CTA – KEEPING THE DREAM ALIVE – THE END OF THE RAINBOW OR FOOLS GOLD?
18 Oct 05. There have been a number of topics discussed during our time, Bowman, Falcon, JTRS, FCS, and FRES amongst others. Few have created such controversy amongst our readers as the Joint UK/Franco CTA Project.
One reader is quoted as having ‘chocked on his cornflakes when he read our coverage of CTS during DSEI. He was consoled by a journalist who said that, “Don’t worry, Julian doesn’t understand guns.”
How wrong he was, he was fully aware that whilst I was running Sky-Net Public Relations, one of my clients was Astra Holdings and thus BMARC. Thus I have full knowledge of the bidding process and the technology requirements for the medium calibre gun market.
Currently there are two programmes for Warrior being considered by the MoD, the Mid-Life Improvement (WMLI) is one programme, the Lethality Improvement Programme, (WLIP) another, they were always separate programmes. WMLI about FIST and fitting the vehicle systems to support that, whilst WLIP is about the turret and gun. WMLI is scheduled to run alongside FIST in 2008/9, whereas WLIP is in the 2011/2012 timescale.
The DPA is examining whether there is a need for upgunning Warrior and whether 40mm CTA would be the right choice. CTA has received £6m to develop a turret for the gun and to undertake some risk reduction to see whether the system is suitable, a far cry from being the preferred choice for the DPA. The DPA is a long way from issuing a requirement for this stage of the WLIP and is awaiting the UOR document from QinetiQ which has been contracted to undertake a study. Thales has been given some development money for a stabilised sight for Warrior whilst there is also believed to be some P-BISA money flowing into the requirement as WLIP requires a stabilised platform. CTA also has a £2m contract to develop an airburst round, a requirement that other companies such as Rheinmetall, the world leader in such fuzes, are believed to have declined. The problem with the calibre is that they struggle to justify to the scrutineers changing one 30mm cannon for another, but going up from 30 to 40 sounds a lot better. One solution could be to migrate the system to Bushmaster 35mm Supershot.
However after extensive investigations, BATTLESPACE understands that British industry is split down the middle with its views of CTA. Certain factions within BAE are reported to be unhappy wit the amount of R&D money being sucked into CTA whilst Thales in Glasgow is pro-CTA as it allows a growth path for BGTI, whilst Thales in Staines is believed to be looking at its own turret solution for WLIP. In addition it is questionable whether the current BGTI system can make the required ID at the extended range of CTA rather than the current 30mm Rarden.
There are two camps at QinetiQ, one charged with writing the requirement and Fort Halstead who developed the 40mm round for Bushmaster which we would leave a logical growth path for an already proven in-service system with interoperability. BAE has been contacted to state how much money it has invested in the programme and how much write-off will be required if it fails. Perhaps it is cheaper to keep the dream alive rather than kill it and take the write-offs?
At AUSA, we asked a number of companies for their views and they were mostly negative. Esterline was offered the rights to the project during its due diligence on Ford Aerospace in the eighties but turned it down. A high ranking General, now serving in British Industry said that he too was sceptical with regard to CTA as, “If they have spent 12 years on the programme and still need more R&D, there must be a problem.” He also said that this smacked of the smooth bore Vs rifled debate on Challenger 2 in the eighties where the latter was chosen to meet the Army’s requirement for a SABOT round and keep RO’s ammunition business sound.” He thought it unlikely that the Army would go down the same road of