Nexter, a company of KNDS, is assisting Airbus Helicopters with the qualification of its 20mm pod on the H225M. Since April 2023, Airbus Helicopters has been carrying out flight qualification firing of the 20mm NC 621 pod on the H225M Caracal helicopter. This joint project follows on from decades of collaboration, with the 30mm turret on the Tiger helicopter, among others. The NC 621 pod incorporates the 20mm 20M621 gun, effective up to 2km. Its low recoil mak it easy to integrate on lightweight platforms. It has been specifically developed to arm all types of light aircraft and helicopters, and requires no major adaptation work.
The M621 has also been certified for use with several types of helicopters and combat aircraft. The types certified include almost all of the French Airbus Helicopters platforms, but also the Sikorsky Black Hawk, Bell JetRanger/Kiowa Warrior or Pilatus PC7/PC9 turboprop fixed-wing platforms. The pod accommodates 180 rounds alongside the gun and can work with a myriad of targeting systems. This sovereign gun is distinguished by its ease of use and maintenance. Its performance in terms of size, accuracy and power make it an excellent alternative to 12.7mm weapons. Several thousand are in service today for air, land and sea applications.
The M621 is a light autocannon and one of the few types of autocannon that is sometimes seen on a pintle mount on vehicles, including small utility vehicles. Many M621 are used on helicopters, where they are mounted in a door mount, a remote operated turret or in a fixed mount. The M621 is a gas operated autocannon. It uses a delayed blowback mechanism. Two locking pieces assure a locked breech until the round has left the barrel. The M621 uses a single belt feed system, which can be set up for right or left hand feed. Most common are high explosive or armor piercing rounds. The M621 can also be fired semi-automatic.
Nexter (formerly known as GIAT Industries) is the leading weapons manufacturer for French air systems, and it has been supplying solutions for combat aircraft and helicopters for decades. The company is a French government-owned weapons manufacturer, based in Roanne, Loire. Nexter continues to produce several former GIAT small arms, cannon, and anti-armour weapons. One such weapon is the Wasp 58, a low cost, one man antiarmour/assault weapon system. In 2015, Nexter and Krauss-Maffei merged under a single structure. The new KMW+Nexter Defense Systems (KNDS) will be the European leader of terrestrial defense with more than 6,000 employees.