ADEN Cannon
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ADEN Cannon

ADEN cannon
30mm ADEN Mk 4 cannon-IMG 6280-white (cropped).jpg
30 mm ADEN Mk 4 on display at the Imperial War Museum Duxford
TypeRevolver cannon
Place of originUnited Kingdom
Service history
Used bySee users
Production history
DesignerArmament Development Establishment
ManufacturerRoyal Small Arms Factory
Mass196 kg (432 lb) with 200 rounds
Length1,590-1,639 mm (5 ft 2.6 in-5 ft 4.5 in)[1]
Barrel length1,080 mm (3 ft 7 in)[1]

Shell30×111mm belted[2][3]
Actiongas operated revolver
Rate of fire1,200-1,700 rpm
Muzzle velocity795 m/s (2,610 ft/s)

The Royal Small Arms Factory ADEN cannon, (ADEN being an acronym for "Armament Development, Enfield",[4] is a 30 mm revolver cannon used on many military aircraft, particularly those of the British Royal Air Force and Fleet Air Arm.[5] Developed post-World War II primarily to meet British Air Ministry's requirement for increased lethality in aircraft armament, the cannon was fired electrically and is fully automatic once it is loaded.[6]

Design and development

British testing of German MK 108 (MK 213) 30 mm mine shell on a Bristol Blenheim. Single shot test.

During World War II, the German firm Mauser began development of a radically new 20 mm autocannon using a motorised firing mechanism in order to improve the rate of fire. The weapon got the preliminary designation Mauser MG 213 and by the late-war period the design was beginning to mature. However the presence of large heavy bombers like the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress and Avro Lancaster led to the need of up-arming Luftwaffe fighter aircraft with heavier cannons. Mauser responded to this by adapting the MG 213 to fire the 30 mm rounds from the MK 108 cannon. This variant got the preliminary designation MK 213, as the 30 mm caliber meant that the weapon was classed as a cannon in German nomenclature. The 30 mm rounds on the MK 108 cannon had a fairly short cartridge with limited propellant capacity (30×90mm), and thus had a low muzzle velocity of around 550 m/s (1,800 ft/s). However, as they were adapted with mine shells, which could effectively knock out any aircraft at the time with just a few hits, they did not need high velocity to be effective against non-manoeuvering targets like bombers. Despite frantic efforts, production of the MK 213 never commenced due to development problems such as excessive barrel wear, not to mention the Allied Combined Bomber Offensive campaign against German industry.[7] At the end of the war only 5 prototypes (V1 to V5) of either 20 mm MG 213 or 30 mm MK 213 were finished.[7]

In the post-war era, the MK 213 became well known in armament circles, and a number of companies took up development. This included the Armament Development Establishment in the UK and GIAT in France. A common 30×111mm round[2][3]) was developed that offered a dramatic improvement in muzzle velocity from the MK 108's 540 m/s to the new design's 790 m/s (2,600 ft/s). This was only slightly lower than contemporary 20 mm cannon like the Hispano Mk. V's 840 m/s (2,800 ft/s), making the new round suitable for use during dogfights as well as against larger targets. The mechanism improved the rate of fire from the Mk. V's 750 rpm to 1,300 rpm, a significant improvement.[1] The new weapon was quickly developed and production was set up at the Royal Small Arms Factory in Enfield. The name ADEN was created by combining the two first initials of Armament Development Establishment with the first two letters of Enfield, producing ADEN.[2]

The ADEN cannon entered service on the British Hawker Hunter in 1954, and was subsequently used on every British gun-armed aircraft until the advent of the Panavia Tornado in the 1980s.[5] The last version to see production was the Mk. 4. An improved version, the Mk. 5, incorporates a multitude of small changes to improve reliability and increase rate of fire to 1,500-1,700 rounds per minute. No new Mk 5s were built, but many older weapons were converted, being redesignated "Mk 5 Straden".[1]

GIAT also introduced their version of the design as the DEFA cannon; the two weapons are very similar.[5]


The ADEN Mk 5 became the basis for the planned ADEN 25, which was to be a somewhat larger weapon at 90 in (2.3 m) long and weighing 203 pounds (92.1 kg) firing the new range of 25x137mm NATO STANAG 4173 ammunition (as developed for M242 Bushmaster) at a much higher muzzle velocity of 3,445 feet per second (1,050 m/s). The lighter ammunition was also to produce a higher rate of fire, 1,650 to 1,850 rounds per minute. The ADEN 25 was selected for British Harrier GR.5 aircraft. After initial weight issues and persistent problems integrating the cannon with the pod, and the pod with the Harrier GR.5 aircraft, the MoD considered the cost of fixing the problems excessive.[8] and the project cancelled in 1999. As a result, RAF Harrier GR.7 and GR.9 aircraft did not carry a cannon, no attempt apparently having been made to retrofit the older ADEN 30 mm pods. Fleet Air Arm BAE Sea Harriers retained the 30 mm weapon until their retirement in 2006.

Aircraft use

Built-in armament

A quad 30 mm ADEN cannon pack removed from a Hawker Hunter

As external armament

FFV 30 mm ADEN gun pod fitted to a Saab 105Ö

The ADEN gun has seen use in several gun pods including:


The Aden is belt feed using a disintegrating belt of open type links.

  • Type: Single-barrel aircraft]] autocannon
  • Action: Revolver drum with 5 chambers[10]
  • Operation: Gas operation[1]
  • Cocking-system: Pneumatic[1]
  • Priming: Electronic firing[1]
  • Firing-system: Electrical 26 volts DC
  • Rifling: Progressive RH parabolic twist, 16 grooves[1]
  • Cartridge: 30 × 111 mm[2][3]
  • Calibre: 30 mm (1.18 in)
  • Weight of complete weapon: 87.1 kg (192 lb), 196 kg (432 lb) with 200 rounds[5]
  • Length of complete weapon: 1,590-1,639 mm (5 ft 2.6 in-5 ft 4.5 in)[1][10]
  • Weight of barrel: 12.25 kg (27.0 lb)[1]
  • Length of barrel: 1,080 mm (3 ft 6.5 in)[1]
  • Recoil load: 31.4 kN
  • Rate of fire: 1,200-1,500 rpm (ADEN Mk. 4),[10] 1,500-1,700 rpm (ADEN Mk.5)


Swedish 30 mm High Explosive Mk.3Z[11][3]
30 mm mgr m/55[a]
Swedish 30 mm Practice Mk.2Z[11][3]
30 mm övnprj m/55[b]

Ammunition for the ADEN included.[2][3]

High Explosive (High Explosive Mk.3Z[c] [3])
Armour-piercing (30 mm pprj m/55[e] Sweden[2])
Target practice (Practice Mk.2Z[f], UK )[3]
  • Projectile type: Inert solid metal plug in place of fuze and explosive charge[11]
  • Cartridge weight: 440 g (15.5 oz)[2]
  • Projectile weight: 220 g (7.76 oz)[2]
  • Core weight: 80.5 g (2.84 oz)[11][2]
  • Propellant weight: 46 g (1.62 oz)[2]
  • CU-pressure: 2930 bar[2]
  • Muzzle velocity: 795 m/s (2,610 ft/s)[d][2]



  1. ^ Full designation: 30 mm skarp patron m/55 mingranat m/55. Swedish production is painted yellow and British production is painted buff.[12][7]
  2. ^ Full designation: 30 mm skarp patron m/55 övningsprojektil m/55. Early production is painted black and later production is painted brown.[12][7]
  3. ^ Full designation: "Cartridge, 30mm, Aden gun, High Explosive Mk. 3Z"[3]
  4. ^ a b c at 20 °C (68 °F)
  5. ^ Full designation: 30 mm skarp patron m/55 pansarprojektil m/55[2]
  6. ^ Full designation: "Cartridge, 30mm, Aden gun, Practice Mk. 2Z"[3]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "ADEN 30 mm Cannon MK 4 & 5" (PDF). United Kingdom: AEI Systems Ltd. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 January 2014. Retrieved 2011.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w AMKAT, Ammunitionskatalog, Data och bilder, Flygvapnet. Sweden: Försvarets materielverk, FMV. 1984.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Air Publication, 110L-0201-1, 30mm ammunition and fuzes, (Aden Gun), General and technical information. United Kingdom: Ministry of Defence, Prepared by the Ministry of Technology. 1970.
  4. ^ "ADEN development" (PDF). Flight (28 January 1955): 109. Archived from the original (PDF) on 12 February 2018. Retrieved 2021.
  5. ^ a b c d Lennox, Duncan (2001). "Guns: ADEN 30 mm cannon (United Kingdom)". Jane's air-launched weapons. Jane's Information Group. ISBN 978-0-7106-0866-6. Archived from the original on 26 January 2013.
  6. ^ "Aden 30mm Gun Installation". Hawker Hunter. Archived from the original on 24 April 2017. Retrieved 2011.
  7. ^ a b c d Volume 2, Part 3, Hunter Weapons, The 30mm ADEN Gun, Rocket Projectiles, Air To Air Missiles, Bombs, etc. pp. 2-6.
  8. ^ ADEN Aircraft Cannon, archived from the original on 19 October 2017
  9. ^ "SAAF orders new Aden gun pod". 23 March 2011. Retrieved 2021.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h Saab 105, Flyghistorisk revy. Sweden: Svensk Flyghistorisk Förening. 2013. pp. 80, 81.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g Ammunitionsröjning, FV akanam. Data och bilder, Kursutgåva 1975 (in Swedish). Sweden: Försvarets materielverk, Huvudavdelningen för flygmateriel, Vapenbyrån (published 21 May 1975). 1975. p. 8.
  12. ^ a b Flygvapnets eldvapenammunition. Sweden: Försvarets materielverk, FMV. 1957.

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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