Ever shot a “Pod?” Well, the “American Rifleman Television” crew had not either until last week at FN Herstal in Belgium, formerly known as Fabrique Nationale Herstal. What might a pod be? It is a complete weapons system mounted, well, in a container or “pod,” underneath either a rotary or fixed wing aircraft. The Systems Department of FN Herstal makes these units for military customers around the world. What's the difference between this pod and others? Inside is a .50 cal. FN M3P machine gun, along with either 250 (FN HMP250—HMP standing for Heavy Machine Gun Pod) or 400 (FN HMP400) rounds of ammunition, depending on the pod. Also in there is a remote firing system and a method to collect either the links or cases or both. The FN M3P is an update of the World War II vintage AN/M2 .50 caliber machine gun. Of course, the original M2, which fires approximately 550 rounds per minute, is a John Moses Browning-based design produced in updated form by FN today. What the Belgian company has done with the .50 cal. FN M3P is to up the rate of fire to around 1,100 rounds per minute, essentially doubling the firepower of the gun. And there is another FN pod, the FN RMP LC (RMP standing for Rocket Machine Gun Pod), that can fire up to three 2.75 inch rockets in addition to 250 rounds with the exclusive FN M3P.
On the range—even while not mounted on a rotary or fixed wing aircraft—the FN pod is extremely impressive, and this is but one part of the FN Systems product line. There are electronics involved in its operation (remember the unit hangs under a helicopter so it's not like the pilot can reach down to cock the thing). It also has sophisticated targeting and fire control systems for inside the cockpit well.
In the video, there are two FN M3Ps firing about 2,200 rounds of .50 cal. tracer ammunition (also made by FN). Look for more on the “FN pod” as well as other FN systems on the next season of “American Rifleman Television.”