Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The 40 mm CTA gun becomes an AA piece

Thales is showcasing its RAPIDFire unmanned gun turret at Eurosatory 2012: this vehicle-mounted system is an air defence application of the gun and ammunition system used by the Warrior upgrade, by the FRES SV and by, almost certainly, the EBCR reconnaissance armored vehicle to be ordered by the French army in the next future.

The new system is meant to counter jet fighters, helicopters, drones, cruise missiles and aerial guided ammunition. Further development into a C-RAM weapon is a target as well.
Key of the system's effectiveness is a new munition being developed by Nexter, which will be readily useable by the CTA guns on FRES and Warrior as well. The new round is the Anti-Aerial Air Burst ammunition, which works on the same principle of the German AHEAD projectile (which is also available for firing from the gun fitted on the Puma IFV), by carrying a load of tungsten pellets which are fired in a cloud on the path of the incoming threat.

The turret is unmanned, and mounts the gun and associated ammunition feed, together with an electro-optical detecting and targeting system, which can spot an airplane out to about 30 kilometers and an helicopter typically at around 15.
The RAPIDFire is shown as part of a system, receiving radar cueing from an external source, namely a CONTROL Master 60 surveillance radar, under the lead of a CONTROL C2 module, also from Thales, which can command up to 6 dispersed RAPIDFire modules and radar.
The RAPIDFire vehicle takes about one minute to stop if it is moving and go into battery, linking up to the CONTROL network. Once it is set, it has a reaction time as low as 4.5 seconds.

The gun has not been modified: it still only fires a maximum of 200 rounds for minute. This is not a problem, since lethality is such that a target will be downed with as few as one shot, or with a burst of 10 rounds at most.
The turret can be also enhanced by fitting Starstreak and/or LMM missiles in a six-pack. The Starstreak II is effective out to around 7 kilometers, even against UAVs with just 2 meters of wingspan, and the gun will be effective out to 4000 meters for air targets and 2500 for ground targets.

Wouldn't it be a perfect solution for replacing the Stormer HVM, once mounted on a FRES SV Common Base Platform...? If only there was money, of course. 

As to FRES SV, General Dynamics UK is sticking to the development and trials schedule, even though it appears by now certain that production orders won't come in 2015, but probably not before 2017, with entry in service slipping to 2020.
They are going on full-speed with trials and development, and indeed they have announced that some preliminary activity is already going into determining the design solutions for the Recce Block 2 family of vehicles [the FRES SV is currently in the Recce Block 1 phase, which includes Scout vehicle, Protected Mobility vehicle, Recovery, and Repair vehicles. Recce Block 2 will follow with Ambulance, Command Post, Joint Fires Direction vehicle for the mobility of Fire Support Teams of the Royal Artillery and Engineer Recce vehicles].
Trials at Millbrok have informed some improvements to the Protected Mobility vehicle and are determining if the ambulance should be low or tall sided. The global trend is in having them tall sided, to have more space inside.

GDUK says that a production standard APC variant will be ready in mid-2013, and by September 2013 they also hope to have a production-representative FRES Scout. 

The FRES SV Protected Mobility on trials, showing the modular armor packs mounted on the sides. It is expected that the FRES SV will weight 27 tons for air transport, and 34 tons ready for battle, with a margin for growth to 42 or even 45 tons during its long service life. - DefenseNews

The Protected Mobility vehicle shown in a Theatre-Entry Standard configuration with RPG cage and with modular add-on armor

FRES Scout TES, with IED-jamming equipment installed.

Work is under way to de-risk and develop training and simulation solutions that will be used by the Army when the FRES SV and Warrior CSP finally make it into service.

The french wheeled brigades are going to renew their own recce component with the Engin Blindé de Reconnaissance et Combat (EBRC) light tank: two solutions are competing, the new CRAB from Panhard (up to 3 can fit into an A400 cargo aircraft) and the more mature Sphinx, also from Panhard.

Panhard CRAB - DefenseUpdate.com
Missiles on the sides of the turret, on the Sphinx. Will the british army ever resolve to doing the same...? - ArmyRecognition

Nexter and Panhard have developed a new two-man turret for the 40 mm CTA gun that they hope to sell to the french army and to export customers, but they are at the same time showcasing the Sphinx fitted with a Lochkeed Martin turret, a slightly modified variant of the one LM is developing for the Warrior upgrade, with up to 80% commonality with the one mounted on the FRES Scout.
Going with the LM solution is likely to offer significant savings (industry sources say that up to 250 million euro in development would be saved, not to count the future savings on joint maintenance and support), hopefully with a good return for the UK side of the deal, too.

These small, tough vehicles would sure be interesting to have in Brigade Recce Forces in the 7 just announced Infantry brigades that the British Army will have in the future. A squadron of EBCR, supplemented by Jackals, some of which in ISTAR configuration, would give a lot of easily-deployable firepower on relatively light, air portable platforms.
Again, lack of money means that this is only a nice dream, i fear.
I have hopes on the Jackal ISTAR, though: i expect the Jackal to be retained, and the Army has already in service the Protector RWS and the ROTAS mast mounted sensor, both used on the Mastiff Protected Eyes within Talisman system. Perhaps the Army will be able to field Jackal recce squadrons, including some in ISTAR configuration, in the new infantry brigades.

The Jackal ISTAR is a very interesting vehicle. Ever since 2009, the British Army showed interest in it, and when the news came out that the Recce Regiments would be reorganized to include 2 FRES Scout sqns and a squdron on "a UOR-to-core" 4x4 vehicle, i could not help but assume that Jackal was the answer. Now, everything seems to have changed, but there's plenty of roles that the Jackal could still fullfil. The Protector RWS on top allows the gunner to sit down low and safe into the mine-proof safety cell, and also allows accurate firing on the move: a major improvement.

I hope so, at least. The usefulness of the Brigade Recce Force concept has been proved again and again and again in these years: one can only hope that Reserve and Regular RAC regiments that remain out of the 3 Armoured Brigades are re-roled as BRFs in the infantry brigades.
To give them a little bit of teeth and sense. 


  1. Eurosatory has a distinct "downturn" feel to it this year, lots of private venture stuff that is not very imaginative and relies on a lot of rebadging, the Thales AD system being the best example.

    The FRES-SV news is depressing, they finally scoped a vehicle programme that was running to schedule and budget and now it is being pushed back. The sad thing is that by 2017 the entire project staff will have rolled over and some new bunch of idiots will arrive who will probably cancel the programme and replace it with some new wonder hybrid powered plastic tank thus starting the cycle of life again.

  2. That Thales RAPIDFire has the capability to replace Phalanx as a CIWS for RN - giving a single gun and ammo commonality.

    Jackal sucks - in the day of IED and asymmetric mine threats you can't have a vehicle which sits the crew over the axle !

    It should be replaced by Ocelot WMIK - but as per usual, I doubt we would have the cash :-(

    1. Navalization of the 40mm CTA has been on the cards at the MOD research branch at least since 2010, but probably as a future replacement for the MK44 30 mm gun on the remote mounts.
      I guess a Phalanx replacement is technically feasible, but will undoubtely be expensive and, as you probably know, Phalanx is non deck-penetrating. Can the RAPIDFire be given some kind of non-penetrating mount? And with which funds?
      I wouldn't hold my breath!

      Saying that Jackal sucks is a more than a fair bit cruel. It does not seem to be the way the vehicle is considered, also keeping in mind that it's been chosen by the Australian SAS as well, and rather recently.

      Foxhound will likely be better, but:

      - We don't know if and when there will be enough money to replace the many vehicles that Foxhound could and should indeed replace.

      - Its awesomeness is only a promise as of now, and just a part of it has been shown by trials in the UK. Can we wait a little bit and see how it actually fares in the battle zone, before we assume it is the solution to all our problems? I think

      - Considering the first point i made, if the army can bring the Jackal back from Stan and put it into core budget and replace the older and far less protected Land Rover WMIKs and EWMIKS, and also create the recce squadrons needed, it is already a very, very, very good development.
      And a good use of a lot of money already expended and of a lot of experience gained in these years.

  3. Thank you Gabs

    Re: 40mm CTA
    There may also be the possibility of a Case Telescoped Guided Projectile (CTGP) round.
    I believe this would be based on the starstreak projectile's technology, in other words laser guided.

    The advantages would be:
    1) vs Tungsten Pellet Airburst
    a) Higher probability of a hit (pHit) per shell, and therefore greater stored kills per turreted magazine.
    b) Greater effect against harder targets (eg: missiles and bombs rather than drones)
    2) vs Starstreak/LMM
    cheaper per kill.
    In truth these three methods would probably be complementary.


    1. I knew of the guided projectile option, but i'm not really sure that it would be cheaper, nor i'm i that convinced it would be more effective.
      Lastly, i did not heard of any progress on it in quite some time: the doubt is that it might have been abandoned altogether.

    2. Re: i'm not really sure that it would be cheaper, nor i'm i that convinced it would be more effective

      See the penultimate page of the (brochureware crossed out) link.

      Re: i did not heard of any progress on it in quite some time

      Yes that was in 2006 and there is nothing I can find open source more recent, so may be on the shelf, though it seemed workable then. Even better of course in 57mm or 75mm.

  4. Sorry for bringing up an old thread but I was looking over the fres programme as it seems that these are the only armoured vehicles the UK are going to procure for at least the next 30 years.

    A few questions, where will this vehicle be manufactured? I'm hoping its the UK because the skills based and economic based side of any military procurement is far more vital to the UK at the minute than any fleet of armoured vehicles! We need the jobs and skills and the export potential is one of the reasons the mod selected it!

    I would of still have chosen the cv90 simply because its an incredibly mature, practical and very advanced vehicle with the benefits of being made at Newcastle aswell.

    Secondly, how different is the fres vehicle to the original ascod as there's not a lot of up to date info regarding the project?

    And finally, with chally and warrior basically extinct, with little support for challys gun and ammo, are the mod looking at a light tank variant like the cv90 120 and do you see the UK adopting an aa version?

    1. Challenger and Warrior are far from extint. The Warrior is undergoing a very ambitious upgrade which will make it very possibly the best IFV in the world, and keep it going until 2040. There is also the possibility that a number of Warrior vehicles left "jobless" following reductions to the number of armoured infantry battalions will be converted into support vehicles, possibly including mortar carrier, to help replacing the ancient FV430 series.

      The Challenger is going to be in service just as long, and by 2017 the go ahead should be given to its own upgrade program, currently in early Assessment Phase.

      There's a risk that FRES SV will largely be manufactured abroad, unfortunately, but a final decision might well yet have to come.

      CV90 is not produced in Newcastle, but in Sweden.

      As for ASCOD SV, it is a vastly improved vehicle compared to the baseline ASCOD.

      As for a light gun, there is the possibility to make one on FRES SV hull, and there's some interest, but it's early to say if and when it'll actually happen.

    2. Thank-you for your swift and in depth reply gaby! I'm glad to hear that warrior and chally are still going to be supported for a few decades to come, even though their in limited numbers.

      I asked the question regarding manufacturing as I read a thread stating that 80% of manufacturing will take place in the UK with 70% of the supply chain here and I think the government really needs to ensure that this is the case and if possible get 100% of manufacturing over here as in peace time the economic side of it is far more important.

      So we won't know much more until around 2015 then and the next sdsr? How much commitment do the government have to the programme? Is it even in the ten year planning round?

      In terms of variants then, will we see a command and liaison vehicle, a repair and recovery vehicle, an apc time vehicle (to replace bulldog), an ambulance varient, possibly a light tank variant (air transportable, similar to us stryker) and an aa varient? And the estimate is 2-3000 of these vehicles right?

      Oh and in 2010 bae tried to reverse the decision by saying it would move production from Sweden to Newcastle, which would of been ideal, and could have saved our tank industry, shame really.

      Once again thanks for your time, I'm eagerly awaiting your next post!

    3. Regarding FRES production, the Ministry of Defence has placed NO contractual obligations on General Dynamics UK (GDUK) to manufacture the Scout Specialist Vehicles (Scout SV) platforms in the UK. GDUK has, however, indicated that a significant proportion of the activity may be conducted in the UK.

      In addition, the contract allows for the transfer of the assembly integration and test work on the platforms from off-shore facilities, to the Defence Support Group in the UK. A value for money decision on whether to transfer this work will be taken later in the programme, closer to production. An enabling arrangement for industrial participation has also been put in place with General Dynamics, that will see work being carried out in the UK, or assistance being provided to UK exporters to Spain (assembly of ASCOD, the base vehicle for Scout SV is currently conducted in Spain)

      This is what Peter Luff disclosed in 2011 in a written answer. When the FRES SV will enter manufacture phase, we'll see what actually gets produced in the uk and what not, but i'm not too optimist.

      FRES SV is in the Core Budget in the 10 years program. The government is committed to it. See my latest post on the NAO Major Projects Report 2012 for more info.

      currently being demonstrated are


      Planned variants in Block 2 include Ambulance, Command Post, Engineer recce and Joint Fires Support vehicle.

      As for 2-3000 vehicles, no way in hell. It'll be a few hundreds.

  5. Your Supacat ISTAR link is broke. Try this one: https://supacat.com/newsevents/news/supacat-demonstrates-jackal-istar/?hilite=%22istar%22


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