The development of the company BAE Systems Bofors 40 Mk 4 ended in 2012 with a series of naval firing from a prototype Mk 4 from the Swedish patrol boat HSwMS Jagaren
Arms manufacturers in Sweden and Italy are promoting their light 40-mm L / 70 naval artillery mounts and related programmable ammunition to the market.
In the postwar period, the 40-mm gun L / 70 has established itself as something classic. Its development began back in 1944, when the Swedish military company Bofors (today part of the BAE Systems mega-corporation) began work on the successor to its widespread L / 40 60-mm cannon, which effectively fought the new generation of high-speed, highly maneuverable jet aircraft. As a result, a new 40-mm gun system with a higher rate of fire, an 70 barrel in caliber length, new ammunition and stabilized mirror sights with built-in adjustment mechanisms appeared.
In the 50s, Bofors began selling its 40-mm single-barrel L / 70 installations (manually operated by SAK 40 L / 70-315, with SAK40-70 power drives L / 350-40 and later SAK 70 L / 520-80 with power drives supply of ammunition). An experienced melee weapon system (HSBC), known as the Sea Trinity, appeared at the end of the XNUMXs. A built-in fire control system was added to this concept, along with new high-explosive high-explosive fragmentation ammunition.
The Sea Trinity system has not achieved much success in the market for SBBC, but. however, it caused the upgraded 40-mm Mk 3 gun mount in the 1994 year. At the same time, Bofors developed the 40P 3P (Pre-fragmented, Programmable, Proximity-fuzed X-ray Intelligent Ammunition, prefragmented, programmable, with a proximity fuse) of a new generation.
In 60, Bofors licensed the production of the L / 40 70-mm cannon to the Italian company Breda. Breda (later became part of Oto Melara, which is in turn in Finmeccanica) continued to develop a series of single-barreled and double-barreled 40-mm naval guns, which became competitors to the BAE Systems Bofors gun range. Single Fast Forty and Twin 40 L / 70 Compact are manufactured today.
There is no doubt that 40-mm weapons retain greater attractiveness for the maritime community, offering significantly longer ranges and increased lethal effects in anti-aircraft and anti-ship roles compared to 30-mm weapons. However, in recent years, manufacturers have come to realize that existing 40-mm units are just too big, too heavy and too expensive to be installed on small vessels. This prevented them from entering the growing market of patrol and guard patrols, military police courts, minesweepers, etc. Shipyards and / or end-users instead chose automatic or remotely controlled stabilized small-caliber weapons systems with single 25-mm or 30-mm guns.
The same characteristics - reduced weight, size and cost - are equally suitable for another market segment: auxiliary gun systems for larger warships. Again, 25-mm and 30-mm single-bar installations dominate here.
As a result, BAE Systems Bofors and Oto Melara — the two main competing players in this market — have invested heavily in developing X / NUMX-mm L / 40 installations of a non-penetrating deck type, which from the very beginning were created with a view to meeting the needs of a compact installation reduced weight and lower cost. Each company is confident that the characteristics and capabilities of its technical solution will convince fleets to "increase firepower to 70 mm" in the coming years.
40 Development Mk 4
BAE Systems Weapon Systems - Sweden financed the development of its Bofors 2009 Mk 40 installation in 4 with the aim of providing small coastal patrol boats and coastal patrol ships for light, compact and inexpensive universal weapon systems. From the outset, the task was to reduce the mass of the volume and cost of 30-40% compared to the Mk 3. “And indeed, it turned out better than it was,” said Denny Petersen, head of ship systems sales at BAE Systems Bofors. “We reduced the cost and mass by about 50%, and reduced the volume by about 40%.”
Compared with its predecessor, the Mk 3, the subsequent Mk 4 model has been significantly improved to reduce the weight to less than 2500 kg (including 100 ammunition ready-made shots). To achieve this, the Swedish Army Combat Vehicle 90 (CV 90) armored vehicles took new swing parts of the gun, replaced electric drives with mixed electrohydraulic, and fully digital modular architecture was also integrated. In addition, BAE Systems worked closely with its main suppliers, seeking to reduce the cost and create a more technological design, while maintaining the characteristics of the Mk 3.
One small, but nonetheless, an important element of the new model was the support ring of the gun. “The diameter of the support ring is Mk 3 900 mm,” continued Petersen. - At Mk 4, we increased the diameter to 1850 mm. In this case, the recoil forces are distributed over a larger bearing surface. "
Although the Bofors 40 Mk 4 is designed to be able to fire different 40-mm ammunition and switch between two different types of firing, nevertheless BAE Systems is pushing its six-mode 3P programmable projectile. “We are not saying that you need an 100P projectile for each target on 3%. A balance is needed in this case, ”said Michael Branting, head of regional sales at BAE Systems Bofors.
However, he added: “What gives you a 3P projectile ... of course flexibility; It can have an optimized effect on various targets in the air, on the water and on the shore. In addition, this is a very reliable, fully proven solution, in service with 90-s. We are proud of what we have done in this direction. ”
The 3P projectile is programmed in the trunk according to the type of threat and the type of damage, in order to optimize the impact on the target, it can be set to any of six different modes: controlled remote mode for air defense; controlled remote mode with impact priority (large air targets); time mode (small, high-speed, maneuverable surface targets and hidden targets on the shore); shock mode for firing surface targets; armor-piercing mode for armored surface targets; and the default is remote mode.
In addition, the adoption of the 3P ammunition streamlines a number of different types required, ultimately reducing logistics and storage costs.
40-mm gun mount Bofors m / 48 L / 70 aboard the Swedish minesweepers M73 Koster and M76 Ven (visit to St. Petersburg in the summer of 2013 of the year). BAE Systems seeks to return 40-mm artillery to the small craft market
The 40 Mk 4 gun has a technical rate of fire up to 300 shots / min; the operator can select any rate of fire from 30 to 300 shots, not limited to single and fully automatic modes
The main store 40 Mk 4 contains 30 projectiles. The intermediate store, located at the bottom of the installation, also contains 70 shots, thus, the ammunition load comprises a total of 100 shots. Loading shells from the intermediate store to the main store is fully automated, in turn, the intermediate store can be charged from under the deck. The spent cartridges are thrown forward.
“The number of finished ammunition reflects our desire to reduce the mass and cost of the gun,” continued Petersen. - Also, for the use of 3P ammunition, our simulation shows that you only have five or six projectiles to hit the target. Therefore, 30 shots will be enough to hit several targets ... and we believe that rarely will you need more. However, we have the ability to modify the gun if the customer wants more ready shots. The Mk 4 is a modular weapon and we have the ability to implement other store designs if someone wants a larger main store. ”
The 40 Mk 4 gun has a technical rate of fire up to 300 shots per minute; the operator can choose any rate of fire between 30 and 300 shots per minute instead of being limited to single or automatic modes.
Arms control is usually carried out by a gyro-stabilized fire control system (located outside the artillery unit) via a digital interface. However, there is also the possibility of local control when using a camera mounted on a gun as a sight.
Another change implemented as part of the 40 mm Mk 4 development process is a more compact tower with a modified shape. BAE Systems has studied the options for refining the tower for ships with very low visibility. “We have“ invisible ”structures in the drawings, which have a small effective reflection area,” confirmed Petersen. “We have already presented draft towers with a small reflection area for our 57 Mk 3 cannon.”
BAE Systems began ground-based tests of the Bofors 40 Mk 4 prototype in the 2011 year, conducting a total of four rounds of tests. In September, 2012, they ended in a series of control shooting, giving the opportunity to begin sea trials on board the Swedish patrol boat Jagaren.
The sighting tests, which actually marked the culmination of the development of the Mk 4, were carried out from a Jagaren boat in October 2012 in the waters north of Gothenburg. Since the 40 Mk 4 installation was not connected to the boat’s fire control system (it was outdated with an analog system), its own gyrostabilization was used. About 60 shells were fired, mainly to check the feed mechanism and stabilization.
Following the completion of development, BAE Systems Bofors has stepped up its marketing activities regarding sales of 40 Mk 4 fleetsand shipyards. “Our main focus is on traditional users of the 40mm gun.”
Brazil, as a long-time user of Bofors 40-mm installations, was announced in May 2015 of the year as the launch customer of the 40 Mk 4. Under the contract with the Brazilian fleet, BAE Systems Weapon Systems - Sweden will manufacture five systems for patrol vessels of the class Macae. In this system, the 40 Mk 4 artillery mount will be docked with the ARES ATHENA optical-electronic designator and the SICONTA ship control system.
As Branting noted, the Brazilian fleet has already evaluated the capabilities of the Mk 4 cannon directly. “We installed our 40 Mk 4 prototype on a Grajau NPa Guapore class patrol boat from January to September 2014, replacing the existing SAK 40 L / 70-350 gun. This enabled the Brazilian fleet to conduct a thorough user assessment, including firing. ”
“We made a transitional support to install the gun on the ship,” added Petersen. - We have demonstrated this option for cases where customers want to re-equip ".
For the Brazilian order began production planning with subsequent sales. "The physical assembly will begin in the second half of the 2016 year, and deliveries will start at the beginning of the 2017 year."
“We work with ARES from Rio de Janeiro,” added Branting. - They will participate in the manufacture of systems and in putting them into operation in their own country. We also plan to work with them as a service and maintenance partner. ”
Brazilian fleet evaluated the 40 prototype Mk 4 on the NPa Guapore patrol vessel in January-September 2014
Debuts Forty Light
In response to the launch of the Mk 40 4 system on the market, also sensing the emergence of a market for a lighter smaller X / NUMX mm L / 40 ship cannon, suitable for ships with a smaller displacement, Oto Melara released information on the work on installing Forty Light and the corresponding programmable 70-mm remote-fused ammunition. The company introduced the 2015: 40 scale model at IDEX 1 in Abu Dhabi, and its development manager, Janbatista, Leones, spoke about the concept of a new gun system.
Oto Melara’s Twin 40L70 Twin Artillery Unit remains in production, but is considered too large and expensive for the expanding market for small craft.
“We reuse much of our“ classic ”40-mm technology regarding guns and ammunition feeds, while at the same time adapting mechanical structures, electric drives, electronics and software from the existing MARLIN 30 gun mount,” says Leonesio. - Our goal is to achieve a mass of installation without ammunition less than 1900 kg, and in the full configuration of the remote control. The idea is that any weapon capable of integrating into MARLIN could also be integrated into Forty Light. ”
“This is not just a gun, this is a system. We view our new 40-mm ammunition as integral to Forty Light, as we have the advantage of reducing the number of ammunition by one loss. This means that you need less ammunition, a smaller magazine in the system and, as a result, a construction with a smaller size and weight. ”
“In addition, we are considering Forty Light as an addition to our 40-mm armament product line suitable for small platforms. We will continue to offer Fast Forty and Twin 40L70 along with Forty Light. ”
From the point of view of Leonesio, “the development of surface threats, be it pirates, terrorists, or the flotilla of small boats, justifies the installation of fleets of weapons, giving significant superiority. In the past, asymmetric threats were limited to jet grenades and weapons small gauges up to 12,7-mm. In this case, the 30-mm gun was enough. "
He further continued: “But we believe that the threats continue to evolve and this leads to the need to have more lethal weapons with an increased maximum valid range. Therefore, simultaneously with the supply of 30-mm guns, we are currently striving to move the market to 40-mm systems. It is important to consider ammunition. The increase in mass of the 40-mm high-explosive projectile compared to 30-mm is significant, although the difference in the cost of the shot is not so significant ... but when we compare a programmable projectile with a remote fuse, we believe that 40 mm has important advantages regarding asymmetric threats. "
Shipborne gunnery BAE Systems Bofors 40 Mk 4
Oto Melara's Forty Light design philosophy reuses components from the existing product line, including the same 40 L / 70 gun already used in the Fast Forty installation.
It is clear that the company Oto Melara seeks to keep up with BAE Systems Bofors on the use of ammunition such as 3P. This led Oto Melara to develop a new ammunition with ready-hit elements and an integrated new 4A40 OM intelligent fuse. The 4A40 OM4 fuse is based on the 4AP fuse, previously developed for 76 mm, 127 mm and 155 mm guns. It has four modes of operation: remote mode; controlled remote mode; time-delayed; and shock / self-destruct. The distance to the target is calculated using a low-noise microwave sensor.
"Programming of the projectile is contactless, using a wireless channel," added Leonesio. “The fuse itself works from a battery activated at the moment of the shot.”
The design principles of Oto Melara for its Forty Light installation were to maximize the use of components from the existing product line. For example, the same 40 L / 70 gun was used with a 300 gunfire per minute rate, which is already installed in a single Fast Forty installation. However, the appearance of the 4A40 OM programmable shot required a correspondingly higher level of integration between the barrel / breech and the dual ammunition system. “Full integration between the high-rate gun, automatic loader and modern programmable ammunition allows the system to hit a large number of targets efficiently and accurately,” said Leonesio. “Also, the servos of our system have a very fast response. This is very important when firing simultaneously on several quickly moving surface targets. "
One of the key distinguishing features of the Forty Light system is the number of ammunition ready for firing. Although the competing 40-mm system Mk 4 has more ammunition, but the company Oto Melara indicate that there are only 30 pieces of finished shots. “We have a different philosophy,” continued Leonesio. “We designed a cannon with 72 ready shots, shells are fed from two separate containers in a magazine with a capacity of 36 shots each. The selective ammunition mechanism allows the operator to switch between programmed and conventional ammunition. "
“A large store with ready-made shots allows you to either open long lines without having to stop and reload, or have a larger number of short lines. Our simulation has determined that it takes from five to eight rounds to target. ”
The cannon assembly and ammunition containers are placed in a compact, with a low effective reflection area (EPO) tower. “We decided to abandon the traditional turret and instead designed a turret made of carbon composite material. This is important both for further weight reduction and providing additional structural flexibility if the customer really wants more shells in the gun mount. ”
The volume, mass and power consumption are basically the same as those of an artillery unit with a 30 caliber gun. Another feature of the Forty Light system, which Oto Melara considers to be a significant advantage, is its “intuitive serviceability”. “The service personnel has easy access through the side hatches to the electronics and gearboxes for vertical and horizontal movement. There is also easy access through the hatch above the swinging parts to the rear of the gun for maintenance or access to the projectile box for loading or reloading. We also considered the option of reloading the implement from under the deck when the swinging parts of the carriage are raised to 90 °. ”
Oto Melara offers three different Forty Light options that correspond to alternative fire control concepts: Type A is a fully remote control option integrated into a battle management system; a coaxial high-resolution daytime video camera is integrated into the Type B variant in order to obtain stand-by autonomous mode; Type C is a fully autonomous configuration that includes its own fire control system based on an optical-electronic station with a day camera, a cooled thermal imager and an eye-safe laser range finder.
Oto Melara is currently working on an experienced Forty Light model. The integration of the mechanical design with servo drives was to be completed in March 2016 of the year, and the first sighting tests are scheduled to begin before July of the same year (trapped in the Oto Melara plant in Brescia). In the second half of the year, tests will be conducted at the firing range.
“We have to integrate between the cannon, the ammunition and the whole structure,” Leccio said. - We plan to complete the qualification by the end of 2016. The integration of the micro fire control system, which is part of the Type C configuration, is carried out in parallel. The optoelectronic station is the same as the MARLIN system. As a standard, we offer our own daytime camera, Sagem infrared camera and a laser rangefinder from either Thales or Vectronix, but we can install any systems as desired by the customer. ”
Qualification of the new 40-mm programmable ammunition will follow about a year after qualifying the Forty Light gun mount. “At the end of 2015, we made the initial batch of 30 fuses, which will allow us to begin integrating the programmer and the fuse itself,” finished Leonesio. “We expect to finish qualifying by the end of 2017 of the year.”
Forty Light ship gunnery has a light turret with low EPO
Competing 40-mm L / 70 light artillery, currently being developed by BAE Systems and Oto Melara, will allow small ships up to 25 meters in length to gain new capabilities in combating existing and future threats. Time will tell whether the self-confidence of both companies will allow dividends in this growing segment of the market in the coming years.