Military

British Army's new cannon takes its ammo on the side

British Army's new cannon take...
The new 40 mm Cased Telescoped Cannon System will be installed on British Army Ajax and Warrior (seen here) armored vehicles
The new 40 mm Cased Telescoped Cannon System will be installed on British Army Ajax and Warrior (seen here) armored vehicles
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Infographic of the new 40 mm gun
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Infographic of the new 40 mm gun
The new 40 mm Cased Telescoped Cannon System will be installed on British Army Ajax and Warrior (seen here) armored vehicles
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The new 40 mm Cased Telescoped Cannon System will be installed on British Army Ajax and Warrior (seen here) armored vehicles

The British Army has taken delivery of its first completely new cannon system in 50 years – and it loads sideways. This loading system on the new 40mm Cased Telescoped Cannon System, which was handed over to the British Ministry of Defence (MoD) in Bourges, France by CTA International (CTAI), is claimed to provide more firepower while saving space.

According to BAE Systems, which is a 50/50 partner in CTAI along with Nexter Systems, the delivery is the first of 515 40mm cannons for the British Army's Warrior and Ajax armored fighting vehicles. The new system has been in development since the 1990s and has undergone extensive testing.

The key to the new 40 mm gun is its Cased Telescoped ammunition. Instead of using traditional bullet-shaped rounds with the projectile upfront and a cannister of propellant behind, Cased Telescoped ammunition consists of a straight tube with the projectile inside the tube completely surrounded by propellant and a plug in front that provides a gas-tight seal to drag the shell along. BAE says that this gives the shell four times the power of the previous 30 mm round.

Infographic of the new 40 mm gun
Infographic of the new 40 mm gun

Currently, the Cased Telescoped rounds are available in armor piercing and training forms, but a practice tracer round, general purpose round-point penetrating, programmable airburst, and anti-aircraft rounds are under development.

As to the cannon itself, it uses a new rotating breech system, where the rounds are loaded at a 90-degree angle to the barrel, then rotated into firing position. Loading a new round ejects the spent tube outside the vehicle and the rotating breech allows for significant savings in space. The new 40 mm cannon takes up about the same space as the 30 mm it replaces, and allows more storage space for additional ammunition and more cabin space for the crew.

"This next-generation cannon has been developed through close Anglo-French collaboration and adds significantly to the capability of the UK and our NATO allies," says Minister of State for Defence Procurement Philip Dunne. "The delivery of the first cannon on our Ajax vehicles is another example of how our £178 billion investment in UK Defence is ensuring our Armed Forces have the equipment they need."

Source: BAE Systems

10 comments
EricDoerr
The rotating breech concept closely resembles the H&K G11 assault rifle.
Stephen Real
40 mm cannon seems like over kill to me. Wow! One serious tank there fellas. Get the right team on that one...look out!
Stephen N Russell
Lisc & have some for the US Army & MC alone to use, nice. Love to see in a M1A1 tank. Really save space for the crew.
DavidAllender
A 40MM cannon is pretty good to shoot at planes, but what about Armour? Can it penetrate amour plating found in Personnel carriers and tanks? If not, what good is it?
JasonTan
EricDoerr: Snap!!! Reminds me of the G11 rifle too, although it seems to have a case for the round. 40mm allows for a far more flexible range of natures. 40mm airburst should be waaaaay better on soft targets - the kind of targets we've been shooting at for the last 10 years or so, than 30mm. I wonder how the airburst is fused?
MartinHarding
DavidAllender: If an IFV like a Warrior is in a shootout with a tank, something's gone wrong - that 40mm cannon will be designed to defeat the armour on other IFVs and light armoured vehicles. That said, though, the 30mm RARDEN currently equipped on the Warrior fires an APDS round that reportedly had enough punch to slice through the side or rear armour of a tank if the Warrior caught the tank napping, so the 40mm should have no problems at all in that respect.
riczero-b
This would have no logistic commonality with the other NATO partners except France. If we`re taking risks why not go further and fit an unmanned turret? It`s also paired with the 7.62 chain gun developed and praised by the US but not adopted by them . Hmmm...
JeremySanders
No steel industry, no war.
Brian H
Chinese knockoff coming in: ..9, ..8, 7....
Recon7
Its been in development since the 1990's and STILL no HE or HEDP rounds? Pretty lame for a vehicle supporting Infantry.