Military Review

Medium caliber for armored vehicles


12,7-mm / .50 caliber cartridges are standard for most large-caliber machine guns, and the widespread use of this caliber means that it is subject to technological improvements

The development of ammunition from 12,7-mm ammunition to 20 / 30-mm cannon shells led to an increase in fire power and mortality in the entire spectrum of medium-caliber ammunition.

Changes in the requirements for medium-caliber ammunition in recent years have been evolutionary rather than revolutionary, but the achievement of better mortality has always been common. Improvements in this class of ammunition mean that smaller caliber weapons can be installed on light armored vehicles instead of the main gun of a larger caliber and, at the same time, they can achieve significant kinetic effects while maintaining high levels of mobility.

For example, British troops are eyeing the capabilities of 40-mm automatic grenade launchers with the aim of installing them on Jackal armored cars in Afghanistan, since the army was delighted with the characteristics of the system installed on a personal weapon infantrymen in the grenade configuration.

Parallel targets

For armored vehicles, mortality remains critical due to the rapid increase in the effectiveness of armor protection, therefore, the destructive power available to modern armored vehicles must also increase proportionately.

“What was once considered the main weapon tank, today you can see it on the BMP, ”said Moritz Fischer, customer service manager at the Rheinmetall Defense ammunition manufacturing company.

“Due to the combination of the optimal combination of ammunition, modern infantry fighting vehicles can fight any threat on the battlefield and become a real factor in increasing combat readiness.”
The company spends the so-called annual day of medium caliber to show its weapons systems and ammunition in this area. This time, the capabilities of the Mk 2013 automatic 30 cannon were demonstrated at the test site in Oksenboden, Switzerland in the middle of 32. An armored Boxer with an installed Rheinmetall Lance turret fired from this cannon with an air bomb under its corresponding target.

A BTR Boxer 8x8 with an installed Lancer turret fires MK30-2 ABM cannon with KETF X-ray armor-piercing 30-mm projectiles from Rheinmetall

Medium caliber for armored vehicles

30-mm ATK air-blast projectile can hit air targets or targets behind cover.

Another manufacturer of ammunition, the US company ATK, also specializes in the development of this caliber. It produces ammunition calibers 20, 25, 30 mm, as well as "light" 30-mm projectiles.

ATK representative Nick Ranallo agreed with Fisher that increasing firepower is one of the main trends currently affecting ammunition design. The armed forces around the world are seeking to increase caliber guns on their terrestrial platforms. This is partly also due to the increase of efficiency of systems of protection of potential targets.

Advanced upgrades

In order to meet these requirements, ATK is expanding its range of larger calibers, while at the same time enhancing the characteristics of its current ammunition. It explores and modifies explosives to increase the speed, penetration and accuracy of the projectile, and also works on the design of the projectile to further improve the accuracy, deploy a more powerful combat charge and increase the levels of the impact, especially in terms of armor penetration.

Today we see that most of the BMP comes with medium-caliber guns, but “this was not the norm for 25 years ago,” Fisher said.

He said that Rheinmetall chose medium-caliber kinetic shells. They set a goal - to develop low-sensitive ammunition that will not detonate, but burn or even not respond to external factors: fire, kinetic impact or other shock effects. This means that they are safe to handle, store and use even in rapidly changing operational space.

Another priority is the development of air blasting ammunition ABM. The French company Nexter Munitions views such ammunition as an “effective lever” for existing calibers. Thierry Brady, vice president of strategy for the company, said that ABM projectiles can be used to destroy targets both on the ground (especially shelters) and in the air.

Meanwhile, ATK is developing its capabilities in two priority areas: mechanical fuses with low drag, and ABM. Ranallo said the company will announce the first overseas order for its MK310 ABM projectile, which was developed for the MK44 Bushmaster automatic cannon. However, he did not dwell on this in detail, but confirmed that the order is really for ATK 30 mm ABM ammunition, which are intended for MK44 cannons mounted on Thales Bushmaster machines of one of the European countries. (Only the Netherlands and the UK are the operators of protected machines Vushmaster.)

Installing such 40-mm guns as CTAS on armored vehicles, such as the Warrior BMP, will give you huge advantages, including significantly improved lethality

Limited job

The ABM air assault projectile enables the MK44 cannon to “destroy a huge number of targets with a higher lethality compared to conventional ammunition,” Ranallo noted.

The first order for the MK310 provides for the supply of ammunition in quantities only for “initial deployment”. The military will receive a programmable ammunition with three modes: point detonation, point detonation with a delay or air blasting.

Rheinmetall has developed AHEAD (Advanced Hit Efficiency and Destruction) air-blasting projectile to combat air targets and a KETF (Kinetic Energy Time Fuse) remote fuse kinetic projectile for ground-based purposes. The first is a shell with ready-made striking elements (tungsten cylinders), which affect the target with its kinetic energy.

35-mm projectile air blasting from the company Rheinmetall AHEAD

AHEAD Ammunition Family

Manufacturers are also keen to offer their customers ammunition with a wide range of effects that are suitable for different scenarios. These include not only kinetic, high-explosive shells or ABM projectiles, but also non-lethal options that can be fired as a warning or used as non-kinetic means.

Capabilities Directorate capabilities are interested in increasing non-lethal capabilities that can be realized from existing dismounted melee systems. These include, for example, weapons firing 40-mm rubber bullets, which is based on existing police systems available in the commercial market.

Urban environment

Other possible scenarios, such as military operations in urban areas, the number of which is also growing, also contributed to the fact that manufacturers now offer entire families of shells specifically designed for combat in built-up areas.

Ranallo said that the ammunition industry can work together to meet specific requirements that products manufactured by a separate company cannot meet. “We are developing partnerships around the world to fill our technological gaps and the gaps of our partners,” he explained. “We can take and use each other’s proposals either at the local or international level in order to shorten the response time to customer comments and the delivery time of already refined products.”

The reliability and effectiveness of fuses, which are a necessary component of many projectiles, have also greatly increased in recent years.

Brady said that Nexter Munitions is developing micro-pyrotechnics using the technology of micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS). “The purpose of this is to increase the warhead of medium-caliber shells by miniaturizing the fuses while increasing their functionality,” he said.

Low-impedance fuses from ATK, such as M758, offer an increased response time when meeting with a target at long distances, while meeting the increased requirements for impact fuses. This means that when the projectile hits the target even at a slight angle, the warhead will be initiated anyway. As a rule, a projectile that does not have a fuse with low frontal resistance is more likely to ricochet off the target.

Ricochet shells

They are designed to deal with new booking systems, which are currently better designed for ricocheting shells arriving at non-perpendicular angles.

“This is a very important opportunity when you look at the reliability of our semi-armor high-explosive incendiary projectiles [SAPHEI],” Ranallo said.

20-mm high-explosive incendiary projectile SAPHEI

Low drag resistance fuses can be used in a number of ATK projectiles, including the ZNXX-mm high-explosive incendiary ZAP, designed to hit unarmored and lightly armored targets and available in SAPHEI Super Quick and Delay configurations. Ranallo said that the ammunition ready for foreign markets.

Meanwhile, CTA (cased telescoped ammunition) telescopic munitions represent a more radical departure from tradition, potentially offering significant savings in mass and volume, which is very important for all armored vehicles.

Textron Systems from the United States has developed telescopic ammunition for small arms as part of the US Army program. However, at the forefront of developing mid-range ammunition is a joint venture between BAE Systems and Nexter CTA International (CTAI) from Europe.

The Cased Telescoped Armament System (CTAS) 40-mm telescopic ammunition system from CTAI has a significantly smaller mass compared to traditional systems of this caliber, but equal efficiency to them. It offers a high level of firepower for an armored vehicle, traditionally associated with medium-caliber weapons, in cases where, as a rule, there is space for a smaller caliber gun or a larger caliber gun, but with low characteristics.

The cannon uses a rotating breech to automatically feed various types of shells. The projectile is located inside the liner and is surrounded by a propelling charge.

CTAS 40 family of shells

CTAS gun at Eurosatory 2014

All in the sleeve

Along with the British Ministry of Defense, the French Department of Defense Procurement strongly supports the CTAS project. CTAI began work on the original British authorization, while the final requirements were fully agreed by the British and French authorities.

CTAI has already completed the first stage of the qualification process for this weapon system. The gun itself and its armor-piercing and practical shells were approved by the French and British authorities. The same lengthy and complex qualification process is to go through a universal projectile detonation projectile and an air explosive ordnance.

CTAI has already delivered 16 cannons and some 25000 projectiles (13000 for qualification and 12000 for demonstration). Another 8000 - 85000 shells will be supplied by the company in 2014 - 2015 to the British Department of Defense for the integration process with the British Army Warrior and Scout machines.

Meanwhile, France has confirmed its intention to install this weapon system on its advanced EBRC armored wheeled vehicle.

French and British contracts mean that the CTAI order book is estimated at 137 million dollars.

David Kutri, head of international business at CTAI, said that CTA projectiles are more expensive than traditional projectiles, but their advantages far outweigh their disadvantages. "If you install the 40-mm cannon on an armored vehicle, similar to the Warrior, then this will allow you to get huge benefits, since the mortality of the BMP will increase significantly."

New Topics

Programmable ammunition, in particular the caliber 40 mm, is another interesting direction in this area. The British Department of Defense is exploring the possibilities of programmable ammunition in conjunction with improved sighting systems (digital optical sights), since the accuracy of delivery of a combat charge in this case is significantly increased, especially for targets in shelters.

In the USA, ATK and Heckler & Koch developed the XM25 CDTE (Counter Defilade Target Engagement) grenade launcher. Using an aiming system from L-3 Integrated Optical Systems, CDTE fires 25mm grenades that detonate in the air near the target. Using a laser rangefinder, the grenade launcher can choose the distance at which the grenade detonates.

The system was tested by the US Army and deployed in Afghanistan, but funding was discontinued in June 2013, with the result that full-scale production of CDTE grenades did not begin.

Other technological improvements relate to the possibility of electrical ignition in prospective 12,7 caliber cartridges mm and less, and switching to lead-free ammunition in order to reduce the environmental pollution of the spent cartridges.

Another area of ​​research concerns the increase in the range of so-called invisible radiation shells or infrared illumination shells (including tracer); these developments will allow tactical maneuvering in zero visibility conditions.

Practical ammunition

Developments are also underway in other areas, for example, in order to reduce the cost, new practical or training ammunition is being actively developed. The Swiss company RUAG invests a lot in research and development in the medium-caliber segment, focusing on practical melee cartridges.

The company offers a Short Range 12,7-mm cartridge for training bases that have limited areas. With a valid 800 range, the bullet has poor aerodynamic characteristics that quickly reduce the speed of the bullet. A version of this cartridge with a tracer is also available.

A representative from RUAG said that the HC SX Browning's 12,7-mm cartridge, consisting of a hardened steel core with a brass strap, is “the most accurate armor-piercing ranged cartridge”. However, the SX 12.7mm Browning practical cartridge of this company, identical in shape to the HC SX live cartridge, has an aluminum-zinc alloy core that reduces barrel wear, and this is very important for shooting ranges.

Fisher said that there are good prospects for medium-caliber ammunition since “they have tremendous fire power and strength. Medium-caliber ammunition more than any other type of ammunition (smaller or larger) allows you to get the optimal balance between the entire weapon system, the mass of the projectile and its rate of fire. "

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  1. shtraib
    shtraib 23 September 2014 08: 46
    What is the thread heard about our 45 mm telescopic shells?
    1. Sunjar
      Sunjar 23 September 2014 08: 59
      All this is very wonderful and useful, but only for special services and special. operations. For all this pleasure is very expensive. When we estimate the hostilities in New Russia, you can imagine the amount spent on the war and on ammunition in particular. For half a year they were spent unmeasured. Imagine a larger war longer in time. There are already astronomical numbers looming. Of course, such ammunition is necessary, but I repeat once again that they are needed for special. services and special. operations.
      1. cosmos111
        cosmos111 23 September 2014 09: 54
        ammunition calibers 20, 25, 30 mm, as well as "light" 30-mm shells.

        excellent article good

        but not what, it is not said, about the 23 mm shells developed back in the Second World War in the USSR !!!!
        cheap in production and used in the world, probably more than all, calibres combined ....
        armed with them, and the NATO countries, Bulgaria, Romania, Poland, etc., not to mention Africa, Asia and China !!!!!
        23 mm, the most widely used caliber in the world, small-caliber shells ...
        a, memory-2-23, generally a classic of the genre good

        ZU23-2, WerWolf Mk2 Namibia

        South Africa "Zumlac" installation of ZU23-2 on Samil-100

        23-2 POLAND
        1. shtraib
          shtraib 23 September 2014 10: 01
          30s have better penetration and fragmentation effect.
          You can by the way remember the BTR-94, with a pair of 23mm.

          1. Forest
            Forest 26 September 2014 18: 38
            I would not say that 2A42 has a good penetration - in Grozny, BMPs often did not pierce thin brick walls, which were taken by KPVT. I advise you to read "Tanks in the battles for Grozny".
        2. The comment was deleted.
        3. tkhonov66
          tkhonov66 23 September 2014 13: 51
          but nothing is said about 23 mm shells developed back in WWII in the USSR !!!!
          a review for sure BOURGEOIS (translated).
          Since all such domestic reviews are in the old Russian tradition, they appear under the bar (at least chipboard) ...
          And since the review is "bourgeois", then they are categorically "worthless" to advertise the SUPER SUCCESSFUL products of their main competitors ...
          1. Bobik012
            Bobik012 16 October 2017 21: 57
            Programmable ammunition, ammunition of remote detonation, etc. Shrapnel, for example, was rejected at the beginning of the 20th century as a result of the experience of combat use in favor of a fragmentation grenade as a more effective means of destruction. In the BPS of almost all calibers from 30 to 125 mm, the principle of advertised telescopic ammunition has been used for 50 years in all armies in the most conventional guns without the need for specialized systems. And in OFS, this principle is useless, but for a person familiar with mathematics at the elementary school level, it is clear that the length of the cartridge with a given caliber and the magnitude of the metal charge in this case is not reduced. All these inventions have nothing to do with knocking out money for wunderwafers and have nothing to do with the real effectiveness of "medium caliber artillery"
      2. shtraib
        shtraib 23 September 2014 09: 54
        A lot of them have been spent due to the low training of specialists and the low efficiency of ammunition. And the equipment is very outdated, for example, in BMP2 there is not even a banal rangefinder - you have to think it in your mind, but in most cases - they do not bother and are aimed by shooting. So much for the overspending.
        1. cosmos111
          cosmos111 23 September 2014 11: 30
          Quote: shtraib
          with low training and low ammunition efficiency.

          there are specialists with high qualifications and about the "low efficiency" of 23 mm ammunition, everyone knows, but they continue to keep the ZU23-2 in service ...
          Yes, still constantly upgrading them !!!

          in the Russian Airborne Forces

          air defense machine with ZU-23-2 upgraded in Serbia
          1. shtraib
            shtraib 23 September 2014 11: 57
            Believe me, if the 2a42 had an anti-aircraft version on a simple, easy towed carriage, it would also be stuck anywhere. But there is no such thing (because the return is strong and such an installation will not be easy and compact, making the S-60 of a smaller caliber is pointless), and therefore they put the bite anywhere.
        2. tkhonov66
          tkhonov66 23 September 2014 13: 59
          "... So much for the overrun.
          - Heh, so on this - on the very "overrun" of the T-34 - and was recognized as the best tank of the Second World War.
          - sho they were riveted "like seeds", koi "seeds" - successfully and CRUSHED all "high-tech" tigers.
          A serious war is primarily ECONOMY (maximizing the number of sufficiently effective weapons produced for a given cost / labor)
          - and what is written here is BUSINESS - i.e. maximization of profit (derived surplus value) when producing a fixed amount of "super-efficient" weapons.
          why "in quotes" - yes, because tests for storage, impact and exposure to aggressive environmental factors - it seems that no one ND conducted ...
          1. shtraib
            shtraib 23 September 2014 14: 14
            Well, according to Rogozin, the RF Armed Forces will move from quantity to quality.
          2. captain
            captain 23 September 2014 22: 02
            The T-34 is the most massive tank in the world. We consider him the best. For fun, see our losses during the war and the losses of the Germans. Starting on September 1, 1939, 65000 tanks, sau and assault guns were launched by the Germans, and we were 22 tanks and sau on 1941 June 103000 and 7000 tanks, and we had about 26000 tanks before the war. By the way, the Germans started and ended the war on tanks with gasoline ICEs, their service life was about 600 hours, and our T-34 - 100 in the factory. Our internal combustion engines on BT -7 and t -26 had a motor resource of about 500 engine hours and any maneuvers could be performed with such a motor resource, and 5 lost almost half of the tanks on the march during the Kursk battle and they did not take part in the counterattack, the Germans had very The repair units are strong and they restored twice as many tanks during the war years as we did. . Our tank troops suffered such terrible losses in the initial period of the war, not because our tanks were worse, but because the crews were poorly trained, there were practically no communications on the tanks, and most importantly, our commanders and staffs were not trained in combat coordination tank units could only dream of. How training affects you can look at the actions of the Ukrainian army in the Donbass.
            1. Bobik012
              Bobik012 16 October 2017 22: 01
              I advise you to see the results of the war and draw conclusions which tanks are better based on them
  2. Serge56
    Serge56 23 September 2014 08: 47
    games "CIA" ... Why in quotes - it's all the past century. Such developments are mind-boggling. Let us recall when the Americans threw the crazy idea about SDI and thus provoked billions of expenses for the USSR. Throwing misinformation about weapons is off the charts, just to knock out the grandmother of the Rogozins.
    We need a paired, caliber 15 - when one can hit with fragmentation, the second with armor.
    1. shtraib
      shtraib 23 September 2014 09: 57
      You read about 2a72, which has ammunition from two tapes. Have you decided to invent a bicycle?
      1. La-5
        La-5 23 September 2014 11: 42
        Most of the small-caliber guns mounted on armored vehicles have two tape power.
    2. no matter who i am
      no matter who i am 23 September 2014 10: 34
      This is not stuffing, but pah, compared to their lasers and railguns
    3. goose
      goose 23 September 2014 11: 54
      How does the installation of the SLA and rangefinder affect the cost of shells? And they have fallen in value recently, and in size. The same applies to fuses, their cost, reliability and dimensions are beyond praise. Systems that count the number of revolutions very well raise the efficiency of firing. Everything is already profitable, starting from 25 mm, and if you pack in 40 mm or 57 mm, then the benefit when switching to programmable fuses is obvious. At the same time, no one cancels the traditional ammunition with two-tape power. The main thing is to increase the efficiency of the OS (OFS for low ballistic systems). It seems to me that this measure will have the greatest effect for systems with an initial velocity of less than 400 m / s. Where a queue was needed, 1 shell will fit, and with a greater guarantee. BUT! Depends on the goal.
      1. shtraib
        shtraib 23 September 2014 12: 13
        The SLA does not affect the cost, but the cost of firing. The better the SLA, the less shells will be consumed when firing. The less they need to buy.

        Low ballistic guns do not penetrate walls well. As it turned out during the battle in the city - this is very important. And armored targets - what to do with them? ATGMs may not be enough for anything. They talked about installing an automatic grenade launcher with a range of up to 57 km in the future 6mm BMP, but I'm afraid it's more of an auxiliary weapon to replace the AGS-17 grenade platoons. The weapon is good, but specific.
    4. The comment was deleted.
  3. kplayer
    kplayer 23 September 2014 10: 02
    For example, British troops are eyeing the capabilities of 40-mm automatic grenade launchers with a view to installing them on Jackal armored vehicles in Afghanistan, since the army was delighted with the characteristics of the system installed on the infantry’s personal weapons in an underbarrel configuration.

    It’s been a long time since they stopped looking closely, but they adopted and fully use the German 40x53-mm automatic Heckler-Koch GMG and 40x46-mm under-barrel AG36 (GLM).
  4. Analgin
    Analgin 23 September 2014 12: 35
    Quote: cosmos111
    there are specialists with high qualifications and about the "low efficiency" of 23 mm ammunition, everyone knows, but they continue to keep the ZU23-2 in service ...
    Yes, still constantly upgrading them !!!

    What is called "without fish ..." Our industry does not produce other options. Well, except that "Bakhcha" with its 100mm.
    20-30mm shells have too little high-explosive fragmentation effect. The future belongs to more calibers. 57mm KMK is a very tempting option: it will break through any BMP, incl. and perspective from any angle right through, the tank will make holes in the side, the fragmentation variant with a programmable fuse will "please" the infantry. The ammunition load will certainly decrease, but here 2-3 shots will be enough instead of 2-3 dozen from a smaller caliber.
    1. shtraib
      shtraib 23 September 2014 13: 10
      If you do BMP with such a gun, it is better as a separate fire support vehicle, so that the entire internal space can be used for ammunition.
      Bakhcha, by the way, also occupies a place in the interior of the BMP, which is not desirable for a modern BMP.
      1. max702
        max702 23 September 2014 13: 33
        Quote: shtraib
        Bakhcha, by the way, also occupies a place in the interior of the BMP, which is not desirable for a modern BMP.

        Not all the place, but only the tower and the place beneath it, no one encroached on the landing sites, this is the whole tsimes of enormous firepower and the ability to transport soldiers. in the West, they didn’t create anything like this, by itself the SLA and the programmed ammunition will only increase the capabilities of the system ..
        1. spech
          spech 23 September 2014 13: 42
          do not forget the weight.
        2. shtraib
          shtraib 23 September 2014 14: 15
          They didn’t create this in the West, because they are looking for a balance between firepower, protection and capacity, in the case of the BMP-3, the first factor was given maximum attention, and everything else turned out - how it turned out.
          That is why our Ministry of Defense is not particularly enthusiastic about the procurement of BMP-3. The tower is large and heavy, just the very weight and place that can be used for transported infantry and strengthen protection. In addition, such a massive tower leads to the need to carry the engine and weapons around the car, i.e. the engine in front is the tower in the back, and vice versa.
          For the BMP, this is doubly bad, because the main requirement there is the ability to leave the car through the rear hatches, in the case of the BMP-3 it is somewhat difficult, and in addition it reduced the number of troops to five people. As a result, Bahchu is considered skeptical in Moscow Region. If you place the engine in front of the BMP-3 - such a machine will sink during the melt due to the strong displacement of the center of gravity.
          For BMD - it was not so critical, because it was built on the old base, and there was no replacement, and there everything was bad with the landing party. By the way, Moscow Region was pulling with her for the same reason - it wanted to improve the situation.
          The main desire of the Ministry of Defense now is a completely external remote-controlled weapon module that does not occupy the space beyond the armory. Next see BM Boomerang.
    2. cosmos111
      cosmos111 23 September 2014 14: 26
      Quote: Analgin
      57mm kmk very

      Quote: shtraib
      If you do BMP with such a gun, it is better as a separate fire support vehicle, so that the entire internal space can be used for ammunition.

      are already doing, at the UralVagonZavod BM "Atom" with a 57 mm S-60 cannon
      1. shtraib
        shtraib 23 September 2014 17: 58
        Nobody forbids to do, but ours will not take it into service, as a wheeled BMP. Especially now
      2. Forest
        Forest 26 September 2014 18: 42
        So this is a Russian-French project. Now collapsed.
  5. Lenar
    Lenar 23 September 2014 13: 09
    Serious unit
  6. Olegmog
    Olegmog 23 September 2014 18: 16
    Ground clearance is some small !?
  7. Prager
    Prager 1 November 2014 09: 30
    a good car, apparently, the designers seriously approached its creation.