September 09, 2013
The reorganization of BAE Systems' British munitions factories, facilitated by the Munitions Acquisition Supply Solution (MASS) contract with the U.K. Defense Ministry, is nearly complete.
The Radway Green plant, which produces small-arms munitions, has been transformed, and new lines have been built. Savings are being realized from automation and other production efficiencies that the agreement mandates.
MASS, signed in 2008, is a 15-year contract. It assures the ministry of general munitions supplies and a price ceiling for 10 years. BAE agreed to upgrade factories and, in turn, is assured of sales and growth.
Against this backdrop, the timing of the maturation of one long-term development project is propitious. The Anglo-French cased telescoped armament system (CTAS) was announced in 1994, when the partners were GIAT and Royal Ordnance. Today, CTA International is a 50/50 partnership between successors BAE and Nexter, and its innovative cannon and shell designs have completed a qualification milestone.
“Qualification is split into three phases,” says David Coughtrie, CTAI's business director. “We've done all the trials and supplied the trial reports to the Defense Ministry and to DGA (the French procurement agency).
“After they come out with their view, we will issue a certificate of design, saying we are qualified for the cannon and armor-piercing and target-practice rounds. The second phase is the point-detonating general-purpose round, and we are delivering rounds into trials for that. The third phase will qualify the airburst round.”
The CTA design limits the footprint of the cannon inside a vehicle, minimizes recoil and allows for different-purpose rounds to be fed as needed into the gun. This means a 40-mm gun can be fielded on platforms that would otherwise be limited to smaller calibers and—without the case telescoped design—fewer rounds of ammunition.