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Subject: AS90 upgrades
perfectgeneral    2/1/2005 8:11:15 AM
The 52 calibre upgrade (from 39) for non-Braveheart AS90's has been put on hold. UK land forces fall behind once more in force concentration. Maybe we will eventually see a better upgrade as a result of this? 1500 hp power plant? 155mm/55 calibre up-gun? Barrel cooling system? The wish list is endless I suppose. Light and medium forces seem to be flavour of the month, so will we see a medium artillery system like the isreali SPWH 2052 truck mounted howitzer? Could that be a 155/55? Given that mobility would be it's main protection a 1500 hp power plant would help (some common spares with the C2 MBT would help too).
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perfectgeneral    RE:Medium Artillery   2/1/2005 8:27:19 AM
How about buying G6-52's off the shelf from South Africa? Quality.
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Yimmy    RE:Medium Artillery   2/1/2005 9:29:53 PM
Why not just get rid of heavy imobile artillery guns and buy more JSF close support aircraft...
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neutralizer    RE:Medium Artillery   2/2/2005 4:18:02 AM
The official UK position seems to be that AS90 will remain in service until 2025. However, well before this whatever comes out of FRES will probably replace AS90 in mech bdes or whatever they are called with FRES. Currently AS90 are starting their first upgrade, conversion to BOWMAN communications, this isn't just new radios, that would be far too simplistic, it also includes BATES GDU with its comms and encryption unit. Presumably it includes P-BISA but whether this picks up non-gunnery management functions on the AS90 platform is unclear, also whether it involves a new display unit (the one that was developed with AS90, not the BATES GDU) as part of the battle management system is unclear. This will be followed in a couple of years by the new FC-BISA hosted on BOWMAN computers, it's not clear if this means AS90 will get an on-board ballistic computation capability including MV prediction. The core of the new ballistic software in FC-BISA using the NABK is already in service with the new touch screen backup CP computer. UK seems to have abandoned 52 cal barrels, at least for the moment. The cause was the inabilty of SOMCHEM (the S African ammo manufacturer) to produce modular charges able to meet the Insensitive Munitions requirements (a NATO STANAG) which UK regulations require with all new ammo. This probably precludes any S African ammo from UK consideration until they fix it (if they can). For those not up to speed on modern ammo, the SOMCHEM modular charges were selected after a competition involving all the main suppliers with such ammo, the attraction of SOMCHEM is their cartridge design that ensures incredibly low barrel wear, this significantly reduces life cycle costs over the next 20 years. Pity it can't meet the IM rules. UK intention now appears to be to achieve increased range through ammunition developments, the new very extended range shells with some form of course correction. Of course GMLRS is also important (part of the LIMAWS(R)program) is also part of the overall artillery system. Lt Guns will remain in service until 2020, but with a mid-life upgrade and at least some new ammo that is due next year, although no orders have been announced. However, no decisions have been made about a new gun under the LIMAWS(G) program but the smart money is on M777 or whatever UK chooses to call it (giving a UK designed, developed and manufactured gun a US designation would be a bit odd). It would probably be reasonable to assume that the recently announced M777 portee on a Supacat vehicle that is about to start trials at Larkhill is an indicator of the current thinking by the capability staff. I wouldn't assume that the eventual M777 will be the US configuation (ie without the power elevation and power ramming options), UK probably puts higher value of rate of fire and smaller detachments than a bit of gun weight.
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perfectgeneral    RE:Medium Artillery   2/2/2005 10:23:33 AM
Many thanks neutralizer. Most illuminating. Since the IM is a NATO requirement, SOMCHEM will lose a lot of trade if they don't meet it. Here's hoping.
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Worcester    RE:Medium Artillery - neutralizer   2/2/2005 9:32:34 PM
I guess if you are going to have 50% more light Brigades (19 Bde converting now to join 3 Cdo and 16 AA), and 33% fewer heavy brigades (4 Armor to become Medium with 1 & 12); and all the light need 105mm (and possibly M777) and all the Medium are getting FRES..and only the 2 Heavy brigades (7 & 20) retain AS90 must be a little difficult to work out how many AS90 will need upgrading. Didnt the last CGS statement (or was it the press release) state that the three Medium Brigades would all receive the lightened MLRS in place of AS90? I seem to recall it did. Or was it a supplemental buy? Certainly AS90 doen't seem to fit any of the weight/effects specs for the new the Medium Brigades.
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neutralizer    RE:Medium Artillery - neutralizer   2/3/2005 4:14:38 AM
Yes, IM is a NATO agreement (not quite the same thing as a 'requirement') but it's up to nations to decide when they adopt it. The Brits seem to be early adopters and RO (ie BAeS)have done a lot to have a new HE available that is IM, I think it's called ROWANEX or something similar. If an arty FRES enters service before 2015 it will be a miracle (and I've not seen any dates even hinted at for guns). 5 regts at 24 guns each is WE until then (unless money appears and they can afford to resurrect the 4th gun group in each mech bde). Only 2 btys of LIMAWS(R) are being acquired (initially?), a published source that should know states that this will give 9 btys, although I think its more likely to be 7 with 2 btys worth of the current SPLLs being taken out of service. All lnchrs will be in General Support regts. It occurred to me that there might be another small AS90 upgrade very soon. I believe they've just selected new fuzes to replace the current electronic multi-role fuze (L106) that is the standard fit on all HE (for US readers UK, like most European armies delivers its 155mm HE already fuzed) and for the electronic time fuze (L116) fitted to cargo shells. It appears that the key requirement for new fuzes is that they use induction fuze setting. Current e-fze setters have a 'cone' with electrical contacts that is put over the fuze nose. AS90 currently has 2 fze setters, one fitted inside and one for ammo prep outside, both setters can have fze length and or fze option (PD or Lo, M or Hi airburst) set manually with switches or electronically by taking data from the BATES GDU. With induction setting it's possible that the necessary new setters will have one fixed to the breech or somewhere else along the shell's loading path and may interlock with the loading system to prevent a duff fze being loaded. Currently one of the detachment has to place the setter cone over the fze (the cone is connected to the setter box by cable) and wait to see the Go/NoGo light.
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ArtyEngineer    RE:Medium Artillery   2/4/2005 3:51:35 PM
Is the introduction of the FIN 3110 part of this upgrade or has that already been completed? What exactly are they doing with the supacat, is it simply towing the M777, or is carrying it as some sort of deployable and recoverable unit?
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neutralizer    RE:Medium Artillery   2/5/2005 2:13:24 AM
My reading on FIN3110 is that it's a substitute/alternative for the current RLG unit. It's not clear if it gives superior performance or not. I don't read it as fleet upgrade program but could be wrong. The Supacat is portee, ie it carries the gun and 20 rds with some sort of mechanism for load and unloading it. It also has applique armouring for the cab. The veh is 8x6 with 3 axles at the rear under the load. lengthe wise the gun sits right to the rear but the barrel looks as if it extends just beyond the front of the vehicle. Gross weight is given as 'about' 13 tonne, and weights: gun 4155 kg, veh 5200 kg, portee eqpt 1000 kg, ammo 1230 kg, CES (ie gun stores) 370 kg, ammo racks 200kg. Add 500kg for applique armour and obviously a bit more if power elev and loading were fitted. The trials gun has LINAPS (ie same as L118). It's described as 2 Chinook loads. The portee gear can also lift std ULCs and 3(=51 rds)can be carried instead of the gun. If it's OK with good in/out action time then I'd guess the Brits will go for it because it makes more sense than anything else on offer, and I'd rate it as better than 50:50 for Australia although the vehicle and its support would be the problem for them. BAeS have also brochure engineered a scaled down M777 carriage with a 105mm which could presumably use a similar vehicle system.
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neutralizer    RE:AS90 upgrades   2/7/2005 5:21:16 AM
I'll change my view in the post before last. I don't think UK will deploy a 155mm (or 105mm) on the FRES platform. The timescales are all against it. Indications are that they will use LIMAWS(G) in their 'medium weight' currently mech bdes. This means they won't be towed and make the armoured portee even more likely (with the same guns being used in some light btys). Timescale is a guess but they may start replacing AS90 in these bdes by about 2010, even if FRES is still a year or two short of IOC then. Another interesting portent is last week's anouncement of a research contract for 'low cost loitering carriers' fired from existing platforms (read MLRS or perhaps Phoenix) using COTS components. Clearly the Brits judge the time is getting ripe, about 25 yrs ago when the RAF was talking about the next generation of weapons being stand-off msls an intelligent infantryman observed why bother about aircraft why not fire them from trucks. Not the sort of notion that the aerospece industry or air marshals are very keen on but it looks as if the time may be coming. Obviously the life cycle cost business case is starting to look like a runner, wait for a reduction in the size of the JSF fleet.
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neutralizer    RE:AS90 upgrades   2/11/2005 4:39:08 AM
It appears that FIN3110 is not just an alternative RLG. It seems it might be a complete DRU replacement for the Kearfott unit (also used in M109A6). It's a 2 year program to replace exisitng units. FIN3110 includes GPS. This is interesting because the Bowman radios also include GPS and the obvious answer is to take the fixation data from the radio through the turret compurt then to the DRU. AS90 was always designed to have GPS, IIRC the turret computer has a slot for a board with a GPS chipset. Basically GPS eliminates the need to manually input updates to the DRU inertial navigation system. (Inertial system needs periodic updates, basically in terms of the distance the gun has travelled since the last one. The usual way of doing this is to use a PADS that has travelled to a local survey control point. US is getting new PADS but UK seems to be planning to eliminate them (UK uses a Ferranti one introduced in about 1980)). It's an interesting question why FIN3110/DRU has GPS given it's in Bowman radios, one answer may be that it's differential GPS. This degree of accuracy doesn't make a lot of sense unless on-board computation is being adopted with FC-BISA. The reason is that the ballistic trajectory is from the muzzle and the DRU is about 6 metres (traditionally arty hasn't worried about this sort of precision) from this but if I understand current military GPS is has a CEP of about 4 metres, and AS90 PErange is about half M109/M198. In other words to make DGPS precision worthwhile you need to know exactly where the muzzle is, and this depends on the bearing of fire. The obvious way of doing this is calculating trajectories on-board from where the the muzzle position will be, unless Bowman is providing high data rates so that it can be done centrally in the BCP. The other issue is whether GPS in FIN3110 needs a hole in the armour to the antenna as well as a new cable run.
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