British army gets first tank with side loading
THE British Army has taken delivery of the first 515 new 40 mm cannons that will be fitted to the Ajax and Warrior vehicles and which incorporate unique technologies that will provide superior firepower.
Developed by specialist engineers from BAE Systems and Nexter Systems, the cannon system uses an innovative design for both the cannon and its ammunition, and is the first completely new cannon system ordered by the MOD since the sixties.
This loading system on the new 40 mm Cased Telescoped Cannon System, which was handed over to the British Ministry of Defence ( MoD) in Bourges, France, by CTA International ( CTAI), is claimed to provide more firepower while saving space. The cannon uses a new rotating breech system, with ammunition loaded from the side, but at a 90- degree angle to the barrel before being rotated into the firing position.
Slotting the ammunition in sideways saves a large amount of space in the vehicle, allowing this to be used to store more ammunition or other equipment. The cannon has been developed and is manufactured by CTAI, whose factory is now in full production of the new cannon for the MOD.
More explosion per round
The new cannon fires 40 mm Cased Telescoped ammunition, manufactured for the British Army by BAE Systems’ munitions factories in Washington, Tyne and Wear and Glascoed in Wales.
The key to the new 40 mm gun is its Cased Telescoped ammuni- tion. Instead of using traditional bullet- shaped rounds with the projectile upfront and a cannister of propellant behind, Cased Telescoped ammunition consists of a straight tube with the projectile inside the tube completely surrounded by propellant and a plug in front that provides a gas- tight seal to drag the shell along. BAE says that this gives the shell four times the power of the previous 30 mm round.
The new ammunition can deliver a more explosive charge — up to four times the power of the 30 mm rounds it replaces.
The current types of ammunition developed for the cannon include armour piercing and training rounds, while a new airburst round for engaging light vehicles and infantry spread over a large area, and a point detonating round which can penetrate thick concrete, are currently undergoing qualification. CTAI is also working on an anti- aerial airburst round for airborne targets.
BAE Systems, which is a 50/ 50 partner in CTAI along with Nexter Systems, said the delivery is the first of 515 40mm cannons for the British Army’s Warrior and Ajax armoured fighting vehicles.
The new system has been in development since the nineties and has undergone extensive testing.
Minister of State for Defence Procurement Philip Dunne said: “This next- generation cannon has been developed through close Anglo- French collaboration and adds significantly to the capability of the UK and our Nato allies. The delivery of the first cannon on our Ajax vehicles is another example of how our £ 178 billion investment in UK Defence is ensuring our armed forces have the equipment they need.”
Managing director of CTAI Craig Fennell, said: “This is a significant milestone for CTAI and a proud moment to see our cannon being handed over to the British Army.
“We are the only group in the world who can design and manufacture this type of cannon and ammunition, giving us a unique product for export.”
The handover of the first cannon follows many years of exhaustive testing and qualification, which have proved the effectiveness and reliability of the system.
The first new tank in the UK in over 50 years, loads its rounds at a 90- degree angle to the barrel to save space.