The Problem Pilots Had

Currently, most pilots carry no weapons beyond a survival knife and occasionally a standard issue sidearm in their kits when flying combat operations.

With US Air Force operations ongoing in multiple theaters around the world, a mishap that results in a crash or an aircraft downed by enemy fire could result in a lone American pilot left with nothing but a fixed-blade knife and their training to stave off combatants ranging from untrained terror cell recruits to well-trained Russian mercenaries until help can arrive.

That possibility was highlighted in February 2018 when a Russian Su-25 Frogfoot was shot down over Syria by rebels.

The account of the pilot’s final moments, which included holding off a rebel advance with his Russian Stechkin automatic pistol before taking his own life with a grenade, is widely believed to have been exaggerated for the sake of national propaganda.

But the reality that pilots may find themselves in dire circumstances remains true nonetheless — and with U.S. pilots operating in similarly contested airspace with many platforms that remain susceptible to shoulder-fired anti-aircraft weapons, it isn’t impossible that a U.S. pilot could find themselves in similarly tragic circumstances.

The Solution

Now, American pilots will have a bit more firepower to make use of if the worst were ever to occur:

The GAU-5A Aircrew Self Defense Weapon (ASDW) is effectively just a modified M4 carbine, with a FAB Defense AGF-43S Folding Pistol Grip and a Cry Havoc Tactical Quick Release Barrel (or QBR) that allows the weapon to be disassembled and carried in a pilot’s compact standard survival kit.

When needed, the Air Force claims the ASDW can be fully assembled without any tools in about a minute and provide accurate fire at targets in excess of 200 meters away.