BUSHMASTER ESTABLISHING ITSELF AS WEAPON OF CHOICE IN EUROPE AND USA
15 Sep 05. The announcement by MSI Systems of Norwich that the company had been chosen by the Royal Navy to provide its DS30M Mk2 Naval Mounting with the Alliant Techsystems proven 30/40mm Mk44 Bushmaster Cannon is a clear signal that the Bushmaster is establishing itself as the Medium Calibre weapon of choice for Europe’s and the USA’s Armed Forces. As little as ten years ago, Oerlikon and its UK subsidiary Astra BMARC together with Mauser were dominant in Europe, MSI, a long term user of Oerlikon products, choice of the Bushmaster is a clear sign of change. The UK Royal Navy (RN) has ordered a total of 26 systems for the new Type 23 Frigate, with deliveries scheduled to begin in late 2006. The Royal Navy is believed to have a total of seventy plus medium calibre systems in service.
This is the first time ATK will provide the Bushmaster for use on a RN vessel and it extends the Bushmaster’s reach beyond armored vehicle applications to shipboard use. The gun systems will be used to enhance the Royal Navy’s ability to counter fast attack craft (FAC) and fast inshore attack craft (FIAC). ATK’s Bushmaster series is already the gun system of choice for numerous North American, including the weapon of choice for FCS Infantry Carrier Vehicle (ICV), Armed Robotic Vehicle (ARV) and Reconnaissance & Scout Surveillance Vehicle (RSV), U.S. Navy, U.S.A.F. C-130 Gunship, U.S.M.C. Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (EFV) and European armored vehicles including those of the Norwegian, Swiss, Polish and Finnish armies.
The RN and MSI selected ATK’s Mk44 Bushmaster because of its significantly reduced dispersion rate and low ownership costs. In addition, the unique dual feed system of the Bushmaster series allows the operator to select different types of ammunition for use against a variety of targets. The safety, reliability and low life-cycle costs of the Bushmaster system add to its overall value. As a leader in the production of precision gun systems, ATK has equipped the U.S. military and 20 allies with more than 15,000 25mm, 30mm and 35mm chain gains.
The choice of Bushmaster will also be a pointer that the weapon is being standardized in Europe with Denmark expected to follow suit. This will impinge on the efforts by CTA to establish itself as the weapon of choice for the Warrior WILP Programme and FRES; so far there is little note of interest from the French shareholder.(See: BATTLESPACE DSEI SHOW NEWS Vol.7 ISSUE 3, 14th September 2005, WARRIOR IMPROVEMENT PROGRAMMES – WHERETO FRES?)
The CTA solution for WILP is for the CTA 40mm caseless gun system with autoload to be mounted in a new aluminum/titanium honeycomb armour turret with improved electronic turret drive from Moog and improved BGTI systems and a Bowman fit.
However, BGTI will require an upgrade to allow its use for the new requirements for Warrior, particularly if a 40mm is chosen. Several disadvantages are foreseen for CTA, one major one being that the chamber in the gun still suffers from sealing problems and also misfires prove a problem. In terms of price and weight, the CTA round is believed to costs some £75 per shell in some configurations, whilst the turret can carry some 45-50 CTA rounds for the required mission compared to 200-250 for Bushmaster. CTA was developed in the US in 1951 and some $600m spent to make it a feasible system before transfer to CTA. The DLO is believed to be concerned that the British Army is going down a road to acquire a single source system that is not chosen by any of its allies thus posing interoperability and support problems. The DLO is thought to be putting pressure on the Army to think again.