aircraft, Japanese aircraft, the MiG-31B Foxhound, and the MiG-21bis Fishbed receive 2400 rounds. All of the other Russian Aircraft and all European aircraft receive 800 rounds. The two exceptions to this rule are the X-02S Strike Wyvern, which receives 3600 and the A-10C Thunderbolt II, which receives 4800.

Machine guns often work the same in all aircraft, except for those mounted in attackers, due to their tendency to arc down in mid-air. Furthermore, they can often fire non-stop for as long as their ammunition supply allows. Certain games feature further differentiation between machine guns used by different aircraft: most aircraft in both Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War and Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown feature one of two gun types intended to roughly mirror the real-life equivalent used by each aircraft, with one type firing at a faster rate but inflicting lower damage per round, and viceversa for the other type. Ace Combat X: Skies of Deception and its sequel Ace Combat: Joint Assault introduce a twist: thanks to the Tuning mechanic, machine guns can be modified to fit the user's needs. Upgrades include high-speed ammunition, increased firing range or even automatic tracking software.

Ace Combat: Assault Horizon introduces an "overheating" mechanic for all guns, which requires them to cool down after prolonged periods of gunfire. The only exception to this is the Machine Gun Pod (MGP) SP Weapon (available for the MiG-21bis Fishbed and Su-25TM Frogfoot). It adds two additional gun pods onto an aircraft's nearest hardpoints and allows them to be used in combination with the standard gun for a significantly increased hit probability and possible damage per second. MGPs do not overheat, but their ammunition is finite.

List of machine guns

Name Description
Vulcan Traditional M61-type gun.
Heavy Machine Gun Heavy multi-barreled gun with high power.
Cannon Single-barreled weapon with unrivaled firepower.
Pulse Laser Automatic energy weapon used by the ADF-11F Raven and the R-series aircraft. Also available as an optional, wing-mounted special weapon for the F-15C Eagle, MiG-31B Foxhound, and Su-57.
Neutron Beam Special neutron-based weapon designed for spacecraft.
Chaingun Automatic gun mounted on attack helicopters.
M61A1 Vulcan Gatling gun mounted on F-104C Starfighter, F-4E Phantom II, F-14 Tomcat(A, B, D), F-15 Eagle family (C, E, J), F-16 Fighting Falcon(C, F, XL), F-2A, and F/A-18F Super Hornet
M61A2 Vulcan Lightened version of the M61A1 Vulcan mounted on the F-22A Raptor and YF-23 Black Widow II
GAU-12 Equalizer/25mm Heavy gatling gun mounted on the AC-130U Spooky. Also used by AV-8B Harrier II plus.
GAU-22/A Equalizer/25mm Lightened, four-barrel version of the GAU-12. Mounted on the F-15 S/MTD (Assault Horizon and Infinity models), F-35 Lightning II family (A, B, C), and F-4G Phantom II Wild Weasel (Infinity model).
GAU-8/A Avenger/30mm Heavy gatling gun mounted on the A-10 Thunderbolt II(A, C).
Machine Gun Pod Wing-mounted machine gun system. Relies on limited ammo supply.
GiL30mm Belkan-made machine gun. Used by the ADFX-01/02 aircraft.
GSh-23L Only used by the MiG-21bis Fishbed and Mi-24 Hind in Ace Combat.
GSh-6-23 Used by the Su-24 Fencer and MiG-31 Foxhound.
GSh-30-1 Used by MiG-29A Fulcrum and Su-27 Flanker family.
GSh-30-2 Used by Su-25 and Su-25TM.
Mauser BK-27 Used by Typhoon and Tornado family (IDS, F3, GR.4, ECR).