The GAU-4 20mm Vulcan (with two models, designated M61A1 and M61A2) is a hydraulically driven, six-barreled, rotary action, air cooled, electrically fired gatling gun with selectable rates of fire of either 4000 or 6000 rounds per minute.
The gun is mounted on F-104, F-105, later models of the F-106, F-111, F-4, B-58, F-15, F-16, F-22, F-14 and F/A-18 aircraft, and is used for short-range air-to-air combat with secondary usefulness in strafing ground targets. It was developed in 1946 by the United States Army Ordnance Research and Development Service, and manufactured by General Electric.
Each of the gun's six barrels fires only once during each revolution of the barrel cluster; the six rotating barrels contribute to long weapon life by minimizing barrel erosion and heat generation. The gun's rate of fire, essentially 100 rounds per second, gives the pilot a shot density that will enable a "kill" when fired in one-second bursts. The weapon's current contractor is General Dynamics Armament Systems.