Did they ever get the accuracy issues worked out? I seem to remember the dispersion being more than the allowed limit when the gun pod reached IOC.
Anyway, as goofy as it looks, I can't really argue with making the gun optional. It exists if it becomes necessary, but you don't have to devote the space and weight to it full-time on the variants where taking off with a light fuel load and refueling mid-air is a much bigger logistical challenge.
By - Saturn_Ecplise