CTA –STRETCHING A POINT
By Julian Nettlefold, Editor, BATTLESPACE
21 Aug 06. The August issue of Preview the DPA’s publication contains a piece entitled ‘PRIVATE VENTURE.’ In this piece it quotes a Ministerial Reply from Armed Forces Minister Adam Ingram which states that ‘The 40mm Cased Telescope Ammunition has been developed using private venture capital by CTA International.’
CTA International a JV Company between BAE Systems and Giat has relied in patronage from Governments to stay in business after its initial purchase of the rights to the system which originated in the USA. The Minister is technically right in stating that the original cased telescoped ammunition was developed using private capital but the company has received substantial funding from the UK MoD and the French DCA to develop new ammunition, fuzes and a turret system for the WLIP requirement.
The piece goes on to say that, “The MoD is conducting a technology demonstrator programme to assess its effectiveness when vehicle mounted. No study has yet been made of the through life costs of the system.”
It is the Through Life Costs issue that has always concerned BATTLESPACE.
We raised these issues in our DSEI issue last year BATTLESPACE UPDATE Vol.7 ISSUE 38, 30th September 2005, U.S. EVALUATION REPORT SUGGESTS CONTINUED RISK IN THE CHOICE OF THE CTA SYSTEM FOR U.K. ARMED FORCES; BATTLESPACE UPDATE Vol.7 ISSUE 41 21st October 2005, CTA – KEEPING THE DREAM ALIVE – THE END OF THE RAINBOW OR FOOLS GOLD?)
In terms of technology development, we believe that the project still has a way to go to prove itself. (See: BATTLESPACE UPDATE Vol.7 ISSUE 38, 30th September 2005, U.S. EVALUATION REPORT SUGGESTS CONTINUED RISK IN THE CHOICE OF THE CTA)
In the US trials CTA ran into problems with performance issues (sealing, barrel wear, safety concerns, etc) that they could not fix. Those issues combined with the expense of starting up a new ammunition production line, attendant qualification of the ammunition, introducing a heavier, larger weapon were just non-starters within the U.S. military and civilian Defense Departments. In addition U.S. safety rules state that a medium calibre turret cannot accommodate a gun with recoil due to space constrictions. The non-link feed system for CTA is also a cumbersome and complicated system to put in a small space.
The Report stated – ‘However, the DoD expenditure of $213 million over 41 years has not resulted in a viable weapon system because several major problems have not been resolved. Despite the ultimate disappointing failure to move the technology to the battlefield, they did not identify any information to suggest that the pursuit of weapon system lethality using cased telescoped ammunition technology was not a worthwhile research and development endeavor for the DoD.
As a result of the DoD investment, the state-of-the-art of cased telescoped ammunition and gun technology has been improved. The initial cased telescoped ammunition concept has been refined and advanced and now has such features as compacted, consolidated propellant; a control tube; a compartmented propellant charge; sequential combustion; and an erosion inhibitor. Research efforts have also partially demonstrated automatic cased telescoped guns and yielded computer simulation programs that allow for the analytical study of the combustion process and interior ballistics of the cased telescoped ammunition.’
Another problem is that as the projectile is encased in the propellant it has to be launched into the rifling. This has caused problems of gas erosion in the barrel and blowbacks. Also the possibility of misfires should not be ruled out if misalignment occurs.
CTA still has to firm up on timelines for completion and type qualification to keep it in contention for MoD selection is the French do not have to make their minds up until 2015.
Finally, and importantly, the question has been posed to BAE as to who would build any