the introduction of helicopters to the modern battlefield, the M61
system was redesigned and scaled down for use as a helicopter
weapon system. Designated the M134, this new weapon was similar to
the M61A1 but it fired the much smaller 7.62mm percussion primed
rifle cartridge. Capable of firing hundreds of rounds per minute,
the M134 was used on a number of helicopters, such as the UH-1
Iroquois, OH-6 Cayuse, and AH-1 Cobra, as well as the AC-47
gunship, during the Vietnam War. In these cases the M134 was part
of an armament system and fired by either the pilot or co-pilot.
The M134 also saw service in the Vietnam War as a infantry weapon.
Capable of being carried into combat by hand. Usually assigned as
a 'team' weapon, one infantryman would carry the weapon, the other
the ammunition. When needed the two components could be connected
in seconds. The M134 is equipped with a small internal rechargeable
battery that provides power to the motor and ammunition drive
mechanism. the M134 is a sturdy and reliable weapon, whose only
major drawback is its appetite for ammunition. the weapon is
rarely seen in a situation where easy access to ammunition
supplies is an issue. However when deployed the M134 ensures the
ability to lay down incredible amounts of suppression fire and
protective cover to friendly troops.
The crew served version of the M134 is the GAU-17. Fired from a
pintle mount on the helicopter fuselage, the GAU-17 is very
similar to the M134 except that it is equipped with a
"high" (4,000 rpm) and "low" (2,000 rpm)
selector switch. The GAU-17 is currently in service on the UH-1N,
H-3, and H-60 helicopters, as well as a number of American Special
Operations aircraft and helicopters.