BAE Systems invests in next-gen 155mm ammunition
Details of this new development were provided in late July at the Future Indirect Fires conference in Bristol by Muneebah Suleman, business development manager, and Ben Worrall, engineering manager – future artillery, in the Land business unit at BAE Systems.
The 155mm thin-walled projectile under development has a more streamlined design and is filled with Next Generation Polymer Bonded Explosive (PBneXt) which is claimed would give 'an enhanced effect on the target'.
This high-explosive (HE) content is insensitive munition (IM)-compliant and manufactured at the Glascoed facility using the recently developed resonant acoustic mixing (RAM) process, which according to BAE Systems 'enables the mixing of typically unmixable formulations using the resonant frequencies of the materials being mixed'.
To give the end user operational flexibility, the 155mm projectile can be fitted with a screw-on base attachment which can be boat tail (BT), base bleed (BB) or rocket assist (RA). For increased accuracy a nose-mounted course-correcting fuze (CCF) or electronic fuze can be fitted.
Installation of the CCF would provide a step-change in accuracy, reduce collateral damage and mean that less rounds are required to neutralise the target, according to BAE.
While the first example developed is an HE projectile, in the longer term the bespoke shell body would be capable of delivering conventional and novel payloads though an interchangeable structure.
The management of ammunition from the storage area to the front line has always been a problem and for the 155mm round, intelligent packaging would be a key part. This is a digital solution to track the health of the munition as well as the ability to download and analyse environmental data.
According to BAE Systems it is working towards Technology Readiness Level 5 and demonstration firings are due later in 2023 from 155mm/52cal ordnance at a UK range. Production could potentially commence in 2025 if a contract was placed.
The 155mm projectile body would be manufactured at BAE Systems' Washington facility with Glascoed carrying out load and pack.
Glynn Plant, MD at BAE Systems Land said: 'As a business we’re constantly striving to develop world-class solutions for our customers. Out Next Generation Adaptable Ammunition is our latest industry-disrupting product offering that brings together cutting-edge technology and expertise, providing a real operational advantage.'
While the first application is for 155mm artillery, there is potential for other uses such as 5-inch naval ammunition as this calibre has been selected to replace the 4.5-inch guns used by the RN in the long term.
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