CTA – THE SAGA CONTINUES!
By Julian Nettlefold
28 Aug 08. Following on from our piece (See: BATTLESPACE UPDATE Vol.10 ISSUE 32, 14 Aug 2008, More money for CTA?), BATTLESPACE can confirm that more money has been requested to be poured into the bottomless CTA pit! Sources close to BATTLESPACE suggest that some of the money is slated to finish the development of the Air Burst Round, which remains problematic. This follows information received at Eurosatory that BAE had approached arch –rival ATK for use of their fuze used for their Mk44 Bushmaster; the retort was not published by ATK!
Meanwhile ATK continuer to press on with the development of its own solution with the MK44 Air Burst Munition and the Super 40 gun development which ATK now says it has interest from two overseas customers, apart from the UK.
ATK’s air bursting munition system consists of the Mk44 Chain Gun, a gun control unit with an inductive fuze setter; a fire control system and the Air Bursting Munition. Milliseconds before the round is chambered, the sophisticated fuze is programmed to explode at the precise range selected by the gunner— who uses an advanced laser range finder to determine the distance. Once the round exits the gun, the ATK-designed fuze technology computes the projectile’s revolutions to determine the exact moment of detonation.
The first platform scheduled to incorporate ATK’s 30mm air bursting ammunition will be the U.S. Marines Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle, which is equipped with ATK’s Mk44 Gun System. Other Mk44 platforms include the U.S. Navy’s San Antonio Class LPD-17 amphibious ship, numerous NATO armored and ground combat vehicles, and potentially an up-gunned Bradley Fighting Vehicle. The ABM-capable Mk44 has also been selected for two of the Army’s Future Combat System platforms: the Infantry Carrier Vehicle (ICV) and the Reconnaissance and Surveillance Vehicle (RSV).
ATK’s air bursting technology is an affordable, operator-friendly design that can be scaled down and integrated into other medium-caliber gun systems such as the 25mm M242 Chain Gun, or scaled-up for a 40mm weapon.
Selex told BATTLESPACE that it remains firmly in the race to provide a turret and will sign off its PQQ today. Unconfirmed rumours abound that GDUK could become a partner in the offering which would bring valuable BOWMAN experience to the team. GDUK told BATTLESPACE that they will update us when more information becomes available. Lockheed Martin remains in the race using its domain Tracer/FSCS CTA experience.
Meanwhile, back at the MoD, a third PQQ been issued to the usual suspects, Lockheed Martin, BAE and OTO. But, given the request for more money the rumour mill suggest that the MoD may not fund the assessment phase which may favour the BAE MTIP2 turret. However, sources suggest that the system suffered another jam during a recent demonstration and that BAE has not solved the extensive power-hungry requirements of the turret due to the powerful motors required to drive the feed system, the gun and the trunnion as we said. GKN had a similar problem with their Desert Warrior where an APU had to be installed to enable the air conditioning to be sued. Warrior was designed in 1980 (MCV 80) as a Western European vehicle not requiring high power for air conditioning and complex weapons.
The MoD is also believed to have at last admitted that it did not take the extra costs of the new and unique CTA ammunition into account when costing the project. The CTA Production canon has still to be built which means that the neither the ammunition nor the turret can be qualified fully until the production version is tested and cleared.
Some observers see CTA slipping off the radar once all the protagonists have gone to pick up their pension. Perhaps it would have been better to have taken a second opinion on the projections made by BAE and its Consultant at the tie of presentation? The fact that not one weapon has been sold or developed