22 Oct 07. ATK Builds New Market From Old Wares. When it comes to making high-tech weapons for the future, Alliant Techsystems is doing good business — and saving the U.S. military money — by using parts from the past. From rocket motors to artillery shells to missiles that have been outsmarted by defense systems, Alliant, also known as ATK, is searching for market niches by adding new capabilities to old weapons at bargain prices, company chief Daniel
Murphy said. For $3,500, ATK can turn a standard, unguided 155mm artillery shell into a fairly precise munition using a guidance system the company developed.
“We miniaturized the fuse and added a GPS receiver and guidance and control system,” Murphy said during a meeting with Defense News. The new fuse assembly, called a precision guidance kit (PGK), features four spinning fins. The fuse is screwed into the front end of the artillery shell, and when it’s is fired, the fins spin to generate electricity to power the guidance system as it flies. As the shell approaches its target, the spinning fins can be stopped, turning them into air brakes that steer the shell to its target. The shell has an accuracy of 10 meters or less, he said. Increased accuracy means the Army can use far fewer shells, which dramatically reduces the logistics trail needed to support artillery units, Murphy said. ATK is not the only company in the precision artillery business. Rival Raytheon has developed its own GPS-guided artillery shell, but for now Raytheon’s Excalibur shell costs about $100,000 a round. Even when mass produced, it will cost more than $30,000 per round. That’s too expensive for the U.S. Army and way too expensive for most NATO countries, Murphy said. There are hundreds of thousands of 155mm rounds already in the inventories of U.S. and NATO armies. “We really like to reuse the taxpayers’ investment — bring back weapons that have already been bought and improve them at low cost,” Murphy said. (See: BATTLESPACE DSEI SHOW NEWS Vol.7 ISSUE 05, 17 September 2007, ATK SHOWS OFF ARTILLERY AND MISSILE CAPABILITIES, By Julian Nettlefold, Editor, BATTLESPACE)