09 Jun 16. Lockheed Martin’s multi-million pound Bedfordshire UK facility to manufacture turrets for the British Army was officially opened by Philip Dunne MP, Minister of State for Defence Procurement, who cut the ribbon on the £5.5 million facility today at the technology company’s Ampthill site. The building houses a state-of-the-art production line to manufacture high-tech armoured vehicle turrets, from development and fabrication through to integration and testing.
Philip Dunne MP, Minister of State for Defence Procurement said: “This new £5.5 million high tech centre of excellence is the culmination of many years of hard work and is the envy of armed forces across the world. will create 40 jobs here in Bedfordshire and secure many more in the UK, making Ampthill a world class location for high quality, skilled technical engineering. The highly sophisticated turrets made here in Bedfordshire are just another example of home-grown British defence innovation that not only boosts the wider economy, but gives our Armed Forces an operational advantage, ensuring we can keep Britain safe.”
The new facility is expected to create around 40 additional jobs at Lockheed Martin and sustain hundreds more as the company works on major Ministry of Defence contracts for both the British Army’s Warrior and Ajax armoured vehicles.
The minister was given a tour of the new building to inspect the full production line and several of the completed turrets.
Alan Lines, Vice President and Managing Director of Lockheed Martin UK’s Ampthill site, said: “The turrets that will be manufactured have been designed and developed here in Bedfordshire, cementing Lockheed Martin’s reputation for pioneering design. The completion of this facility means we are now able to move into production, with our highly-skilled engineers ready to deliver quality, technically-demanding solutions for our customer. We are developing a Graduate and Apprentice scheme which we hope will entice new staff to work in our new centre of excellence developing systems for the world’s armies and thus increasing UK Defence Exports.”
Over the last ten years, more than £23 million has been invested by Lockheed Martin to develop the Ampthill site and establish a centre of excellence for manufacturing turrets; the new facility cost £5 million to build.
Rick Edwards, Executive Vice President, Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control said, ”When Lockheed Martin purchased the Ampthill facility from INSYS in 2005 it employed 175 people, we now employ over 900 people on a 64 acre site which when I first came here included a mushroom farm and a Bovril factory! What we now have is a state-of-the art engineering facility capable of producing the most advanced turret systems anywhere in the world.”
The main functions of the site in 2005 were Deterrent Technology working on Target and Payload technology for the Trident fleet, now ramped up including work for the Trident Replacement Programme, Vehicle Prototyping and design, shelter design and manufacture and missile work including Hellfire for the UK Apaches, LAW 80, BL755 and JP233 Cluster bombs. That capability has now expanded to include Mission Support and Domain Monitoring systems including the UK LEAPP targeting system, soldier systems, Vehicle Mission Systems and the Ajax and Warrior turrets for customers GDUK and the MoD as well as overseas customers, Lockheed Martin is working with a wide network of suppliers to deliver both the Warrior Capability Sustainment Programme and Ajax turret.
These were the latest trials that Lockheed Martin UK are undertaking as part of the Warrior Capability Sustainment Programme to upgrade the Army’s fleet of 380 Warrior vehicles.
Senior members of the Army and potential international customers were invited to the Ministry of Defence’s ranges in Kirkudbright to see the Warrior in action and get an update on the progression of the programme.
Modified, designed and installed by engineers at Lockheed Martin UK’s Ampthill site in Bedfordshire, the infrastructure of the Warrior vehicle will be significantly improved, including fitting the new turret with the ultra-modern CT40 weapon system, an updated environmental control system to improve crew comfort, better all-round awareness cameras and driver’s night vision, along with a modular protection fitting system to the chassis to enable quick change of armour for specific threats.
Alan Lines, Vice President and Managing Director, Lockheed Martin UK’s Ampthill site said: “These successful trials demonstrate both the accuracy and lethality of the new generation Warrior, which has been designed and manufactured in the UK. This is the latest in a number of trials that have increased confidence in these modifications. We remain on track for critical design review later this year where the maturity of our design and technical effort will take place.”
In September 2015 plans to upgrade the British Army’s Warrior vehicle took another step forward with the completion of a Critical Design Review (CDR).
A team from Lockheed Martin UK’s Ampthill site spent several days analysing and scrutinising the proposed design alongside representatives from the Ministry of Defence. The CDR is the final stage of the design and development phase of the programme, which is enhancing the combat capability of 250 of the Army’s fleet of Warrior vehicles with a new turret, cannon and electronics.
Its completion is a major milestone and demonstrates the maturity of the project. The CDR follows successful live firing trials that took place in Scotland in April with the new turret and cannon.
Vice President and Managing Director of Lockheed Martin UK’s Ampthill site, Alan Lines, said: “Passing through the Critical Design Review is a significant event, not only for the Lockheed Martin UK team but also for our network of suppliers and the Army and MoD. We continue to make excellent progress with this important programme that will be key to the Army’s future armoured fighting vehicle capability.”
The upgraded Warrior will have an improved infrastructure that includes a new turret with an ultra-modern CT40 weapon system and a modular protection fitting system to increase lethality and adaptability. Other features such as an updated environmental control system, better all-round cameras and night vision capabilities have been designed to improve the crew’s comfort and awareness.
Graeme Myers, Director Warrior Programmes, Lockheed Martin Ampthill told the Editor today, ”Following extensive developments on our original Warrior turret design we have achieved a TRL of over 8 and are embarking on a Test Readiness Review (TRR) which will complete tomorrow, June 10th. We are building 12 turrets for installation on Warriors at the Babcock DSG facility in Donnington having passed the Critical Design Review on the 520, 521, 522 and 523 variants. The hulls on the Warriors were completely stripped down at Donnington and brought up to our rigorous standards under the MoD contract. The power train remains the same with an option to upgrade, we have also added new systems and environmental controls to the vehicle to extend a 30 year old vehicle’s life for another 30 years. The vehicles will then undergo extensive Reliability and Growth Trials until 2018 when we expect to progress to full production. We will be producing 6 turrets a month under a contract for 250 turrets.”
The Warrior turret is now fitted with Elibit Instro Thermal Imager Gunner’s Sight and the Thales Catherine BGTI REO/IR system. The turret is also the baseline Export Turret which Lockheed Martin is offering to a number of customers including Qatar on a Patria AMV which is competing for a contract believed to be for as many as 250 vehicles against the KMW NEXTER VBCI with as French CT490 turret. The Qatar turret is also equipped with Javelin missiles mounted on the side of the turret.
Lockheed Martin’s technology leading turret solution will deliver significant improvements in combat capability, survivability and operational effectiveness for the infantry.
SCOUT SV represents the first variant in the future of Armoured Fighting Vehicles for the British Army, providing best-in-class protection and survivability, reliability and mobility and all-weather intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance (ISTAR) capabilities. Its range of six variants will allow the British Army to conduct sustained, expeditionary, full-spectrum and network-enabled operations with a reduced logistics footprint. SCOUT SV can operate in combined-arms and multinational situations across a wide-range of future operating environments.
The new facility opened today has the ability to produce 4 Ajax turrets a month with a total of 245, Ajax has two turret types, the MCO variant for battlefield use with the Thales EO/IR gunners sight and the PCO variant which is for peacetime use which has a Kongsberg Overhead weapon System mounted in place of the Thales 360 degree system. Ajax also has a back up secondary gunners sight which is optimised with the CTA canon and the 7.62 chain gun
The AJAX Scout SV is fitted with primary and secondary sight. Thales UK has been selected by General Dynamics UK to supply the primary and secondary sighting systems for Scout, the reconnaissance variant of SV (specialist vehicle). The primary sight is mainly for the use of the vehicles’ commander. It enables the commander to maintain a 360° view of his surroundings, has a thermal imager to identify targets, and has a wide-area search-and-detect capability that automatically detects and tracks potential targets from their thermal signature, alerting the crew to their presence. The primary sight also includes provision for an optional laser target designator (LTD), and the AJAX Scout SV demonstration phase will mark the first use of a vehicle-mounted, under-armour LTD by the British Army. The secondary sight is for the gunner and gives him the ability to detect and identify targets at extended ranges and accurately engage targets at the full range of the main armament. It also includes a high-definition colour TV camera for daylight use, as well as a long-range day optical channel. A sophisticated, neartly packaged, Electronic Architecture, makes it the first fully digitised land platform that is able to seamlessly integrate both current and future open system ISTAR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance) and communication products. Standard equipment of Scout SV includes also mobile camouflage system, fire detection system, electronic countermeasure system, and NBC protection system.
The turret is expected to be qualified in the first quarter of 2018 at which time it will undergo further extensive trials. The development turrets have been built, T1, 2 & 3. TI and T3 are undergoing trails at Bovington whilst T2 was shown at the factory today. New features on the turret include a laser detection system, a loud hailer, Driver Vison Enhancer (DVE) and an Information Visual System (IVS). There is a growth requirement in the turret to accommodate the new Morpheus communication system which will replace the installed Bowman system.
A number of Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) across the UK who are involved in the supply chain to deliver the turret also benefit from the production contract. Companies involved in the Ajax turret include, Rheinmetall, turret basket; Lockheed Martin UK, software and fire control system; Meggitt ammunition feed; Moog rotary based junction, slip ring; Thales Gunners Sight and EO/IR systems.
CT40 Comes of Age!
The CT40 Case Telescoped Weapon System (CTWS) cannon is designed to fire 40mm telescoped ammunition. This format provides significant ergonomic benefits within vehicles in the space envelope required for the gun and the ammunition storage. However, the selection of the unfielded new design for major programmes has been controversial . The CT40 40mm cannon has been mandated for the UK Ajax (formerly FRES SV) and Warrior Capability Sustainment Programme (WCSP) programmes. It has also been ordered by the French Army. The company has confirmed that the ammunition for the British weapons will be assembled at BAE Systems’ ROF Glascoed facility. BAE is believed to have manufactured over 40,000 rounds.
Seasoned BATTLESPACE readers will know the Editor’s views on the CT40 Case Telescoped canon! BATTLESPACE has covered the development of the system and various concerns including weight, firepower, gas egress and barrel wear, all of which including barrel wear, which was believed to be caused by the driving band, are now fixed and the system is undergoing extensive manned turret firings with qualification of the turret, vehicle and turret and ammunition believed to be finalised in 2018. However I can say today that the majority of BATTLESPACE’s concerns regarding this system have now been put to rest and the system is now set to make its place on the world stage with a number of countries including Qatar on a Patria AMV with the Lockheed Warrior turret and Saudi Arabia, with an Thales anti-UAV canon system shown at Eurosatory in 2014, following the UK and France in selecting CT40. Saudi Arabia is also believed to be looking at an LAV armed with the Orbital ATK Bush 44 40mm canon.
Major-General Robert Talbot-Rice told the Editor that the gun was now showing considerable capabilities in trials and its punch provided by the 40mm projectile can acquire targets at over 2km. In addition, given the increased propellant the HE and Airburst (still to be qualified) rounds give a much increased performance over existing 30mm rounds. He said that once the system is fully developed and seen in service that it will become the system of choice for the world’s armies.
In 2014 the Editor told Trevor Sheehan of BAE Systems that I would eat my hat if CTA came into service, that event will now have to take place and I congratulate the MoD, BAE Systems, CTA and Lockheed Martin for having the faith in the system to bring it to production and eventual service in 2018!
(Sources: Wikipedia, Army Technology)