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Issue N째 26 March / April 2016

Blank (Editorial) Small arms CAE simulation centre in Brunei Support weapons Targeting ISIL

Excellence at your side

OUR COMMITMENT TO YOU Armed forces face increasingly complex engagement scenarios where there is no room for error. In this demanding environment you can count on our expert teams who are committed to bringing you cutting edge, combat-proven technology and autonomy in defence. AIR DOMINANCE





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Blank - Joseph Roukoz


Support Weapons - Paolo Valpolini


Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant targeted - David Oliver



Small Arms - Paolo Valpolini


Industry Shows Classification - EDR Staff


Lignt and Medium Mortars: the infantryman artillery - Paolo Valpolini



CAE Brunei Simulation Training Centre opens - David Oliver



Nexter Ammunition: an inside view - Paolo Valpolini

Publisher: Editor-in-Chief:

Joseph Roukoz David Oliver

European Defence Review issue no. 26

European Defence Review (EDR) is published by European Defence Publishing SAS

EDR - March / April 2016




Joseph Roukoz

Blank is this piece of paper when I try to come up with something to say for this edition of the magazine. I find myself entangled in the primary fear of a young student, who can’t come up with the first sentence of a research paper.


ut I am not a student, and unlike this stressed student, I don’t think I will be able to come up with a catchy statement, or an intellectual opening to this editorial. This is too bad though because things are happening: Great Britain is going through consistent debates on its future with the European Union, the migration crisis is still ongoing, the war in Syria is reaching a very improbable ceasefire, and so on. But is there really anything more to add? Yet, I don’t lack of questions, like any other European citizen. Are we walking on the head? Did we reach the 4th dimension yet? Let’s have a look at our three friends, Germany, France, and Great Britain. German Chancellor is lucky. She is satisfied by the inheritance of Schröder and the result of his long mandate. The financial power Germany accumulated from all the years of tough reform makes it able to command in Europe and politely ask its failing counterparts to either adapt to tough reform agendas, or be strangled by debt and get out of the game. France also is in desperate needs for economic reforms, that no government since the presidency of Giscard D’Estaing in the seventies has ever put into place. There is a French word for what happened since then: “réformettes”, which is a funny childish sentence to say “microscopic-short-sighted-and-counter-productive-attempts-to-reform-secondary-issues”. The role of President in France seems to have transformed into a gig, managed by private companies called “political parties”, instead of being a transcending role figure, representing the people and defending the interests of a whole Nation. Trade unions remain very strong in France, despite the recent reports by the parliament about the failures of management that cost millions of Euros to taxpayers, especially in the fields of liberal professions. Some privileged lobbyists will not let go of their interests and better harmonize equity in the French society. This plague is reaching every sector in France, even noble causes, like the ecology and environment protection. Instead of building a strong group pressure in the political life in France, the representatives of that cause recently revealed their true face: mere political men seeking power, like all others. Their interests made them abandon the Green party that is now falling into pieces. Has political life in France turned into a supermarket, various brands for the same product? The number of unemployment is increasing in France, and when there is a slight hope in decreasing numbers, we end up discovering it was a technical error on calculation systems. And there goes Great Britain, with its canny Prime Minister, that is using a complex communication strategy to let Europeans believe his country is threatening to leave the EU if we do not respond to his needs. And as expected, - Great Britain’s anger is more worthy than that of Greece in the minds of powerful nations, compromise ends up in favor of London, even though everybody knows the Brits would have the most to loose if they ever leave Europe. Blank remains this paper, full of heartfelt complaints of a normal citizen, a witness of his time. A witness of the European crisis, that doesn’t even have an army to defend it in the face of neighboring threats. Hope only remains in the European citizen that has long been voluntarily disconnected from European matters to demotivate him from acting and ask its politicians to be accountable for what they do with his taxes. But is the citizen enough at this point in time, where Europe is boarded into a war with no foreseeable exit? And there continues the Human comedy.


EDR - March / April 2016


© Natcom - - 01 47 30 31 32 - Photos : Sirpa Terre, Mer et Air – DCI


Here fitted with a standard optical sight, the new Carl-Gustaf M4 can be equipped with an optronic fire control system that will allow the programming of airburst munitions. (P. Valpolini)

Support Weapons

Paolo Valpolini

Many missions require the infantry combat group to be capable to autonomously lay down direct support fire against armoured vehicles or against reinforced structures, for which automatic weapons would not be very effective. In both cases the soldier needs a portable and powerful weapon, usually a rocket launcher.


his can be of two types, disposable or re-usable; usually at combat group level we find disposable weapons while reusable ones are available to the higher echelon, however this rule is far from being set in stone, thus major manufacturers often propose both solutions. The changing environment has brought to an increasing number of different types of warheads used in those systems, which during the Cold War were mostly used for anti-armour missions. A major drawback of older systems was the consistent backblast: to operate such weapons the soldier needed a wide open space behind him, something feasible in the open spaces of the German countryside, but much less so in urban scenarios. This led the industry to develop new versions of their weapon systems that could be used in enclosed spaces; of course everything comes at a price, and as those systems usually adopt a countermass to


compensate recoil, the weight of the countermass is substracted from that of the propulsion unit, in order to keep the weight within limits, thus affecting the range, which is however limited in urban canyons. One of the latest entries in the direct fire support world is the M4 version of the Carl-Gustaf 84 mm man-portable reusable anti-tank recoilless rifle produced by Saab Dynamics, which weighs half the original M1/M2 model, and over 30 per cent less that the more recent M3. When no accessories are installed the M4 weighs only 6.7 kg, its length having been reduced to less than one metre, length being an issue when moving in urban environments. To reduce length a new Venturi was designed, which ensures the same recoil reduction of the former one while being not only shorter but also lighter. But the main weight saving comes from the adoption of a titanium/ carbon fibre barrel, which took 1.1 kg off comEDR - March / April 2016

The Carl-Gustaf system can fire numerous different types of ammunition, which cover nearly all needs of infantry and special forces units. (EDR/P. Valpolini)

pared with the M3. The standard sight remains the same adopted on the previous version that allows firing of all ten combat rounds currently available as well as the two training rounds. However the M4 can also accept an intelligent sight, the one currently used being the Aimpoint FCS12, which can feed programming data into new rounds currently in advanced development phase that feature airbust capability; this will improve performances compared to the current HE441D, in which the fuse is set manually. Provided as option, the communication system features a galvanic contact on the guiding pin that ensures the two-way dialogue between the chambered round and the sight, a remote control on the right side of the front grip ensuring fuse setting while keeping the firing position. Compared to the HE441D, which features steel balls of about 5 mm diameter, the new round based on the development work done on the new AT-4CS HE, is based on tungsten balls the diameter of which is roughly half that of the older round. The mass of each tungsten ball being about one fourth that of a steel one, these have a much greater initial speed, increasing kinetic thus providing a considerable improved penetration against light protected targets, while the overall fragment density is considerably increased due to the higher number of balls. The leEDR - March / April 2016

thal area for both is of over 400 m2, however the Carl-Gustaf round is not designed for being fired from an enclosed space, priority being given to hitting troops in the open at medium range. The warhead is thus shaped in order to also cover the rear, which is not the case for the AT-4CS HE, a disposable system developed with urban warfare in mind. In this case fragmentation is generated in the forward half sphere, in order to minimise risks for friendly troops. The latter should reach qualification in early 2016 while the Carl-Gustaf round should follow a year later. As for the Carl-Gustaf M4 itself, qualification is scheduled in Q1 2016, the company carrying on the qualification process in parallel with the launch customer, that is the Slovak Republic, two more countries having acquired a limited number of M4s for evaluation/qualification purposes. Some other “early adopters� are in deep discussions with the Karlskoga-based company, which is already looking at new types of rounds, both in the confined space and standard versions. The most recent order for Carl-Gustaf ammunition came in late January 2016 from the European Defence Agency, which coordinates purchases for Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, the Czech Republic and Poland; no details were provided on the types of ammunition and the final customer, deliveries being expected in 2017.


The disposable system from Saab Dynamics is the AT-4, which is available in six different versions, including antitank and anti-structure warheads. (Saab)

As for the over 1.5 km range Ultra Light Missile announced in Fall 2014, Saab Dynamics is analysing with potential customers which are the capability gaps that this guided round launched from the Carl-Gustaf should fill. Back to the AT-4, Saab Dynamics bagged a considerable order from France in late 2014, which included the two latest iterations of the company’s disposable 84 mm weapon, the already mentioned AT4CS HE, and the AT4CS ER, for extended range. The former is 980 mm long, weighs around 9 kg and has a maximum operational range of 1,000 metres, when using the FCS12 intelligent sight that allows to programme the round fuse, as it does on the Carl-Gustaf. Although an iron sight is available, Saab Dyamics strongly advises to adopt at least the red dot sight, which considerably increases accuracy, and is available also on the ER model. Compared to the old antitank version of the AT-4, the first to be developed, the higher V0 and the flatter trajectory of the extended range version coupled to the red dot sight dramatically increase the hit probability, especially against moving targets. For long range shots, around 600-700 meters, the intelligent sight is by far the best option to obtain a good HP. The AT-4 ER is fitted with


a single shaped-charge warhead, however company sources state that a tandem solution, such as that adopted in the CG751 Carl-Gustaf round, is compatible with extended range capabilities. It is to note that AT-4 enclosed space models feature a liquid countermass, which generates a smaller backblast and thus a reduced safety area compared to a solid countermass. The latter is used in Carl-Gustaf rounds, as this works better when using a Venturi for compensating recoil. The AT-4 ER should reach qualification in late 2015, while the HE should follow in early 2016, deliveries to France being scheduled for mid 2016. Looking into the future, Saab Dynamics is working on numerous undisclosed solutions that might be integrated into rounds with new capabilities, the latter being continuously monitored in close cooperation with the company’s closer customers. The aim is to reduce as much as possible the time between the appearance of a new need and the delivery of the system that answers that need. Another key player in the light direct fire support weapons for infantry is Dynamit Nobel Defence (DND) of Germany, whose portfolio includes a range of 60 mm and 90 mm calibre systems, in the latter both in one-shot and reusable configurations. Mostly used by Special Forces, EDR - March / April 2016

the RGW60 has found customers in Germany and in two or three other nations, and is available in three versions. For urban warfare DND developed a version fitted with a High Explosive Squash Head (HESH) warhead with delay fuse, capable to penetrate a 250 mm thick reinforced concrete wall generating a 400 mm diameter hole. A multipurpose version with shaped charge/ fragmentation warhead, known as HEAT-MP, is available, fragments adding to the 100 mm rolled homogeneous armour (RHA) penetration capability. For medium armoured targets the HEAT version is provided, capable of penetrating over 300 mm RHA. All have a range between 15 and 300 metres, are 0.88 metres long, and weigh 5.8 kg. Following a US request for similar weapons weighing less than 5 kg DND started a feasibility study for a new generation of RGW60, which should be lighter and feature improved warheads. Should the company R&D department provide viable solutions the plan is to have a prototype ready in 2-3 years time from now.

Among its 90 mm calibre weapons Dynamit Nobel Defence offers an anti-structure munition capable to open up holes in masonry and concrete walls. (DND) EDR - March / April 2016

German soldiers armed with an RGW anti-structure 90 mm system and a 60 mm antitank wystem. (photo DND)

Coming to the RGW90 family, this includes a HEAT/HESH antitank-multipurpose version, an anti-structure munition, and an area-denial one. The HEAT/HEASH features a shaped charge warhead which works as a HEAT round if the fuse probe is extracted, providing the standoff distance for generating the high-velocity jet aimed at penetrating over 500 mm of RHA; however if the probe is not extracted the charge acts as a HESH warhead, allowing to open a breach in a triple brick wall. The RGW90 HEAT/HESH is one metre long in transport configuration and 1.15 metres with the probe extended for firing, has a range between 20 and 500 metres and a weight of 8.7 kg. The anti-structure version, RGW90 AS, features an enhanced-blast twostage warhead; two modes can be used, a blast mode where the first charge opens the path to the second, which explodes inside the building, this mode being used also against light armoured vehicles, or in breach mode, where both charges explode at impact creating a major opening in the wall. Weight increases to 10 kg, while range is between 10 and 400 metres. The weight issue remains one of the key elements in such systems, DND being currently involved in a weight shrinking programme for its RGW90 family. The


Developed and produced by Carl Zeiss Optronics, now Airbus D&S, the Dynahawk is the sight of choice of the new RGW90 1200 metres, known in the Bundeswehr as Wirkmittel 90. (Airbus D&S)

main saving will come from the launch tube: the company improved the design of such element, patented a new filament winding process that allows increasing the strength while decreasing thickness, and adopted a lower weight liner, aiming at a reduction of over half a kilogram. Composite structural components as well as composite carbon fins allow further weight reduction, DND aiming at providing RGW90s at less than 8 kg. The new launch tube should be qualified in two years time. The tube accounts for about 1 per cent of the system cost, the overall cost of disposable parts being around 30 per cent, the other being the sight and the firing mechanism. All RGW90s can be fired from enclosed spaces, and feature a sustainer motor that allows maintaining the speed between 200 and 240 m/s along the entire path, which considerably reduces the sensibility to lateral wind thus reducing drift, the company declaring a 70 per cent hit probability at the maximum effective range. tThe same principle is used in the Effector 90, the latest development in the 90 mm calibre, its first iteration being the Area Denial; with a 1,200 metres maximum range, its length is under one metre while weight is 8.9 kg; the latter increases to 11 kg if the Dynahawk sighting device is used. The latter, developed in cooperation with Airbus Defence & Space Optronics, features a 5.5 sight with an 11° FoV and includes a Class 1 laser rangefinder with a maximum range of 1.2 km, a ballistic computer, tilt and cant sensors, and


a gyroscope for engaging moving targets. The Dynahawk provides the data to the programmable fuse fitted to the RGW90 AD (area denial) warhead, when used in the air burst mode for detonating over the intended target. The warhead contains 3,500 tungsten balls and covers a lethal area of 150 m2, that is a lethal radius of about seven metres, a dispersion of Âą 3 metres being considered optimal to ensure maximum effectiveness. Considering the long range, which means about six seconds flight, wind has to be considered: while the side wind problem is mostly solved using the sustainer motor, the tail or head component of the wind is critical, as it might generate a dispersion of some 40 metres. The RGW90 AD is thus fitted with a 0g sensor that measures velocity differences along the path, permanently recalculating the time of flight based on the target distance, provided by the Dynarange, and the V0 measured at the beginning of the flight, thus allowing to maintain the required Âą 3 metres dispersion. Thanks to the multimode fuse the RGW90AD warhead can also be used in impact or delayed mode, depending on the target. DND non-disposable antitank systems are part of the Panzerfaust 3 family, which comes with standard shaped charge, tandem and improved tandem ammunitions. In service with many armies including the German Bundeswehr, the latter is looking at the new Effector 90 as a replacement for the Panzerfaust, a whole series of ammunition being currently under development, HEAT/HESH, anti structure, illumination, smoke and a practice. When clipped on the round the Dynahawk will get the type of ammunition, thus the ballistic data, as well as the production lot related data, the soldier having thus to chose only the mode, when more than one is allowed. The sight will show the mode, the status of the safety lever, the laser mark, the cant angle, the target distance and the aiming mark, which in case of moving target will also include the lead, the shooter having thus only to bring the aiming mark on the target and squeeze the trigger. The multi-spectral smoke round and the illumination rounds, visual and infrared, are beEDR - March / April 2016

The Panzerfaust 3, here used by Italian mountain troops, remains one key element of the DND catalogue although the Bundeswehr should soon replace it. (EDR/P. Valpolini)

ing developed in cooperation with Rheinmetall. The Effector 90 should be defined Panzerfaust Licht (light) in the Bundeswehr, a Panzerfaust Schwer (heavy) being in the German Army plans, dedicated to armoured targets. DND is thus developing a weapon with a 110 mm calibre shaped charge tandem-warhead capable of penetrating over 900 mm behind ERA, an improved shaped charge design being also under development in order to improve effectiveness by 40-50 per cent thanks to new production techniques while retaining a copper liner. A Panzerfaust 6 name has been tentatively announced, while no timeframe for the new system has been declared. According to the latest info the Bundeswehr will buy the RGW in November 2016; named Wirkmittel 90 it will be delivered, at least initially, to the Kommando Spezialkräfte (KSK), the number of systems to be ordered remaining classified. In 2010 MBDA launched the Enforcer programme, aiming at a low-cost (compared to available missiles) infantry missile to cover the low tier battlefield market, with greater range and greater precision than infantry rocket systems. The new system leveraged the synergies of three company funded initiatives, the KFK (Kleinflugkörper) being developed for Germany, the LoCoPE (Low Cost Precision Effects) EDR - March / April 2016

being a company funded development looking at a multinational need by the company “national” customers (France, Germany, Italy and the UK), and MBDA’s 2010 CVS101 Concept Vision innovation programme. The name Enforcer comes from that of the CVS101-96 missile, used in the Thumper CVS101-111 launcher, the two having a forecasted combined weight of 7.5 kg. MBDA scientists were looking at a lock-on-before-launch/ lock-on-after-launch missile that could be used from enclosed spaces. As Concept Vision studies look 20+ years ahead, it is clear that the KFK Enforcer cannot include technologies still to be developed. The system which full development started in late 2014, following a conceptual phase, is thus a more conservative fire and forget, lock-on-before-launch weapon with a maximum range of 2 km. It is fitted with a multi-role HE-FRAG warhead developed by TDW that ensures optimal terminal effects against behind-cover unprotected targets, lightly armoured vehicles, and buildings. To keep costs at bay the company makes extensive use of modularity, and is re-using off the shelf components, many of them available in-house. The Enforcer comes as a wooden round, sealed in its square-section launch tube to accommodate the four folding fins stubs; developed as an insen-


Urban scenarios becoming more and more frequent, the KFK Enforcer is fitted with a soft launch system that allows its use from enclosed spaces. (MBDA)

sitive munition, the whole package weighs less than 9 kg, the missile weighing 6 kg, the softlaunch system 1 kg and the canister 2 kg. A further 2.1 kg are added by the Dynahawk sight, produced by Airbus DS Optronics and already used on DND rocket launchers, thus allowing scale savings for the potential German customer, other systems being considered for export customers. The guidance system is based on a strap-down electronically gimballed near-IR sensor, electronics mimicking the gimbal effect so that the sensor is locked onto the target after the launch. This solution allows considerable cost savings compared to mechanically gimballed systems. In full development since over one year, the system completed six successful firings to prove viability of technology and design. The KFK Enforcer target in service date is 2018, to meet the anticipated German customer requirements. MBDA considers a spiral development of the system, including new warheads and seekers, a semi-active laser being one option for an air-launched version, and possibly a data link. A translatlantic product One of the most widely used light rocket launchers for infantry, with over 350,000 pieces produced overall probably second only to RPGs,


is the M72 LAW, which has a long history but has been constantly upgraded in order to maintain its effectiveness in new scenarios. The two most recent commercial successes obtained from Nammo Talley of the US are that for Israel, worth 63 million dollars, signed in September 2014, with deliveries to be completed within 2018, and the four-year indefinite delivery indefinite quantity of anti-armour and anti-structure M72s for the US Department of Defense, signed in January 2015. The company catalogue contains currently five versions of the M72 66 mm calibre disposable system, all 780 mm long in transport position and 980 mm long in firing position. with weights between 3.5 and 3.7 kg. The A5 and A6 weigh both 3.6 kg and have a light armour, shaped charge, multipurpose warhead containing 315 grams of Octol. Both are capable to penetrate over 200 mm of reinforced concrete or earth wall, however against armour the A6 which features a shaped charge with a hemispherical liner penetrates 150 mm RHA, while the A5 was developed under request of some customers and has the conical liner of the A3 model while keeping the improvements in terms of propulsion. Slightly lighter, the A7 retains the performances of the A6 but its warhead is based on PBXN-9 explosive, the system thus falling in the insensitive munitions category. A case on its own is the M72A9 ASM, for Anti-Structure Munition, which features an explosive anti-structure fragmenting case warhead and weighs 4.3 kg. Muzzle velocity is much lower than in previous models, 130 m/s versus 200 m/s, effective range being also reduced to 200 metres. The delayed time fuse allows to detonate the charge inside the target to maximise damages. Another step is being made by Nammo Talley: until now all the M72 were not designed for enclosed space usage. The company is currently developing a new variant known as M72 FFE, that is fire-from-enclosure, which will considerably increase the system capabilities especially when fighting in urban terrain. Once known as M72E8, some performance issues led to a thorough analysis and redesign at company expenditures, which led to the current FFE which adopts EDR - March / April 2016

The first customer targeted being the Bundeswehr, the KFK Enforcer maintains the same Dynahawk sight used on the Wirkmittel 90. (MBDA)

a liquid counter-mass system. This makes the weapon heavier than the original systems, but it remains the lighter in its category at comparable performances. The new propulsion system led to a 10-15 per cent increase both of the maximum effective and maximum ranges, while also improving accuracy. Not only, the new system also considerably reduced the launch visual and acoustic signatures. The FFE family has The SMAW weighs around 7.7 kg, is 1.37 metres long when loaded and fires an 83 mm calibre rocket at a maximum effective range of 500 metres. (USMC)

two different warheads, an anti-structure munition with a dual mode, dual safe fuse (M72E10) and an anti-armour variant with slightly better penetration than the A7 (M72E8). Nammo Talley plans to start initial production in 2017 and looks forward for a contract soon, planning to add other warheads to the FFE family as customers’ needs will dictate. In Norway Nammo Raufoss has developed and produces four models, M72A5, M72A6, M72 EC and M72 ASM RC. The M72 EC, for enhanced capacity and formerly known as M72 E9 Deep Penetration, features an aluminised HE shaped charge warhead and has been developed in two different sub-versions; the Mk1 was designed for maximum penetration, 450 mm RHA, while the Mk2 maintains the same penetration of the A5 mode, that is over 300 mm RHA but with better behind armour effects, its cost being also marginally lower. Nammo is already working on further improvements, and in the coming two-three years new members of the M72 family should be unveiled. The M72 ASM RC, for reduced calibre, is the only version which warhead has not a 66 mm calibre but a 42 mm one. Developed to minimise collateral damages, the anti-structure high explosive en-

The SMAW is made of a forward launcher with trigger unit, aiming sight and spotting rifle, and an ammunition contained in a sealed tube which is inserted in the launcher from the rear. (USMC)

hanced blast DPX-6 1 warhead is in carbon fibre rather than metal, and features a dual mode fuse, with short and long delay. No figures are given about penetration but it is meant for targets such as brick and adobe walls, earth fortification and light vehicles. Nammo Raufoss foresees a future evolution for the M72 ASM RC as an airburst weapon. Both the EC and RC feature a carbon fibre launch tube, a dual safe fuse and an on-axis trigger, those features becoming a standard on newly developed versions, as well as the presence of Picatinny rails capable to host reflex day sights or night vision devices. The European-made M72s bagged numerous successes in recent years, and the EC and RC models will remain key products in the future with the mentioned upgrades widening the portfolio. As for fire from enclosed, this will be produced only in the United States. Several new systems are in development and should be ready by early 2017. Nammo Talley is also producing 83 mm caliber systems, the disposable item being the BDM M141 while the SMAW (Shoulder-Launched Multipurpose Assault Weapon) is made of a reusable launcher tube and ammunition. The BDM M141 is still well sought after by old and new customers, the company considering improvements to the fuse and the warhead in the near future. On 23 September 2015 Nammo Talley received Delivery Order 19 by the US military. As for the SMAW Nammo


Talley is currently providing the USMC with further batches of ammo; an indefinite delivery/ indefinite quantity contract for new munitions, HE dual purpose, novel explosive and common practice, was awarded on 12 September 2015, a first production contract worth 42.7 million US$ for common practice rockets being awarded one month later. A new SMAW for the Marines On 23 October 2015 the Marine Corps Systems Command awarded Atlantic Diving Supply (ADS) a contract to build the new SMAW Mod.2 shoulder-launched, multi-purpose assault weapon. ADS is partnered with L-3 Communications, which will provide the new modular ballistic sight, and Wegmann USA, which will actually manufacture the weapon, ADS being in charge of final system integration. Compatible with existing SMAW ammunition, the new weapon system will be lighter and will ensure a shorter acquisition time thanks to the new sighting system that replaces the old 9 mm spotting rifle. The five-year, indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract awarded to ADS is worth USD 72 million. The company is under contract to make 56 systems under the terms of the first delivery order, the SMAW Mod.2 having an approved acquisition objective of 1,249 systems. Low rate production is scheduled for Q2 2016, fielding decision being , awaited for Q1 2017.  EDR - March / April 2016

CAN oNe AirCrAft do the work of three?

the A400M – MULti-tASkiNG where it’S Needed MoSt. You asked for an aircraft that could deliver heavy cargoes over considerable distances. You asked for one to land payloads wherever they are needed (and we do mean wherever). You asked for another that could refuel air-to-air. In the A400M we give you all three. It is the only plane to combine these critical capabilities and offers proof that one size can quite literally fit all. Find out more at EDR - March / April 2016


Armee de l’Air Rafales based at Al Dhafra in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are conducting air strikes against ISIL as part of Operation Chammal. (Ministère de la Défense)

David Oliver

Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant targeted When NATO forces began withdrawing from Afghanistan in 2013 after more than a decade of operations, member nations began to plan downsizing their armed forces, only to face a growing threat emerging even closer to Europe.


ollowing the outbreak of the Syrian Civil War in August 2011, an offshoot of al-Qaeda under the leadership of al-Baghdadi, delegated a mission into Syria that established a large presence in Sunni-majority provinces. This well financed and organized group proclaimed itself the “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant” (ISIL) in April 2013 and at the same time it claimed territory in Iraq and Syria. Its brutal forces have subsequently gained territory in Libya, Egypt, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen which has prompted a response from not only neighbouring counties, but from multi-national forces acting as members of a US-led coalition. Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR) is the US military operational name for the military intervention in the form of air strikes against ISIL, in both Iraq and in Syria. In began in June 2014


and from September 2015, III Corps is responsible for Combined Joint Task Force- Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR). USAF F-15Es, F-16Cs and A-10Cs are based at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey and KC-135 tanker aircraft from Al Udeid in Qatar. US Marine Corps AV-8B Harriers operate from the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge while strike aircraft from nuclear powered aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) flew their first missions in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, on 29 December 2015. The US carrier and its embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 7 with F/A-18E/F Super Hornets, EA18G Prowlers and E-2C Hawkeye AEW aircraft joined the French nuclear powered aircraft carrier F S Charles De Gaulle (R 91) in conducting combined combat operations in Iraq and Syria from the Arabian Gulf. EDR - March / April 2016

Operation Chammal is the name of the French military operation that is currently ongoing in Iraq and Syrian an attempt to contain the expansion of ISIL and to support the Iraqi Army. It carried out its first air strikes in September 2014. Six Armee de l’Air Rafales based at Al Dhafra in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), plus an Atlantique 2 and a C-135FR tanker aircraft, and three Mirage 2000Ds and three Mirage 2000Ns and a Boeing E-3F Sentry AEW&C aircraft are operating from Al Azraq Air Base in Jordan. Syria On 15 November 2015 Rafales and Mirage 2000Ds struck targets in Raqqa in Syria for the first time. On 15 December, Armee de l’Air Rafales operating from Base Aerienne 104 Al Dhafra, in the UAE, carried out an air strike against an ISIL headquarters and training centre at Al Qaim near the Iraq/Syrian border using MBDA SCALP air-launched cruise missiles for the first time. In 2015, Task Force 473 with the aircraft carrier FS Charles De Gaulle (R 91) as its flagship was deployed to the Persian Gulf as part of Operation Chammal. The air group deployed on R 91 includes 12 Aeronavale Rafale Ms, eight Super Etendards, two EC-2C Hawkeye 2000s, two AS365N3 Dauphins and one Alouette III. The first air strikes on ISIL targets in Syria from the carrier took place on 23 November 2015. Operation Shader is the code name given to the British participation in the ongoing military intervention against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

The operation began in Iraq on 26 September 2014, following a formal request for assistance by the Iraqi government. Royal Air Force (RAF) aircraft involved belong to No. 903 Expeditionary Air Wing and include 10 MQ-9A Reaper Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) stationed in Kuwait, nine Typhoon FGR.4 multirole fighters and 10 Tornado GR.4 strike aircraft and two Voyager KC.3 tanker aircraft stationed at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus, and an RC-135W Airseeker reconnaissance aircraft stationed at RAF Al Udeid in Qatar. Other RAF assets deployed to Operation Shader include a Sentinel R.1 ISTAR aircraft, a Shadow R.1 reconnaissance aircraft, two Sentry AEW.1 Airborne Early Warning and Control aircraft (AEW&C) aircraft. Four Tornado jets took off from RAF Akrotiri, Cyprus, to conduct the first offensive operation over Syria on 3 December 2015. Overnight, RAF Tornado GR.4s, supported by a Voyager a tanker aircraft and a Reaper RPAS, and operating in conjunction with other coalition aircraft, employed Paveway IV guided bombs to conduct strikes against six targets within the ISIL-held extensive oilfield at Omar, 35 miles inside Syria’s eastern border with Iraq. On 10 January 2016 attacks involved two Tornado jets and a Reaper RPAS hitting ISIL positions and vehicles near Raqqa and two more Tornadoes hit ISIL tunnels near the same city. At the same time a combined Reaper and Tornado attacked An armed Super Etendard catapulted from the carrier FS Charles de Gaulle for a mission over Iraq. (Marine National)

RAF Tornado GR.4s armed with Paveway IV guided bombs stationed at RAF Akrotiri during Operation Shader. (Crown Copyright)

the Omar oil fields using MBDA Dual Mode Brimstone missiles, whose targeting capabilities were cited by the Government as reasons for Britain joining the coalition efforts against the terrorists in Syria. By mid-January RAF Reapers had flown 1,000 missions against ISIL targets flying day and night over Iraq and Syria, and its aircraft had conducted a total of 430 airstrikes killing over 1,200 ISIL fighters with zero civilian casualties. The Royal Navy continued to support the allied operation as the Type 23 frigate HMS St Albans joined the FS Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier group. Other European nations supporting the USled coalition include Belgium, Denmark, Italy, Germany and the Netherlands.

Six Belgian Air Force F-16AMs operated from Muwaffaq Salti Air Base at Al Azraq in Jordan from September 2014 under the national codename Operation Desert Falcon. The Belgian detachment comprised 120 personnel and by the end of the operation in July 2015, the F-16s had flown 796 sorties, totaling 3,552 flying hours over Iraq dropping bombs on ISIL targets on 163 of them without causing any collateral damage. Seven Royal Danish Air Force F-16s accompanied by almost a hundred personnel, have been engaged in the military operation in Iraq since October 2014 stationed at Ahmed Al Jaber Air Base in neighboring Kuwait. In the first year of operations, four of the F-16s conducted some 500 Close Air Support missions and dropped more than 464 bombs, while the other three

USAF and RAF MQ-9A Reaper Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) armed with Hellfire missiles take part in air strikes against ISIL targets. (David Oliver)


EDR - March / April 2016

Taking part in Operation Impact, Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) CF-188 Hornets are refueled by USAF KC-135 tankers. (USAF)

aircraft were held in reserve. Targets included weapon positions, personnel, vehicles and buildings confirmed by reconnaissance means as in use by ISIL terrorists. Assets from the Italian Air Force include two MQ-1 Predator drones, four Tornado IDS and a Gulfstream III ISR aircraft undertaking reconnaissance mission only over Iraq, supported by a Boeing KC-767 tanker aircraft, all of which are stationed at Ahmed Al Jaber Air Base. Two Luftwaffe Tornado ECR aircraft of Taktisches Luftwaffengescheber 51 conducted their first reconnaissance mission against the so-called ISIL positions in Syria and Iraq on 8 January 2016 from Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. Two Tornado ECR aircraft from Jagel, Schleswig-Holstein, in northern Germany, and two from BĂźchel, Rheinland-Palatinate, in the southwest of the country, flew to Incirlik to join the two already there 5 January. The day before, a Luftwaffe Airbus flew in personnel from Hamburg and a Airbus A310 multi-role tanker transport flies missions from Incirlik to refuel coalition aircraft six out of seven days a week, conducting 18 flights in the first three weeks since 15 December flying 82 hours and delivering 300 tons of fuel. A total of eight Royal Netherlands Air Force F-16s joined the coalition and have been operating from Muwaffaq Salti Air Base in Jordan since 24 September 2014 conducting one or two EDR - March / April 2016

sorties per day against ISIL target in both Iraq and Syria. They are supported by a single McDonnell Douglas KDC-10 tanker aircraft. Early non-European members of the coalition were Australia and Canada. At the request of the Iraqi Government, Australian Task Group 630, the Air Task Group of Operation Okra, is operating within a US-led international coalition. In September 2014, an RAAF Air Task Group of 400 personnel was deployed to Al Minhad Air Base in the United Arab Emirates with six F/A-18F Super Hornets from No. 1 Squadron RAAF supported by a KC-30A MRTT from No. 33 Squadron, and a Boeing E-7A Wedgetail AEW&C aircraft. This was the type’s first operational deployment during which the KC-30A refuelled other coalition aircraft. Six Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) CF188 Hornets supported by two CP-140 Aurora ISR aircraft and a CC-150T tanker aircraft are stationed at Camp Patrice Vincent in Kuwait and took part in the first mission of Operation Impact on 30 October 2014. On 20 October 2015, Prime Minister-elect Justin Trudeau announced the impending withdrawal of the RCAF CF-188 aircraft although they were still conducting air strikes against ISIL at the end of January 2016 by which time they had carried out 1,322 sorties. The CC-150T Polaris had conducted 361 sorties, delivering some 21,140,000 pounds of fuel to coalition aircraft and CP-140


Russia’s latest attack aircraft, the Su-34 ‘Fullback’ is taking part in the Russian air campaign to support Syria’s President. (Crown Copyright)

Aurora aircraft had conducted 388 reconnaissance missions. The neighbouring air forces of Bahrain, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the UAE, and Iraq itself, have also participated in air strikes against ISIL. By mid-January 2016 the US and coalition have conducted a total of 9,560 air strikes, 6,341 in Iraq and 3,219 in Syria. The US had conducted a total of 7,390 air strikes while the rest of Coalition had conducted 2,170. Coalition aircraft had flown an estimated 64,172 sorties in support of operations in Iraq and Syria. By 1 January 2016, the total cost of operations related to ISIL since kinetic operations started on 8 August, 2014, was $5.53 billion and the average daily cost is $11 million for 495 days of operations. Running in parallel to Operation Inherent Resolve is a Russian campaign of air strikes conducted at the request of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad that began on 30 September 2015. Russia has claimed that its air strikes are aimed at defeating ISIL but many of them have been conducted against non-ISIL groups which are opposed to President Assad’s regime. In January 2016, OIR Spokesman Colonel Steve Warren gave his response to the Russian campaign. “We don’t coordinate with the Russians. We have a memorandum of understand-


ing that we established with the Russians about two months ago in November, which focuses on de-conflicting airspace. In other words, it’s a set of procedures that we’ve agreed to ensure safety in the skies – in other words, to prevent our aircraft and their aircraft, frankly, from crashing into each other in midair. So that’s really all we have with the Russians at this point. We don’t share targets with them. We don’t tell them what we’re going to do. They don’t tell us what they’re going to do. All we do is have some established procedures to ensure that our aircraft don’t bump into each other. “The Russian presence in Syria has, broadly speaking, been unhelpful. We find that their strike tactics are reckless and indiscriminate. We believe that they’re pursuing a path which is strategically short-sighted. And we find that a majority of their strikes support Bashar al-Assad and his forces. And we believe that Bashar al-Assad, frankly, is the root or one of the major roots of the problem here. It is his policies and conduct which frankly has, we believe, given rise in many ways to ISIL. So that’s how we feel about the Russians.” Syria remains the pivotal flashpoint in the Middle East and its civil war has allowed ISIL to flourish and that in turn has bought the US and its coalition partners too close for comfort with , a resurgent Russia. EDR - March / April 2016

How much criticisms against the G36 Heckler & Koch assault rifle were technical or “political” remains to be seen. (EDR/P. Valpolini)

Small Arms

Paolo Valpolini

Following the Iraqi and Afghan experiences and awaiting to understand where the next major crisis involving western land forces will erupt, discussions on calibres continue, many forces finding that the 5.56x45 mm used by NATO countries as well as by other armies is not the best suited to confront Kalashnikov-armed gunmen.


he 7.62x51 mm comeback has become quite a reality in the light machine gun world, FNH having sold numbers of its Minimi in that calibre, the same calibre becoming popular again in assault rifles. As for Special Forces, these are showing considerable interest in the 300 Blackout, some orders having been already placed by European SF units. As for major contracts, India and France remain those that attract most the interest of major small arms manufacturers. The market Last year a country on the verge of becoming an assault rifle market was Germany. In late 2014 the Heckler & Koch G36 became the subject of heavy criticism linked to an alleged weapon lack of accuracy at high temperatures. The German MoD and the manufacturer disagreed on testing methods, but the issue quickly climbed up the

EDR - March / April 2016

stairs to a political level (or was it politically induced?). What looked like a lead towards a replacement of the Bundeswehr rifle seems to have ended up in a soap bubble, following the results of two studies that cleared both the MoD processes, the manufacturer; a third study concluding that the alleged accuracy problem did not put at risk any German soldier on operations. In fact on 4 September 2015 the BAAINBw issued a “Prior information notice for contracts” for assault rifles, however on 10 October the awarding procedure was discontinued. Until mid-2015 the bigger deal in the small arms field remained that for India, the requirement calling for 160,000 carbines and 220,000 assault rifles. Five major international competitors were engaged in the bids, Beretta, Colt, CZ, IWI and Sig Sauer. Delays seemed to be functional to the acceptance in the bid of the indigenous Multi-Calibre Individual Weapon System.


In fact in July 2015 the Indian Army scrapped the tender for 66,000 assault rifles issued in 2011, stating than none of the four bidders for the tender met the qualitative requirements. The Army apparently opted for an upgraded version of the Insas rifle; in place of a selector with safe, single shot and three-round burst the Excalibur, as it is known, has a safe, single shot, automatic fire selector, a foldable stock and a Picatinny rail, its barrel being slightly shorter than that of the Insas. Also known as MIR (Modified Insas Rifle), the Excalibur is chambered for the 5.56x45 mm round; a 7.62x39 mm version being also under design, the multi-calibre option having apparently being abandoned. No decision has yet been taken on the tender for a first batch of 44,618 CQB carbines; Beretta’s ARX160, IWI’s ACE and Colt’s M4 were downselected and tested in 2013, but since then no further move was made, it is not unlikely that this tender should follow the fate of the assault rifles bid. Although a much smaller market compared with the failed Indian one, the French acquisition of new assault rifles to replace the current Famas under the Armes Individuelles Futures (AIF) programme seems well alive. The rifle will be provided in two versions, standard and short barrel, the contract also including 5.56x45 mm training ammunition, low velocity 40 mm grenades in the dual purpose, training and smoke versions, accessories, maintenance items, spares, instruction materiel and technical documentation, for an estimated value of some 400 million Euros. The overall number of rifles required was originally for some 90,000 pieces, roughly split 50/50 between the two barrel lengths. The ammunition contract included 38

The Beretta ARX160 here fitted with bipod and optical sight. This weapon has obtained considerable success on the export market and is being proposed to France in its latest version. (P. Valpolini)

million 5.56 mm training rounds, 40 mm low velocity grenades including 51,000 dual purpose, 13,000 smoke and 28,000 training ammunition. On 28 July 2015 the 2015-19 planning law was revised, bringing the total number of rifles up to 101,000. Over 20 bidders filed their documents prior to the 14 May 2014 deadline, and a downselection of five bidders should have been done by December 2014, however no details were provided by the DGA. According to unofficial information the five companies should be Heckler & Koch of Germany with the HK416, FN Herstal of Belgium with the SCAR-L, HS Produkt of Croatia with its VHS-2, Beretta of Italy with the ARX160A3, and Swiss Arms AG with the SG550 and 553. While four of the competitors are well known to our readers, technical data are summarised in

French AIF Competitors Length [mm] Length stock folded [mm]

Barrel length [mm] Rate of fire [rpm] Weight (w/o mag) [kg]


Beretta ARX160 / ARX160 855-920 / 755-820 680 580 406 700 3.1

/ / /

305 700 3.0

FN Herstal Scar-L / Scar-L CQC 840-903 / 724-788 655 / 540 368 / 254 550-650 / 550-650 3.5 / 3.3

Heckler & Koch HK416A5 / HK416A5 797-893 / 709-805 - / - 368 850 3.49

/ /

279 850 3.12

HS Produkt VHS-D2 / VHS-K2 800-850 / 710-760 / - 500 850 3.9

/ / /

410 830 3.75

Swiss Arms SG550 / SG553 998 / 733 722 / 503 528 / 227 700 / 700 4.1 / 3.2

EDR - March / April 2016

A version of the HK416 5.56 mm rifle, here in the short barrel version in the hands of an Italian Navy amphibious troops commando, is being proposed for the French AIF programme. (P. Valpolini)

the table, the fifth is probably less known, and is the only bullpup model among the AIF contenders. We are talking about the VHS-D2, a gas-operated short stroke piston weapon developed and produced in Croatia by HS Produkt, which is becoming the assault rifle of the Croatian Army following the order of a first batch of around 4,000 weapons, the requirement being for 20,000 rifles. Available in long and short barrel versions, compared with the VHS-1 the second version is fully ambidextrous, the soldier being able to reverse the extraction by simply changing the position of the bolt. The collapsible stock has five positions to ensure optimal ergonomy, polymer transparent magazines allowing to visually check remaining ammunition; an adapter allows the use STANAG 4179 magazines. The VHS-2 is equipped with a Picatinny rail to accept optical sights; HS Produkt offers a carrying handle with integral x1.5 red dot sight with auto-brightness mode that provides a 5.1° field of view and increases the weight by 400 grams. The five companies handed over the required rifles to the DGA in June 2015, and soon after technical and familiarisation tests started in cooperation with industrial teams. Once those concluded, technical and operational tests were carried out by French STAT (Section Technique de l’Armée de Terre) and by operational units EDR - March / April 2016

under STAT control. Feedback meetings with industry are carried out to allow companies to modify their products to make them fully compliant, in view of the Best and Final Offer that will then lead to the contract award by the DGA, which is expected by late 2016. Production will extend over 14 years, a 16,000 manufacturing yearly production capacity being required. In January 2016 the Czech Republic signed a contract with Cezka Zbrojovka for 2,600 CZ 806 Bren 2 rifles and 800 CZ 805 G1 underbarrel grenade launchers, the contract also including day and night sights and laser pointers/illuminators, for a total value of CZK 417 million (15.4 million Euro). The Bren 2 was unveiled in October 2015 and has a number of mechanical improvements compared with the CZ 805 Bren, a new telescopic stock, and improved ergonomy. The selector has now only three positions, safe, semi-auto and auto, dropping the two-rounds burst, and the weight was decreased by some 500 grams. Other nations worldwide are planning to replace their current individual weapons, one of them being Bolivia, which forces are currently using a mix of 7.62x39, 7.62x51 and 5.56x45 mm assault rifles which should be a logistic nightmare. Portugal is looking at replacing its 7.62x51 mm H&K G3 rifles, albeit numbers


The VHS-D2 by HS Produckt of Croatia is the only bullpup rifle currently fighting for the French Armes Individuelles Futures bid. (P. Valpolini)

should be reduced as the acquisition should apparently be limited only to rapid reaction units. A major market should be Russia; their Ministry of Defence is looking for a new assault rifle to replace the AK-74M, although this will remain definitely a Russian business. Other nations are also looking for new small arms, Pakistan being a possible one, a tender for 80 assault rifles with night vision equipment closed in early 2014 being possibly a precursor to a major order. As for ongoing contracts, one of the latest signed for assault rifles was announced at IDEX 2015, the United Arab Emirates Army having ordered to Caracal 80,000 CAR 816 5.56x45 mm assault rifles, for a total of over 190 million Euro. Although much smaller in numbers another contract was recently filed by Finland for its Special Forces, the selected weapon being the FN SCAR-L in 5.56x45 mm, about a quarter of the few hundred rifles being fitted with the FN40GL-L 40 mm single-shot grenade launcher. In August 2015 Australia announced the acquisition of 30,000 Thales Australia F90 bullpup rifles, dubbed EF88 by the services (Enhanced F88); two versions will be provided, respectively with 16-inch and 20inch barrels. The contract is worth AUD 100 million (nearly EUR 65 million) and also includes some 2,500 40 mm SL40 grenade launchers. Last year New Zealand selected a new assault rifle following the request for tender that closed on 12 November 2014. Eight companies answered the tender, Beretta New Zealand, Česká Zbrojovka, Colt Canada, FN Herstal, Steyr Man-


nlicher, Xtex Ltd representing Sig Sauer, Heckler & Koch and Lewis Machine & Tools. Trials were undertaken between early March and late May 2015, and in August the Acquisition Division announced that Lewis Machine & Tools (LMT) was selected as preferred bidder, the contract being officially announced on 8 December. Defined “Modular Assault Rifle System – Light” (MARS-L), the new individual weapon will be complemented by advanced optical day and night sights, an underbarrel detachable grenade launcher and other add-on equipment such as combat torches, laser sights, and sound suppressors. Some 8,800 rifles will be acquired, the number and type of add-on systems being still undisclosed. The MARS-L is based on LMT’s 5.56 mm CQB16 rifle, a gas impingement weapon with a 16-inch barrel and a SOPMOD buttstock. Images released by the New Zealand Army allowed us to see that the MARS-L is fitted with a WARCOMP-556-1/2-28 muzzle brake-flash hider, a Trijicon ACOG TA31 4x32 scope, an AN/PEQ-15 advanced target pointer illuminator aiming laser and an M203-2003 grenade launcher by LMT. The overall cost of the MARS-L acquisition is estimated at NZD 59 million (EUR 36.7 million), deliveries being expected in 2016-17. Back to 7.62 mm? In 2014 Turkey selected the MPT-76 (Milli Piyade Tüfeği for National Infantry Rifle) developed by MKEK, a gas-operated rotating bolt assault rifle with a 16-inch barrel that replaces the old H&K EDR - March / April 2016

Born as a Special Forces tool, FNH’s SCAR-L is still a winner in that market, the last contract being that with Finland, but is also proposed as assault rifle to “green armies”. (FNH)

G3 thus maintaining the same calibre, as the new rifle is also chambered for the 7.62x51 mm round. So Turkey never went for the smaller calibre. Following a first order filed in July 2015 with MKEK for 20,000 weapons worth TRY 80 million (around EUR 25 million), in December the Turkish MoD completed the initial production phase ordering further 15,014 rifles to Kalekalip, the second source supplier, signing a contract worth TRY 60 million (nearly EUR 19 million). The overall requirement of Turkey should exceed 200,000 weapons. Following the adoption of its 5.56 mm ARX160 by the Italian Army and numerous other international customers, Beretta developed a 7.62x51 mm rifle, the ARX200, which was unveiled without fanfare at DSEI 2015. In that calibre qualification tests with the Italian Army according to NATO AC 225/LCG1 rules started in January 2016. The ARX200 remains a multicalibre weapon, the 7.62x39 and 5.56x45 mm kits being awaited in the near future. However to ensure maximum accuracy a quick change system having been adopted in the form of a single bolt located under the handguard instead of the immediate change barrel system of the ARX160, the new weapon drawing many features from that weapon such as the magazine release and the hold open. The ARX200 maintains the gas-piston operation with locked breech and rotating bolt and features a 16-inch (406 mm) free-floatEDR - March / April 2016

ing cold hammer forged barrel. All commands are ambidextrous, the cocking handle being easily switched from one side to the other, the fire selector having safe-single shot-automatic positions, however the brass are always ejected on the right. The ARX200 is fitted with a polymer 20 rounds magazine, however an adaptor allows to use SR25 type magazines. The use of aluminium and techno-polymer maintained the weight under 4.5 kg without magazine. A foldable and telescopic stock with adjustable cheek rest and shock absorber back plate was adopted, length being thus adjustable between 890 and 1,000 mm, length with folded stock being 730 mm. Using the Fiocchi Perfecta 175 grains ammunition the ARX200 showed an accuracy under 1 MOA at 100 metres. In late January Beretta delivered 10 rifles to the Italian MoD for qualification; for the first time qualification will be run as a system rather than a simple weapon, as it will include the 6x40 Steiner Optics’ Intelligent Combat Sight (ICS). As well as the Perfecta 175 grains ammunition for which the ARX200 is optimised, the rifle being obviously being able to fire also the NATO Standard 147 grains ammo. The Italian requirement includes the capability to fire Fiocchi’s reduced range ammunition, which in the 7.62x51 mm version is currently being finalised; the gas regulator has three positions, the fully open one being used when firing


EDR - January / February 2016

Many nations are becoming self-sufficient in terms of small arms; the UAE ordered in 2015 80,000 Caracal CAR 816 5.56 mm assault rifles. (P. Valpolini)

RR ammo. Italy has ordered 432 ARX200 assault rifles; the plan is to have one such weapons in each combat team to increase the reach and reduce the time on target thanks to the ICS. The ARX200 has also bagged a first export order for a non-European paramilitary force. Beretta is already working on the Designated Marksman Rifle version, which will work only in single shot mode and a new dual stage trigger with a 2 kg pull, that of the standard version is single-stage with a 3 kg pull. A new heavier barrel will also be fitted, its length remaining quite probably the same, although tests will be carried out with longer barrels to verify potential accuracy improvements. The 7.62x51 mm calibre is definitely one of the choices for DMRs, the British Army having selected the LMT’s LM308 Modular Weapon System, a direct gas rotary bolt rifle, which is now known as L129A1 in British service, fitted with a

Trijicon 6x48. Beside Special Forces, which however might decide to go for innovative calibres, it is to expect that other armies might decide to go for the “old” NATO calibre, at least to increase flexibility within their units. The acquisition by the Bundeswehr of a batch of 600 HK417, named G27P by the Bundeswehr, was initially seen as an interim solution for filling the gap awaiting for a new rifle, but this has been denied by the German MoD, which stated that the new rifle will allow to optimise the weapon mix. Canadian sniper rifles The increasing importance of snipers in asymmetric scenarios has brought Canadian Cadex to develop a wholly new family of bolt action military rifles that where unveiled in successive stages in 2015-16. The “Lite” family is made of three member, the CDX-30 Guardian Lite, the CDX-300

Thales Australia won the bid for 30,000 assault rifles to equip national armed forces; its F90 is an evolution of the F88 already in service, based on the Steyr Mannlicher AUG model. (P. Valpolini)


EDR - March / April 2016

gas Shot Show, where Cadex unveiled its CDX40 Shadow rifle chambered for the 408 CheyTac ammunition. The CDX-40 is available with two barrels, 29- and 32-inch, and is fitted with a stainless steel 3-lugs bolt with a 60° throw. All Cadex rifles are finished with Ceracoat coating, their metrics being available in the table.

Easy to disassemble, the Beretta ARX200 follows the guidelines of the ARX160 but adopts solutions that increase accuracy. (P. Valpolini)

Freedom Lite and the CDX-33 Patriot Lite, respectively in .308 Win, .300 WinMag and .338 LM calibres, with standard Cadex-Bartlein fluted barrels of 24-, 26- and 27-inch length, the CDX-30 being also available with a 20-inch barrel and the CDX-300 with a 24-inch one. All barrels feature a threaded muzzle to allow a suppressor or a muzzle brake to be installed, the latter providing over 60 per cent recoil reduction. The three guns are based on its Strike chassis system which features a foldable stock, fitted with an offset cam that allows to remove any free play. CDX Lite guns are fitted with a stainless steel 3-lugs bolt with a 60° throw, while the customer can choose between a two-stage or a single-stage trigger. At Milipol 2015 Cadex unveiled its heavy calibre rifle, the CDX-50 Tremor, chambered for the 12.7x99 mm ammunition. The Tremor is based on the same chassis used by the Canadian military for its sniper rifle, and features an fourlugs bolt with a 50° throw and double extractor. The fluted barrel is 29-inch long and has the same features of those used on smaller calibre rifles, including muzzle brake and suppressor. The double stage trigger is protected by a trigger guard that allows shooting when wearing gloves. The top Picatinny rail is split in two elements, side and bottom rails allowing to install accessories. the Tremor was made available in late 2015. The last gap in the sniper rifles calibres was filled at the 2016 edition of the Las VeEDR - March / April 2016

US upgrades In mid-March 2015 the US Army Contracting Command-New Jersey issued a market survey document on behalf of Project Manager Individual Weapons, looking for potential sources capable to provide non-development items aimed at transforming current M4A1 into M4A1-Plus carbines. Full compatibility with the current version of the weapon is required, new components aiming at improving weapon system lethality, survivability, and operational effectiveness. All components should contribute to increased accuracy. A 12-inch extended forward MIL-STD-1913 compatible rail fixed at the 12 o’clock position is required, capable of retaining no more than 1 Minute of Angle zeroing with a 90 pre cent reliability; it will have sufficient removable mounting surfaces of varying lengths to allow selective, simultaneous mounting of accessories such as lasers, illuminators, slings, bipods, vertical grips/ grip-pods, etc. It will provide for a hand guard allowing for a free-floated barrel, and for a design/ redesign of the under-barrel weapon systems/ module interface to use the compatible rail surface on the hand guard as attachment points, instead of the barrel. The rail will also include a low profile gas block, compatible with current M4A1 heavy barrel and gas tube. Front and rear flipup adjustable back-up sights must be provided, their aperture allowing engagements without performance degradation. The improved flash suppressor is required to reduce firing signature to less than the current one, at day and night, without degrading performances. An improved charging handle is also part of the package, as well as an enhanced trigger module with a consistent pull weight between 1.8 and 2.3 kg, the Army intending to procure the trigger module separately from the other components. Overall


At the Shot Show 2016 Cadex of Canada unveiled the last member of its shiper rifle family, the Shadow, chambered for 408 Cheytach rounds. (Cadex)

the M4A1-Plus should weigh less than 3.63 kg without accessories. Latin America: a lively market The last months have seen quite an activity in Latin America in terms of production agreements, acquisitions and export attempts. One of the latest agreements is that between Unified Weapon System of the USA and FAME, the Peruvian Army Arsenal, in terms of co-production of two weapons, the Unified Combat Rifle and the Unified Patrol Rifle, respectively chambered for the 7.62x51 mm and the 5.56x45 mm round. Venezuela will also acquire a small arms production capacity, as the Kalashnikov Concern is building two facilities in the country, which should have become operational by 2009. Delays will not bring the first factory operational until late 2016 followed by the second one in 2017. They will first produce AK-103 and AK-104 assault rifles for Venezuela. Imbel of Brazil is providing its IA2 assault rifle to the Brazilian forces as a replacement for the old FN FAL, but following the marketing of the IA2 in Latin America is now seek-

ing new markets, mostly in the Middle East and Africa. Mexico recently ordered from the Dirección General de Industria Militar 120,000 FX-05 that will replace the H&K G3 currently in use; the new rifle, dubbed Xiuhcóatl, fire snake, is a gas operated weapon firing 5.56x45 ammunition and is available in four models, assault rifle, carbine, , sharpshooter and light machine gun.

A close-up of the Cadex Tremor muzzle brake; the company claims that this accessori allows to reduce by 60% recoil forces. (P. Valpolini)

CADEX sniper rifles CDX-30 Guardian Lite

CDX-300 Freedom Lite

CDX-33 Patriot Lite

CDX-40 Shadow

(24” barrel)

(26” barrel)

(27” barrel)

(29” barrel)


.308 Win

.300 WinMag

.338 LM

408 CT


Length [mm]






Length stock folded





Barrel length [[mm]






Magazine [rds]






Weight [kg]







CDX-50 Tremor

All dimensions and weights without muzzle brake


EDR - March / April 2016

Classification of the Fairs and Exhibitions in the Defense and Security fields for 2015 Compiled by The European Security and Defence Press Association


airs and Exhibitions in the Defense and Security fields are no stranger to the global economic crisis and budget shortages that affect the industry. Whereas the industry has counted on international events to leverage their communication tools and develop new businesses in the past, the constant development of Defense and Security exhibitions makes it impossible for companies to tell the difference. They usually make a choice based on two types of events: The sector-specific exhibitions (only concerning certain types of product classification – this is particularly attractive for SME’s); and the major international shows, like Eurosatory, IDEX, or DSEI, because of their international visibility, quality of service and delegations. Analyzing the attendance in an exhibition also tells much about the reality of the market. Actors like Turkey, the UAE and some countries from the Asian continent reveal that the market has changed, and is now dominated by countries with lighter regulations. This allows them to sell and produce easily and conquer markets with better prices than the once dominating European countries in the field. This reality has a direct result on the exhibitions “market” that needs to adapt to the new financial reality of companies, and propose more innovative and fitted services at every edition to survive tough competition. The most important outcome for a successful exhibition is a foreseeable return on investment for Exhibitors. Below is our brief review of some of the exhibitions we visited in 2015. Our opinion is based on the overall impression we had on matters of quality, attendance, and the presence of local and international media to cover them.

Le Bourget Air Show – Paris (France)

15-21 June 2015

edition, even if we noted a certain decrease in the global number of exhibitors and official delegations compared to the last edition. The organization was satisfactory, but national pavilions

The world’s leading air show that is still up to its prime rep-

were smaller than in previous editions. The press lacked of in-

utation. This edition has confirmed that exhibitors on the Paris

ternational coverage and the total cost of participation remains

Air show come mostly from the civil sectors, even though live

quite high.

demonstrations are mainly military. Many international delegations and visitors were present at the exhibition during the whole week.

AUSA Washington, DC (USA)

12-14 October 2015

Two difficulties remain: the difficult accessibility of the venue that makes it almost unreachable, either by public transporta-

This exhibition is dedicated to the US Land Forces. Despite

tion or by car, and the complications of having a logistic attend-

the limited presence of international companies, international

ance when required.

delegations did visit the exhibition. The press was notably pres-

Aero India - Bangalore (INDIA)

ent. Every attending could benefit from the decent organization of the Exhibition and easy access within the venue.

18-22 Feb 2015

The price of the exhibition is fair given the quality of the organization.

One of the key Exhibitions in the region for Aeronautics. Al-

LAAD – Rio De Janeiro (Brazil)

though the general organization and services are in progress

(registration process, badge edition) and benefit from a satis-

14-17 April 2015

factory price-quality ratio, the number of Exhibitors and visitors have slightly decreased, including the international press. The main attending delegations were mostly regional.

DSEI –London (UK)

15-18 September 2015

One of the most important exhibitions in the region, dedicated to Land forces (Defense and Security) with an important participation of international exhibitors. Most delegations were from the Latin American region, and notably, from African countries. However, the exhibition suffers from a limited evolution of

This exhibition promotes itself as a tri-service event, but de-

Exhibitor numbers, mainly because Brazil is a difficult country to

spite a few exhibited vessels, remains mainly Land oriented.

make business in, and has recently suffered from an economic

Many international companies were represented during the last

recession and corruption scandals. The Media Center was well

EDR - March / April 2016


Classification of the Fairs and Exhibitions in the Defense and Security fields for 2015 Compiled by The European Security and Defence Press Association

organized with many local press representatives and a limited

IMDEX– (Singapore)

number of international Medias. The organization is in progress,

19-21 May, 2015

but still suffers from the difficult accessibility of the venue.

Maks – Moscow (Russia)

25-30 August 2015

IMDEX is a Marine specialized exhibition, with an average international exhibitor coverage from companies and very limited evolutions. An important presence of delegations has however been reported and the exhibition was very well organized.

Theoretically, a Russian “international” air show. However,

Notable efforts were put in place to facilitate the work of

the exhibitors were mainly Russian, with a remarkable presence

journalists, including a press center, a guided visit of exhibited

of companies from the former USSR bloc, reselling old or reno-


vated Russian products. This could be due to the difficult political context and western sanctions against Russia, which makes it difficult for international companies to develop business. The organization was a little better this year. The international press was very well welcomed. This Exhibition has a big

The exhibition fees rates are a little over the average given the size and evolution of the Exhibition.

IDEX - Abu Dhabi (UAE)

22-26 Feb 2015

potential to evolve in the coming years provided the political The only international level Exhibition dedicated to Land,

context allows it.

Milipol – Paris -(France)

17-20 November 2015

Marine (Navdex) and unmanned systems (UMEX) in the Middle East. With Exhibitors, visitors and delegations attending from all over the world, the Exhibition has definitely become the number 1 exhibition in the region and one of the most important in

Despite the tragic terrorist attacks that occurred in Paris last

the world.

November and the few cancelations that followed, this key

However, and despite its international pressroom, interna-

security event has succeeded in conserving its overall quality.

tional journalists were less mobilized than expected for this last

Many international exhibitors and delegations still managed to


attend the exhibition. The press center was convenient, but it lacked of journalists. The organization was globally worthy, and its services, quality and prices were reasonable.

Expodefensa –Bogota (Colombia)

In addition, the global organization level of the exhibition was not as optimal as expected this year given its excessive participation price.

Dubai Air Show Dubai (UAE)

8-12 November, 2015

30 November-2 December 2015 The only air show in the Middle East for military and civil This young Latin American exhibition was for the first time

sectors. International companies have decreased over the past

co-organized by COGES, the organizer of Eurosatory, the world’s

few editions, including because of its new location (45 to 1 hour

leading Land and Air-land defense and security event. This spec-

drive). Delegations were mostly regional and Asian. Internation-

ificity gave the exhibition a real international visibility, with an im-

al press was limited but the local press was present and bene-

portant number of international exhibitors attending. Regional

fited from a very acceptable press center. The general organi-

and international delegations also followed the flow. Local and

zation was average, especially for logistic aspects (badges were

regional press was present, but it lacked of international cover-

only made available on the day of the opening, which caused a

age. The quality of organization and services of the exhibition

lot of traffic at the entrance.) The participation rates are a bit too

gives it a high potential of evolution in the coming years.

high given the global result.


EDR - March / April 2016

Night firing of an 81 mm F2 mortar; in Afghanistan mortars were used extensively for firing illumination grenades. (Australian Army)

Light and Medium Mortars: the infantryman artillery

Paolo Valpolini

Recent armed confrontations, not always open conflicts, have led to a renewed interest for light mortars, as automatic grenade launchers proved very effective in some situations but unable to fully replace 60 mm mortar fire in terms of range, lethality and capacity to hit targets behind cover.


s for 81 mm mortars, these allow extended range indirect fire support at limited weight penalty. Newly developed ammunition, with better sealing between ammo and barrel, properly manufactured stabilisation fins, and improved pre-fragmentation warheads provide higher lethality with increased accuracy and lower dispersion. Finally, fire control systems and even automated-laying platforms further decrease the time required to lay fire on the target from the instant the fire command is received, but these will be the subject of a future article. In Europe Spain is a major mortar provider. Expal is pretty active in the light and medium mortar field, and in Q1/2015 deliveries began of 299 long range 81 mm mortars to Italy; most of them being aimed at Army infantry regiments, which should deploy three of them in each support platoon at rifle company level, as well as to EDR - March / April 2016

the Navy 1st “San Marco” amphibious regiment. It is noted that Expal has recently changed the branding of its mortars (see table). All these models can be supplied in different configurations according to customers’ requirements. A two-letter suffix indicates bipod and breech type: the first letter indicates the bipod type, “S” for symmetric and “K” for asymmetric, the second indicating the breech, “A” for automatic and “M” for manual. Thus the mortar provided to Italy is the 81-MX2-KM. When the Spanish company Esperanza y Cia (Ecia) closed in 1990, its manufacturing capabilities based in Marquina, in the Basque Province, were acquired by some of the management and started producing components for numerous primary defence companies in Europe. Among its products Ecia featured mortars of various calibres. Together with Tecnesis 3000, a Madrid-based engineering and commercial com-


The United States military employ the M252 81 mm mortar, a derivative of the British L16. ARDEC is currently equipping the mortar with a new sight known as WULF for Weaponized Universal Lightweight Fire-control. (ARDEC)

pany, improved versions of the Ecia mortars are currently being marketed under the Egutec brand. This includes a Commando 60 mm mortar, and bipod-equipped 60 and 81 mm mortars, with standard and long range versions in both calibres, technical data being available in the table. A key feature of the new products is the adoption of a firing system that provides a safe mode, locking the firing pin inside the breech, a drop mode, blocking it outside the breech, and a manual mode, the firing pin being released by an external lever. All Egutec mortars feature steel base-plates, the company stating that using othDescription

60 mm


60 mm


er materiel, such as aluminium, would not lower their weight if mechanical quality has to be kept at the same level. A blast deflector installed on the muzzle allows a controlled release of gas, thus reducing the noise by 10-15 dB. Egutec is also capable of producing 120 mm mortars, although these are not part of the current article. The company has signed an agreement with Rheinmetall, the German company including Egutec systems in its offers when providing key-in-hand mortar solutions to customers. Egutec however, is promoting its own mortars on the market, and is cooperating with numerous companies in the

60 mm


+vehicle firing kit

60 mm

81 mm



+ handle

81 mm


Name 60-CX1-M 60-CX1-M+kit 60-MX2-KM 60-MX2-KM-C 81-MX2-KM 81-MX1-KM Mx1- [mm] 60 60 60 60 81 81 Barrel length [mm] 650 650 1000 1000 1450 1150 Maximum 1,97 1,97 4,90 4,90 6,90 6,20 range [km]

Deflection 360°


11.25° 11.25°

9° 9°

(360° without bipod & handle)

Elevation 85° 85° 85° 85° 85° 85° range max.

Elevation 45° 45° 45° 45° 45° 45° range min.

Total weapon

6,5 kg

8,0 kg

20,0 kg

mass (approx.) [kg]

20,0 kg (14,9

without bipod & handle)

51,2 kg

48,5 kg

Cannon assembly 4,7 kg 6,2 kg 7,5 kg 7,5 kg 20 kg 17,6 kg mass [kg] Base plate - - 4,5 kg 4,5 kg 16,7 kg 16,4 kg mass [kg] Bipod mass [kg] - - 6,9 6,9 13,2 13,2 Blast deflector - - 0,9 0,9 1,3 1,3 mass [kg] Handle mass [kg] 1,8 1,8 - 1,8 - Maximum rate 30 30 30 30 20 20 (rds/min)

Weapon max 34 34 73 73 83 83 pressure [MPa]


EDR - March / April 2016

Norwegian soldiers ready to fire an 81 mm mortar; not all the armies maintain in service this medium mortar calibre. (Danish Army)

fire control systems domain to complete its offer. According to available information the 60 mm family started internal qualifications in mid 2014, while the 81 mm development is being finalised, and the two weapons should have started the qualification process around mid-2015. However Egutec did not provided updated information before going to press.

As mentioned earlier, Rheinmetall is involved in the mortar field and is looking with increased interest to this market, its aim being to propose all-in-one solutions made of NATO-compliant equipment, modularity and weight consciousness being among the key parameters considered. Rheinmetall estimates the European market of around 200-300 mortars, and has teamed with partners, mostly for weapons, to be able to cover the entire offer. As noted above, the German group has teamed with Egutec of Spain for the tubes. The company has developed a wholly new family of mortar ammunition, the 60 mm one being slightly more advanced in terms of development than the 81 mm one. Cargo ammunition, which includes visible and infrared illumination rounds and red phosphorus smoke smoke/obscurant multi-spectral rounds, are produced in Germany, while insensitive high explosive (IHE), IHE-pre-formed-fragments (IHE-PFF) and high explosive (HE) come from Rheinmetall Denel Munition of South Africa. It is to note that within those families all high explosive rounds match

Egutec Mortars Technical Data 60 mm Commando

60 mm Standard

60 mm Long Range

81 mm Standard

81 mm Long Range


60 mm

60 mm

60 mm

81 mm

81 mm

Barrel length

650 mm

650 mm

1,000 mm

1,150 mm

1,450 mm

3.8 km

4.5 km

5.9 km

6.5 km

Maximum range

> 2.2 km (Charge 3)

Elevation range (drop)






Elevation range (trigger)






Total weapon mass

5.6 kg

18.1 kg

19.8 kg

39.9 kg

41.6 kg

Cannon assembly mass


5.8 kg

7.5 kg

12.8 kg

14.5 kg

Base plate mass


4.6 kg

4.6 kg

13.2 kg

13.2 kg

Bipod mass


6.8 kg

6.8 kg

12.6 kg

12.6 kg

Blast deflector mass


0.9 kg

0.9 kg

1.3 kg

1.3 kg

Maximum rate

25-35 rpm

20-35 rpm

20-35 rpm

20-25 rpm

20-25 rpm

Sustained rate

15-20 rpm

15-20 rpm

15-20 rpm

8-10 rpm

8-10 rpm

Weapon PMP

50 MPa

81 MPa

81 MPa

95 MPa

95 MPa

EDR - March / April 2016


the same ballistic tables, thus a mortar team can hit the same target switching from one type to the other without corrections; HE, IHE and IHEPFF rounds can all be equipped wither with point detonation or proximity fuses. The pre-fragmentation solution allows a 60 mm IHE-PFF round to cover a lethal area equivalent to that of an 81 mm standard round. The qualification process for the 60 mm family is ongoing, insensitive munitions testing being completed, while 81 mm rounds have been qualified and are currently in production. Compared to previous Rheinmetall illuminating rounds, new ones have a simpler configuration and feature a much lower sinking rate, between 3.5 and 5 m/s compared to the 6.8 m/s of the previous modes. Mo reover their burning time is slightly longer while the candle power is also increased, which allows variation of the height of burst. Rheinmetall is also proposing a series of under-calibre training items as well as optronic target acquisition systems. Looking at the future the company is studying alternative mortar manufacturing technologies, on which it does not want to elaborate; it is also considering mortar-launched rockets, to which guided fuses should be added in order to keep the CEP within the 5-10 metres which are required in current missions. Remaining in the mortar ammunition world, Saab Bofors Dynamics Switzerland (SBDS) took over in 2007 the business of Ruag Warheads,

The L16A2 81 mm mortar in use by the British Army has recently undergone a mid life upgrade (which includes a GPS Receiver and a laser rangefinder. (British Army)


A Canadian soldier ready to fire an L16 81 mm mortar; this weapon system was co-developed by the UK and Canada in the ‘60s and is still in service. (Canadian Army)

which developed numerous technologies and products, among which MAPAM (Mortar Anti Personnel Anti Material) rounds. The MAPAM technology consists of a shell body containing a matrix filled with 2,500 steel balls, which thus have the same speed and which pattern is concentrated in height, thus allowing to increase lethality while decreasing unintentional damages. The outer case is estimated to add 1,000 further fragments to the balls. The 60 mm round, which at the time of the takeover was already fully qualified, has remained identical and weighs 1,545 grams without fuse, length without fuse being 304 mm. Filled with 254 grams of Composite B or PBXN-110 insensitive explosive, it has a minimum range of 100 metres, while with charge 4 it can reach up to 3,500 metres. The MAPAM 60 has a lethal radius of 20 metres and a danger zone of 100 metres radius, a 370 metres absolute safety radius being declared. SBDS declares a lethality factor of 2.5:1 compared to standard 60 mm rounds. The MAPAM 60 is currently in use in Malaysia, Denmark, Belgium and Spain. In 2005 RUAG showed the prototype of the 81 mm MAPAM mortar round; this was never qualified by the company, thus SBDS scientists and technicians further developed the round, which now has upper and a lower fragmentation bodies, with fragments of different dimensions. The round contains overall around double EDR - March / April 2016

Danish soldiers ready to fire their Expal 81 mm mortar; they use a Saab Dynamics MAPAM mortar round which considerably increases terminal effects. (Saab Dynamics)

the number of balls compared to a 60 mm one, 4,500 versus 2,500, the outrĂŠ case adding 2,000 fragments; although no data are provided by the company, it might well be that the upper body, which is closer to the impact, is that with the bigger balls, to increase penetration against lightly protected targets, while the lower part, which is at the rear when the round impacts, is filled with the same balls of the 60 mm round, mostly aimed at incapacitating unprotected targets. The 81 mm round weighs 3,805 grams without fuse, 610 grams being explosive, is 460 mm long without fuse, and was fully qualified in 2013, a first order being obtained from Spain. Its lethal zone radius is 27.5 metres, the danger zone radius is 65 metres, the absolute safety zone starting at 450 metres, its lethal effectiveness factor comparing it to a standard 81 mm round is 2:1. SBDS worked at a special solution for the United States, which was developed in conjunction with US Governmental entities and on which the company does not elaborate; contracts were obtained through the NATO Support and Procurement Agency. The Thun based company also provided General Dynamics Ordnance and tactical Systems Canada, which portfolio includes 60 mm and 81 mm mortar rounds, with its technology, thus giving birth to “MAPAM-insideâ€? rounds. Under the push of an undisclosed customer, which is understood to be a Special Forces unit, SBDS developed an extended range version of its 60 mm round, the MAPAM 60 ER, which adds one kilometre to the range of the standard round. This is done by adding a longer tail, while keeping the same body, the longer rear element allowing not only to add two more charges for reaching further but also to increase in-flight EDR - March / April 2016

stability, the round length becoming 328.5 mm while weight increase is marginal, only 21 grams. While the standard round accuracy is estimated at 2 per cent of the range in distance and 1 per cent of the range in side deflection, the ER round adds 0.2 to those figures at the maximum range. SBDS has also developed an 81 mm training round for an undisclosed customer, which maintains the MAPAM ballistic behaviour while showing a small smoke puff when hitting the ground. The company is currently developing smoke and illumination rounds. It is also working on a guided solution, albeit no hints were provided on which calibre might be chosen for this development. The 120 mm calibre will cer-

Saab Dynamics Mortar In-Door Trainer (M-IDT) allows effective training of 81 mm mortar crews before deploying on the field for live fire training. (P. Valpolini)


The Hirtenberger M8 81 mm mortar in action; updated recently with the adoption of a new bipod, it is available with a standard and a long barrel. (Hirtenberger)

tainly be one choice, however the increased importance of the 81 mm in many armies might well lead the responsible of the Thun company to develop a guided mid-calibre round. SBDS does not limit its involvement in the mortar field to ammunition. To cope with the problem of extracting rounds from the 81 mm barrel when charges fail to activate, it has developed a specific tool based on vacuum that allows the mortar crew to safely extract the round and dispose it. This tool was developed under the need for a solution when mortars are mounted on a vehicle. Together with Huskvarna-based Saab Training and Simulation the company has also developed the prototype of an indoor training system; the M-IDT, for Mortar In-door Trainer; this consists of a mortar replica which includes all the mortar elements. Simulation ammunition is dropped and is collected by a carousel hosting up to five rounds, the bottom of the barrel being open; this allows rapid fire action. A replica of the sight unit equipped with a builtin video display and sensors allows full aiming training. The ammunition ballistic trajectory is simulated depending on the charges and the effect of the various types of ammunition is taken into consideration, the Instructor Operating Station allowing to see the effects and providing forward observers simulation. The simulator is also available in 81 and 120 mm calibre depending on customer needs.


Another major European mortar manufacturer is Hirtenberger Defence systems of Austria, the company proposing on the market the whole range of weapons. Its M6C-640T commando mortar has recently been upgraded to the M6C-640 Mk1. The new integrated aiming device that replaces the old pendulum system enables the operator to set the elevation of the mortar according to a range scale in metres without additional calculation. The scale includes all Hirtenberger types of ammo, HE-type bombs (charge 0, 1, 2, and 3), ILL-type bombs (charge 1, 2, and 3), and also features an elevation scale in MILS. Using the new HE and Smoke 60mm Commando ammunition the M6C-640 Mk1 can reach a maximum range of 2.360 metres. The sight is watertight and is powered by a single AA battery that operates the LED illumination system used for night firing, and can be retrofitted to old M6C-640Ts in service; Greece already adopted that solution while Italy might follow soon. The British Army acquired the Hirtenberger Commando as an Urgent Operational Requirement for Afghanistan, but since it has reverted on the 81 mm calibre. The mortar is in use also in Japan, France, the Netherlands and a number of undisclosed countries. The Commando mortar is the only one firing in manual mode, all other Hirtenberger mortars firing only in drop mode. The bipod 60 mm morEDR - March / April 2016

Hirtenberger offers his M6 60 mm mortar which maintains the same barrel of the Commando version but has a different breech and can use a more powerful charge, which increases its range. (Hirtenberger)

tar, known as M6, is available with three-barrel lengths. Four different pre-set positions allow elevation pre-adjustment, the bipod having been redesigned in 2007 and fitted with enlarged shock absorbers, while the elevating gear has been optimised. The most recent commercial success for the M6 was the contract for Lithuania, the mortar being in service in numerous countries, Czech Republic and Chile among others. A peculiarity of the Hirtenberger light mortar is that it can be quickly converted into a commando mortar thanks to a kit. The barrel is screwed on the trigger system, and the hand guard and carrying

strap are fitted to the tube, the whole conversion taking about two minutes. Due to handling reasons it fires only up to charge 3. Coming to the medium mortar, the 81 mm M8 was designed according to Austrian Army requirements and is available with two-barrel lengths. Its bipod was redesigned in 2010 following the path of the 60 mm one, the M8 adopting a dropforged base plate with reinforcing ribs made of high-strength aluminium alloy. The main customer for this mortar remains Austria, although some export contracts were , also bagged. 

Hirtenberger Mortars technical Data M6C – 640 Mk1 M6 – 640

M6 – 895

M6 – 1000

M8R – 1165

M8R – 1365



Barrel length

Maximum range

60 mm

60 mm

60 mm

60 mm

81 mm

81 mm

640 mm

640 mm

895 mm

1,000 mm

1,165 mm

1,365 mm

2.36 km

2.9 km

3.6 km

3.9 km

5.9 km

6.7 km

Elevation range

45°- 80°

45°- 80°

45°- 80°

45°- 80°

45°- 80°

Total weapon mass


6.4 kg

22.1 kg

23.0 kg

23.5 kg

38.6 kg

40.2 kg

Cannon assembly

4.6 kg

5.5 kg

6.0 kg

13.3 kg

14.9 kg

Base plate mass

4.8 kg

4.8 kg

4.8 kg

12.5 kg

12.5 kg


Bipod mass

12.7 kg

12.7 kg

12.7 kg

12.8 kg

12.8 kg

Maximum rate

30 rpm

30 rpm

30 rpm

30 rpm

30 rpm

30 rpm

Weapon PMP

30 MPa

55 MPa

60 MPa

60 MPa

90 MPa

100 MPa

EDR - March / April 2016


The CAE 3000 Series S-92 simulator installed at the Brunei Multi-Purpose Training Centre. (David Oliver)

David Oliver

CAE Brunei Simulation Training Centre opens CAE Brunei Multi-Purpose Training Centre (MPTC) is a US$102 million joint venture between the Brunei Ministry of Finance and CAE with the parties owning 60 percent and 40 percent, respectively. The project took six years of preparation before to the Brunei Economic Development Board (BEDB) designed and owns the facility that employs 35 people, and leases it to CAE for 25 years.


he integrated, multi-purpose training facility was opened and started training in September 2014 providing comprehensive training programmes for Sikorsky S-92 helicopter training for customers from Brunei, Australia, China and Thailand, Pilatus PC-7 trainer aircraft for the Royal Brunei Armed Forces (RBAF), and from October 2016, Sikorsky S-70i Black Hawk support helicopters for the RBAF. The MPTC is also currently developing a comprehensive Emergency Management Centre of Excellence for training the National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC) for Brunei and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The MPTC is providing high-technology job creation for graduates and retired military personnel, and knowledge transfer that builds local


skill levels as well as developing local small-medium enterprise (SME) partners. The Brunei Centre of Excellence will be used by ASEAN, Asia, and Middle East Nations to enhance safety in mission-critical environments such as aviation, defence, emergency management, and healthcare The Brunei S-92 Simulator was certified by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) in May 2014, the Brunei DCA in August 2014, by Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) of Australia in October 2014 and by Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAC) in December 2014. The CAE 3000 Series helicopter simulator housed in a 4-metre dome, representing the Sikorsky S-92 helicopter, a multi-mission helicopter used extensively by offshore oil and gas operators and for search and rescue missions. Capable of supporting interchangeable cockpits EDR - March / April 2016

The high definition visuals of the Sikorsky S-92 flight simulator at the Brunei MPTC. (David Oliver)

– Roll-On/Roll-Off (RO/RO), the low-friction system facilitates cockpit exchange that can be switched in less than four hours. In the first year of operation, it operated for some 1,000 hours of mostly dry training with the customer’s own instructors. The Royal Thai Air Force, which operates three VVIP S-92A helicopters, is the first military customer for the Brunei MPTC while CAE is in discussions with the South Korea Air Force that operated a similar number of VVIP helicopters, and the South Korean Coast Guard that uses the S-92A for SAR mission.

The PC-7 Flight Training Device (FTD) is a high fidelity simulator which adds a new capability to the Royal Brunei Armed Forces pilot training system. The FTD is used for Pilot Flight Screening, initial and advanced pilot training, Qualified Flight Instructor (QFI) training and pilot currency. The PC-7 FTD passed MINDEF acceptance in May 2014 and was operational in November 2014. In addition to currency and advanced pilot training, one of the PC-7 simulator’s main benefits has been its ability to allow the training staff to screen potential pilots recommended by the RBAF for their aptitude towards flying before they begin the first stages of ab-initio training. Captain Phillip Hird, a Royal Air Force pilot on loan to the RBAF is a former Short Tucano instructor and ex-VC10 transport pilot in the UK, said that within the first two weeks in the simulator those who will not be suitable for further flying duties stand out. “They complete four types of exercise to test for aptitude. Before pilots progressed through to their first solo flight before they were finally assessed. This method reduces wastage in time and cost,” said Hird. They were all officer cadets and in the

The CAE 3000 Series S-92 simulator installed at the Brunei Multi-Purpose Training Centre. (David Oliver)

EDR - March / April 2016


The Sultan of Brunei accepts a new Sikorsky S-60i Black Hawk for the Royal Brunei Air Force. (Sikorsky)

first year, six of eight officer cadets were recommended for further training, two of them in the United States for training on the Black Hawk. For those selected to train with the RBAF’s No 3 Squadron on the RBAF’s four PC-7 Mk II operated by No 3 Sqn of the Training Wing, they will spend 60 hours in the FTD and 42 hours flying the aircraft. Prior to the opening of the MPTC, student pilots spent 70 hours in the simulator and 85 hours on the aircraft. The Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Malaysian Air Force, which operates a large fleet of PC-7 Mk II trainers, has recently visited the centre. Student pilots selected to fly helicopters graduate to the Training Wing’s Bell 206 JetRanger for advanced rotary-wing training while those selected to fly the RBAF’s CN-235 twin-engine transports undergo fixed-wing multi-engine training at Tamworth, Australia. The CAE 3000 Series simulator certified to EASA Level D standard, is a six degree-of-freedom (DOF), full motion 3-DOF vibration system will represent the Sikorsky S-70i Black Hawk multi-role utility helicopter, 12 of which have been delivered to the RBAF’s No 1 Sqn. A team of RBAF pilots is currently preparing the coursework for the S-70i simulator training syllabus for an annual intake of between 25 -30 students which will come on stream in October. CAE is also currently developing simulation-based courses to provide training for emer-


gencies/disasters. CAE Brunei MPTC will be used by Brunei National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC) to train and prepare for range of local and regional emergencies and disasters in addition to emergency medical training that will be offered to other ASEAN partner countries. Some 30 NDMC staff will design simulated exercises and some 36 emergency management courses ranging from 3 hours to 3 days in 2016 that will include disaster preparedness and media awareness and co-ordination. The centre will be used by participants of the ASEAN Regional Disaster Emergency Response Simulation Exercise (ARDEX) 2016 in November which is intended for ASEAN Member States to practice, evaluate and review the ASEAN Standby Arrangements and Standard Operating Procedures (SASOP) in facilitating an effective collaboration amongst Member States and relevant United Nations and other international organisations in responding to major disasters in the Region. While China is not an ASEAN member, the nation is a stakeholder in the region due to bi-lateral relationships with ASEAN Member States, the People’s Republic of China is a major “first responder” to Southeast Asia regional disaster relief events by convenience of geography, and it is anticipated that will be a future NDMC customer. According to CAE future developments of the MPTC could include naval and ship bridge , simulation training.  EDR - March / April 2016







Identify your company as a key player

The Simmel Difesa Colleferro plant has a considerable spare production capability and can be used by Nexter ABG when surges in production are needed. (Simmel Difesa)

Paolo Valpolini

Nexter Ammunition: an inside view Following the acquisition of Mecar of Belgium and Simmel Difesa of Italy in Spring 2014, Nexter has established their, Ammunition Business Group (ABG). Led by Jean-Patrick Baillet, ABG Chairman and Deputy Managing Director of the Nexter Group, the steering committee includes the three managing directors of its subsidiaries, Nexter Munitions and the aforementioned Belgian and Italian companies, and four directors: marketing and sales, finance, strategy and purchasing operations.t


he board meets once a month and discuss policy, aimed at improving ABG performances, with the chairman. “Each entity maintains its characteristics”, Jean-Patrick Baillet tells EDR, “Nexter Munitions being definitely the champion in terms of automated production thanks to heavy investments in robotisation, while the two other entities have a greater flexibility and their agility in the R&D process allows to improve the time on market”. Exploiting the best practice concept the ABG management intends to exploit the paticular strengths of the three subsidiaries in order to fill each others gaps and better answer customer needs. The integration of the portfolio is well shown by the new catalogue, where ammunition is listed by capacity and not by production entities, Nexter ABG is able to provide customers with nearly all types of ammunition from 20 mm up to 155


mm calibre, for land, naval and air purposes. It is noteworthy that very few redundancies were found, while on the commercial chain, which is made of some 20 people from the three subsidiaries, the aim is to optimise the process exploiting the right market case by case. Nexter ABG is focusing on integrated development capabilities, that go from the formulation of the requirement to the design and development, qualification, industrialisation, production support and dismission, thus ensuring through-life services. The average R&D investment of Nexter’s ABG is around 6-7 per cent of the turnover, which is estimated at around E 430 million for 2015 (+17 per cent compared with 2014 pro-forma turnover). The business plan focuses on a five-year period. To show its new capabilities in the ammunition field Nexter organised a tour of its facilities. Starting from with Simmel Difesa at Colleferro, EDR - March / April 2016

Among the three companies that form Nexter ABG, Nexter Munitions is the one better equipped for large scale productions. (Nexter Munitions)

the visit continued at Nexter Munitions at La Chapelle St-Ursin, then moved to Mecar at Nivelles, and ended with a day of actual firing at the Alcochete firing range in Portugal. Originally established in 1912, in late 2000 Simmel Difesa experienced the characteristic seesaw pattern of the ammunition industry, and the acquisition by the Nexter Group provided a new decisive impulse for the company. New investment has allowed improved productivity and a number of new programmes that were moving forward at a slow pace are now coming to fruition, adding new state-of-the-art products to the company and the group portfolio. For Nexter the acquisition of Simmel Difesa had some clear elements of interest, such as the company high production and storage capacity and its very good market position in the naval business. A further element, not considered initially, is Simmel’s demilitarisation plant, which allows added dismission capacity to the Group’s integrated development capability. The best sellers are definitely naval rounds in 40, 76 and 127 mm calibres. A number of new

rounds are under development and will soon become available. Starting from the smallest calibre, thanks to its capabilities in the fuse design and production, Simmel Difesa is proposing a multi-functional fuse for 40 mm rounds used in 40L70 guns. To allow the gunner to choose the most effective operating mode, depending on the target, the Simmel Difesa fuse uses a wireless and contactless RF programming system. Beside the point detonating mode and the time gated mode, the new fuse can be programmed in the typical proximity mode or in the gated proximity mode, for example becoming active only after a programmed distance detonating close to the enemy target while avoiding detonation while passing near a friendly target. It is also designed to ensure high resistance against ECM and ground/ sea clutter. The new fuse adds lethality to the company PFF-C round (pre-formed fragmented cube) containing tungsten cubes of undisclosed dimensions. Tested in Oto Melara guns, Simmel Difesa is in discussions with Far East companies to integrate Simmel’s programming system into other 40 mm weapon systems. Moving to a larger calibre, the 76L62 ammunition range is getting new elements, in the form of IM (insensitive explosive), LOVA (low vulnerability) propellant, and low environmental impact. In its IM form the high explosive, preformed fragmented round - one of the company best-sellers - reached industrial qualification in late 2015 and the company plans to reach qualification with the Italian Navy by mid-2016. In the IM version the round, which contains over 1.55

Naval ammunition, such as those 40mm for 40L70 guns, are the main business at Simmel Difesa, new types of rounds being currently under qualification. (Simmel Difesa) EDR - March / April 2016


At the Nexter Munitions plant isostatic pressing is carried out exploiting the breech of a large calibre gun from an old French Navy battleship. (Nexter Munitions)

kg of tungsten cube, is filled with around 750 grams of a company-developed IM explosive, known as ECF-1, which ensures equal or best performances compared to other compositions. It is to note that all the 76L62 IM ammunition family exceeded STANAG 4439 IM objectives especially in the sympathetic reaction and the bullet attack tests. Fitted with the company dual-fuse mode, it can be employed for air defence, using the proximity or super-quick modes, with self-destruction, as well as in the shore bombardment mode, using the ground proximity function. The 76L62 HE PFF is compatible with all 76/62 mm guns, from the MK75 to the new Super Rapido. Keeping with the same calibre, Simmel Difesa has also increased the performances of its HE-SAP (High Explosive-Semi Armour Piercing), enhancing effectiveness at high angles of impact thanks to an anti-ricochet system, and adopting a blast enhanced explosive filling. The IM, low vulnerability, low environmental impact technology is also being extended to the 127 family of ammunition, Simmel Difesa is planning to start testing of the 127 mm HE PFF IM round in 2016 in order to have it on the market the following year. In the land domain the Colleferro company recently developed a new 40x46 mm low velocity high- explosive dual purpose IM round with self-destruction. It penetrates over 70 mm


RHA and has a lethal radius in excess of 10 metres, and the distribution of pressure in the firing phase allows an increased barrel life of the gun. Now in the final qualification phase by the Italian Army, it has been also tested by the UK MoD. The latter has been a strong customer for the company 81 mm illuminating mortar round, Simmel Difesa is now completing its 81 and 120 mm mortar bomb range with the HE version of the 81 and 120 mm rounds. As already noted, Simmel Difesa owns a demilitarisation facility at Anagni, less than 20 km east of Colleferro. The plant is able to process a large amount of ammunition and explosives material, from small arms calibre to 203 mm artillery projectile, hand grenades, air-drop and mortar bombs, land- and under-water mines, rockets and missiles, and to dispose the resulting by-products. Its machinery allows to carry out all the process phases, unpacking, disassembling, removing and inertising primers, defusing ammunition, disassembling charges, cutting and unloading ammunition, inertising ammunition and explosives by rotating ovens or tunnel ovens, and destroying wastes. As for explosive, part of it can be re-used in for civilian purposes, while metal scrap, once cleared in the flash oven, can also go back into the cycle, according to the three-R motto, “Recovery, Re-use, Recycle�. A link between the demilitarisation experts and the group ammunition engineers has been established, to account of demil problems from the ammunition design phase. Coming to Nexter Munitions, the latest products that are to be seen in its show room at La Chapelle St-Urin, near Bourges, are the 40 mm cased telescoped ammunition being produced for CTA International, and in the artillery field the Spacido course correction system, which qualification should be finalised by Q1 2016. The latter system has already been demonstrated to some potential customers, at least one of them being in the Middle East. Although the Spacido is proposed both for 155 and 105 mm artillery grenades, EDR had the feeling that the development in the smaller calibre might be on hold. Questions about new programmes currently in EDR - March / April 2016

The Mecar 30 mm APFSDS munition is in the very final stage of development, and will be available fist for the Mk44 gun and then for the Russian-made 2A72 30 mm gun. (P. Valpolini)

the research and development phases went unanswered, all new initiatives remaining under wraps. However EDR understood that the R&D department at Bourges is pretty active both in the artillery and in the tank ammunition field. In the first area the MPM programme seems to be still running, a new phase being on the verge of being financed by the MoD. This is not the only 155 precision programme underway, long range and guided ammunition in this calibre being apparently in the early stage of development as, according to our information, none will be shown at Eurosatory next June. The other calibre that should see some new developments is the 120 mm; Nexter Munitions developed the rounds for the Leclerc main battle tank, however following the merging with KMW of Germany, whose Leopard 2 is probably the best-selling Western MBT, its chances of increasing its market share in the 120 mm field are considerable, the company being already aiming at qualifying available ammunition on the German tank. If nothing new was announced in the products area, EDR was among the first from outEDR - March / April 2016

side the company to see the new medium calibre cases production facility, on which Nexter Munitions has invested a considerable amount of money. The reason behind that investment is the increase in the medium calibre business: in 2007 some 200,000 rounds were produced, 2013-14 having seen the production of 600,000-700,000 rounds per year. These numbers saturated the production capacity of the Bourges facility, which produced some 2,000 cases per day. It is worth noting that for cost reasons Nexter Munitions chose to use steel rather than brass for its cases. The cases were produced in two main facilities, which meant that lean manufacturing was difficult to achieve for distance reasons, a case travelling for about 1,600 metres from one machine to another during production. Thus a wholly new production system has been installed, the last machinery being currently under qualification, full operational capability of the whole plant being awaited for mid-2016. All production of medium calibre cases has been concentrated in a single building, each case not travelling for more than 600 metres during its production life, this together with the capabilities of the newly acquired machines allowing quality to be maintained, decreasing costs and increasing production. The aim being to produce one million cases per year, which means an increase from the current 2,000 cases per day to 5,000. The plant is able to manufacture cases for 20x139 mm rounds, used in the Narwhal naval system, 25x137 mm rounds used in the 8x8 VBCI infantry fighting vehicle, 30x113 mm ammunition, used by the Tiger attack helicopter and the Mirage 2000 aircraft, and 30x150 ammunition, that is fed into the Rafale gun. The surface treatment machinery has been put in the centre of the building, as cases need to be treated eight times during the manufacturing process. Currently most of the machines needed for the other production process have already been installed in the building, among them that for heat treatments that allows to process 6,000 cases per day in two shifts, the old surface treatment plant awaiting the qualification of the new one before “retirement�, some other machines are


The merging with Krauss-Maffei Wegman should bring new markets for Nexter Munitions 120 mm tank rounds. (P. Valpolini)

awaiting for space to be freed before being relocated. Among them a new test machine which will replace seven single machines currently used for final testing and one that will allow productivity to be doubled. A wholly new line will be established in 2016. Nexter ABG is planning large investments to launch the production of the new 40 mm cased telescoped ammunition for CTAI 40 mm gun, chosen for the French Jaguar 6x6 vehicle, part of the Scorpion programme, and for the British Ajax, known until September 2015 as Specialist Vehicle. CTAI ammunition will be co-produced by Nexter ABG and BAE Systems UK, each country producing some specialised components while both countries having load-assembly-packaging lines. With a workforce of 400, Mecar is the third pillar of Nexter ABG and adds a flexible capacity in the medium and big calibre direct fire ammunition, especially when contracts with limited numbers are obtained. Based some 35 km


south of Brussels, on a relatively small area, the company is fully autonomous in the components production, a seven million Euro investment in machinery was carried out in 2015 to add new CNC machines in the mechanical production department, as well as in the loading, assembly and packaging process of kinetic energy and explosive ammunition. A number of the rounds produced aim at improving the performances of legacy weapon systems, such as Scorpion light tanks fitted with 76 mm gun, armoured cars equipped with a variety of 90 mm guns, as well as recoilless guns such as the 106 mm M40A1. In the kinetic energy field Mecar works together with specialised companies such as Cime Bocuze and Kennametal to exploit to the best new breakthrough in materials, mostly for improving tungsten penetrators performances, these being used not only in MBT guns, it is currently the largest producer of 105 mm ammunition, but also in medium calibre automatic cannons. To this end one of recent developments is the 30x165 mm APFSDS round for the 2A42 and 2A72 guns, aimed at those nations equipped with BMP 2 and BMP 3 infantry fighting vehicles, Finland, the UAE, Kuwait and India being among them. The penetrator is a direct derivative of that used in the 30x173 mm round aimed at the Mk44 ATK cannon, while the case is in steel rather than aluminium, its reduced volume means that the muzzle velocity is lower, 1,275 m/s against 1,400 m/s. According to Mecar engineers this round doubles penetration compared with Russian rounds, that country lagging behind western nations in tungsten penetrator technology. Compatibility tests of aluminium case rounds for the Mk44 were carried out in late November 2015, those for steel case ammunition being scheduled for January 2016, while the Russian version should be fully developed around mid-2016. Beside KE rounds Mecar is a specialist in HESH rounds (High Explosive Squash Head), once used against tanks but now mostly required to cope with bunkers and other static targets. Two such rounds are currently being developed, one in the 90 mm calibre dedicated to the CMI Mk8 rifled medium pressure gun, the other for EDR - March / April 2016

X-ray control at Mecar; depending on the manufacturing phase sample controls or integral controls are carried out. (Mecar)

the 120 mm smoothbore gun, standard for western MBTs. Produced by compression; the company has a 350 tonnes press that allows it to obtain a higher explosive density compared with most competitors, the Mk8 round should complete testing in January 2016, while the 120 mm round should be available for demonstration in late 2016. Ballistic tests are ongoing now, the fuse solution will be a derivative of that used on smaller calibre rounds, while warhead static tests have already been conducted. In the past the HESH/ HEP type projectile body was produced using the so called hot-cup, cold-draw method. This consisted of two steps, first a tube blank was produced by reverse extrusion on a press, then the ogive was produced by radial material flow. This process, if efficient for mass production, generated dynamic unbalance which reduced the round accuracy. To consistently improve accuracy all modern Mecar HESH rounds have a machined body that ensures a more dynamic balance: the 105 HESH has shown a 0.15-0.17 standard deviation at one kilometre range. Not only, has the round a stronger nose but thermal treatments on the front part of the body allow a trim to the ogive hardness, maintaining a good squash-head effect against medium armoured vehicles while ensuring sufficient penetration into a concrete wall before explosion. This is also due to the dedicated bottom fuse, which gives the round optimal anti-structure capacity exploiting blast and fragments to cut steel bars in the concrete providing the required opening. Initially 120 mm rounds, which are being developed in cooperation with Orbital ATK in the United States that is responsiEDR - March / April 2016

ble for propulsion and stabilisation, will be loaded with Comp A3 explosive, this is cheaper for testing, however late prototypes and production rounds will be filled with insensitive explosive. The availability of a HESH round for the 120 mm smoothbore will add flexibility to many MBTs, this round being much less expensive than multipurpose rounds currently used to open breaches when necessary. According to Mecar experts the difference in spin between rounds fired from rifled guns and those fired from smoothbore guns seems to only marginally affect HESH rounds performances. The Belgian company is also working on ammunition for 120 mm rifled guns, India needing effective rounds for its Arjun MBT. Mecar is also busy in qualifying a new insensible 120 mm mortar round and has developed ammunition solutions for breech loaded turreted mortars such as the Finnish Nemo. A Middle East customer recently installed the Nemo on a fast patrol boat, becoming the first naval customer for Mecar, a company that has always specialised in land ammunition. Insensible 81 and 60 mm mortar ammunition will follow. Mecar is looking at further improvements, and is working, for example, on nano-technologies, aiming at producing nano aluminium powder to add to explosives, the greater contact surface allowing to considerably increase the blast enhancement effect. The company is also Mecar is also developing combustible case tank rounds both for 105 mm and 90 mm low and high pressure guns; the 105 mm version should be completed in late 2016, the same technology then being then used , in 2017 for the 90 mm version.


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