Rarely Discussed, Here's Why Modern Fighter Jets Carry Very Few Ammo

Rarely Discussed, Here's Why Modern Fighter Jets Carry Very Few Ammo
Here's Why Modern Fighter Jets Carry Very Few Ammo

International Military
- To set the record straight, the ammunition that will be discussed is not a missile but a bullet fired from an automatic cannon. So, why do fighter jets only carry very limited ammunition?

Like the F-35 which only carries 180 rounds of ammunition for its 25 mm cannon. The Eurofighter Typhoon also carries only 150 rounds in its 27 mm cannon, then the Russian Su-30 30 mm automatic cannon which contains only 150 rounds. Sweden's Gripen is actually the least, he only carries 120 rounds for his automatic cannon.

Why modern fighter jets only carry very little ammunition, considering that fighters in World War II usually carried hundreds of rounds of ammunition.

Quoted from Defense View, the following will explain why the ammunition on modern fighter jets is very low and why it is still carried out in terms of more effective missiles.

1. The power of the automatic cannon is very destructive

Modern fighter jets are equipped with automatic cannons, as opposed to machine guns. With automatic cannons, fighter jets can fire bullets faster (automatically), with various types of bullets.

Modern fighter jets can fire explosive bullets or armored piercers with very high rates of fire. Seeing this explanation, modern fighter jets do not need to carry too much ammunition. Because the destructive power of an automatic cannon is greater than that of a smaller machine gun.

Automatic cannons have larger bullets, higher destructive power compared to caliber machine guns. Coupled with a much more modern and accurate fire control and targeting system.

So, in just a few seconds, the fire from the automatic cannon works very effectively to paralyze the enemy. It doesn't take many rounds or the number of rounds fired to destroy a fighter jet or other aerial enemy.

2. The automatic cannon is not the main weapon

The automatic cannon on modern fighter jets is a secondary weapon and is mostly used in Beyond Visual Range (BVR) or long-range combat.

Thus automatic cannons were only used under special conditions, and were not usually considered the pilot's first choice. Modern fighter jet pilots rely more on short or long range missiles in this BVR battle.

Again, modern fighter jets have very sophisticated radars to detect enemies from hundreds of kilometers away. And using a missile instead of an automatic cannon, it's much easier to operate. Therefore, why carry a lot of ammunition, and ultimately increase the load on the aircraft's capacity when not in use.

3. The ability of modern fighter jets to carry out long-range attacks has greatly improved

Cold War-era fighter jets had limited capabilities for long-range attacks. But with the development of far more sophisticated radars, modern fighter jets are capable of destroying targets from very long distances.

The missiles can now strike targets from up to 560 kilometers away. Considering a cannon only as an "additional" weapon, in the World War II era, the machine gun was the primary weapon for aerial combat as well as attacking ground targets.

Above, we discussed why in the modern era, fighter jets carry very little ammunition. Then, now we will discuss why until now, automatic cannon is still used in a fighter jet.

1. Automatic cannons are immune to jamming compared to missiles

One of the drawbacks of sophisticated radar systems is that they are susceptible to jamming, or electromagnetic attack. So that it interferes with the target locking process, and makes the missile glide not in the right direction. But an automatic cannon doesn't rely on radar, it can't be fooled by chaff, flares, or other jamming equipment.

2. Automatic cannons are more effective in short range attacks

All air-to-air missiles have a Minimum Operating Range or Minimum Kill Range, so automatic cannons are very suitable in these conditions. The automatic cannon can assist pilots during short-range air combat, a one-second shot from an F-35 or Su-35 cannon can fire dozens of rounds.

Instead of using missiles that rely on radar capabilities, automatic cannons can destroy aerial targets in seconds.

3. Automatic cannon provides ground attack capability

In complex battlefields, a fighter jet is sometimes required to be able to attack ground targets. With the automatic cannon, pilots can effectively attack enemy armored vehicles or artillery guns.

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