ADEN cannon

The Royal Small Arms Factory ADEN is a 30 mm revolver cannon used on many military aircraft, particularly those of the British Royal Air Force and Fleet Air Arm. Developed post-WWII 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.

ADEN cannon
Class Vehicle
Type Other
Manufacturer Royal Small Arms Factory
Origin United Kingdom - UK (Great Britain)
Country Name Origin Year
United Kingdom - UK (Great Britain) 1943
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ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
Royal Small Arms Factory 1953 View

The ADEN (named for the Armament Development Establishment, where it was designed, and Enfield, where it was produced) was developed in the late 1940s as a replacement for the older Hispano-Suiza HS.404 20 mm cannon used in British aircraft of World War II. It is based (as are the French DEFA cannon and American M39 cannon) on the mechanism of the German Mauser MG 213C, an experimental revolver cannon designed for the Luftwaffe, but never used in combat. The ADEN entered service on the Hawker Hunter in 1954, and subsequently used on every British gun-armed aircraft until the advent of the Panavia Tornado in the 1980s.

The current version is the ADEN Mk 4. Although its muzzle velocity of 2,592 ft/s (790 m/s) is lower than the Hispano's 2,789 ft/s (850 m/s), the substantially larger and heavier projectile makes the ADEN more lethal, and it has a higher rate of fire of about 1,300 rounds per minute.

An improved version, the ADEN Mk 5, incorporates a multitude of small changes to improve reliability and increase rate of fire slightly 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.

Aircraft using the ADEN 30 as in-built armament have included the A-4S Skyhawk, English Electric Lightning, Folland Gnat (and HAL Ajeet), Hawker Hunter, Gloster Javelin, Saab Lansen, Saab Draken, SEPECAT Jaguar, Supermarine Scimitar, and CAC Sabre. Several podded versions exist, including the installations scabbed below the fuselage of British Hawker Siddeley Harrier (and USMC AV-8A/Cs) and Sea Harriers and the Swedish FFV Aden, which is used (among others) on the BAE Hawk. The FFV Aden contains the weapon and 150 rounds of ammunition, is 151.57 in (3.85 m) long, and weighs 802.5 lb (364 kg) fully loaded.

The ADEN is very similar to the French DEFA cannon, and the two weapons use the same range of 30 mm ammunition.

Type Revolver cannon
Place of origin United Kingdom
Service history
Used by See users
Production history
Designer Armament Development Establishment
Designed 1946
Manufacturer Royal Small Arms Factory
Produced 1953–present
Weight Overall: 87.1 kg (192 lb 0 oz)
Barrel: 12.25 kg (27 lb 0 oz)
Length Overall: 1.64 m (5 ft 5 in)
Barrel length 1.08 m (3 ft 7 in)
Shell 30×113mm
Caliber 30 mm (1.1811 inch) caliber
Barrels Single barrel (progressive RH parabolic twist, 16 grooves)
Action Recoil operation featuring a pneumatic cocking system and a 26 volts DC electrical firing system
Rate of fire 1,200–1,700 rpm
Muzzle velocity 790 m/s (2,600 ft/s)


  • Type: single-barrel automatic cannon
  • Caliber: 30 mm (1.18 in) × 113 mm
  • Operation: revolver chamber
  • Length: 1.64 m (5 ft 5 in)
  • Weight (complete): 87.1 kg (192 lb)
  • Rate of fire: 1,200 - 1,700 rpm
  • Muzzle velocity: 790 m/s (2,592 ft/s)
  • Projectile weight: 220 g (7.76 oz)

End notes