CTA – ‘INTO THE VALLEY OF DEATH’
By Julian Nettlefold
19 Jun 08. Various members of the British Army’s Cavalry Regiments (no names no ranks!) seem intent on the pursuit of the nirvana solution for all canons – CTA, at any cost. Resembling their illustrious forbears are they charging down a dead end ‘Valley of Death’ to achieve their ends, aided by senior MoD personnel, other Army officers and industry personnel. The desire for CTA is believed to have been driven by the cavalry’s wish to have a first hit on a BMP-3 target, which they believe that only 40mm CTA can achieve. The infantry’s wish to have a fire suppression weapon to protect dismounted troops has been hijacked. Director Infantry has more pressing matters on hand such as manning levels in Afghanistan! Somebody did happen to point out to the cavalry that a recce vehicle’s job is not to engage the enemy but to observe without being seen! They also appear to forget the laws of physics which state that a 40mm projectile is limited by its size and the only way a bigger bang can be achieved is to have more propellant. Result, more barrel wear, which is why CTAI had to reduce their propellant in one round and thus its range!
CTA has become the snobs weapon, the canon of choice, a must have for any chic Army! What happens it these theories are wrong and the purchase of this weapon will put soldiers’ lives at risk? Our readers are very aware of the Editor’s views on CTA extolled in these pages over the years. So, to make sure that we are not misleading our readers to believe that CTA is not the 100% cast iron solution claimed by its manufacturers and the military, we have taken advice from a ballistics expert, whose views will soon become known and relayed to those people concerned with the technology behind this product.
Political Element and ITAR
The CTA gun purchase took on a political element during the Brown-Sarkosy summit in May when the crazy decision to sole-source the immature CTA 40mm canon for WFLIP and FRES. This was announced in a bizarre fashion by a letter from Maj. Gen. Alan Macklin, believed to have come from Maj. Gen. Dick Applegate, on the Thursday night before Easter. In the event it was not announced and NEXTER was not informed! But the political card had been used to ensure that CTA was sole-sourced against its Bushmaster Mk44 40mm rival which its manufacturers ATK and turret maker Selex had stated the week before that they would start trials of the new round in June. However we now understand that the cost of the ammunition had not been taken into account as part of this announcement.
During Eurosatory the CTA story took on new twist when sources suggested that the ITT issued for CTA had a clause in it which prevented the CTA datapack from going overseas. Lockheed Martin, one of the competitors, had access to the datapack during the TRACER/FSCS period and also possesses a gun for development. OTO Melara on the other hand is based in Italy may have more difficulty sourcing the datapack to bid the CTA turret installation through UK company Selex.
There was a report of a high level heated discussion during the show between Alliant Techsystems (ATK) and the MoD who believed that they have been deliberately shut out of the competition against IAB rules. We also understand that CTAI approached ATK to buy their Mk44 fuze as the fuze made in conjunction with Junghans, part of Diehl, was either too expensive or did not work properly, even after a contract of £15m! The appropriation of the huge injection of funds into CTAI, reputed to be some £50m from the MoD’s Future Business Group, BAE Systems and NEXTER and its effectiveness, have still to be judged.
However Lockheed Martin told BATTLESPACE that they would bid the CTA turret and Defense News reported that GD and Selex may combine to bid. However both are believed to have said that they would only bid with MoD funding as they have already spent millions on the project. Without funding and