United Defense Industries achieved an industry first recently when it successfully fired a 120mm Electrothermal Chemical (ETC) gun from a hybrid electric drive combat vehicle.
This effort, using a fully integrated 100kJ pulse power system, was accomplished through a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement with the US Army's Armament Research Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC). ARDEC is the Army's center of excellence for armament systems development.
"This series of tests demonstrated that pulse power can be safely integrated into a combat vehicle," said Brad Goodell, Advanced Armaments Program Manager at United Defense.
"Both ETC and conventional rounds were fired in the same salvo merely by changing round selection through a fire control command."
United Defense developed an autoloader that successfully loaded and ejected rounds and stub cases from the vehicle. Stub cases are steel cases that transport and hold the propellant.
The fully automatic breech power connection, utilized in the demonstration, was designed such that electricity reached only the propellant, but not any other part of the cannon or vehicle.
According to industry experts, ETC technology can significantly enhance accuracy of direct fire weapons, using pulsed power in conjunction with modified, fielded weapon systems and ammunition.
The modification to the ammunition requires replacing the conventional igniter within the round with a plasma igniter. Plasma ignition significantly reduces the variations in projectile exit times.
This increase in ignition control allows plasma ignition to become the critical element of an advanced fire control capability called "precision aiming."
Precision aiming uses gun muzzle position sensors, advanced fire control algorithms, and plasma ignition to virtually eliminate gun pointing error. Reduction in pointing error increases accuracy, especially when the vehicle is moving and the pointing errors dominate.
Vehicle survivability is also enhanced when using this ETC technology because engagements can be at longer range, and at higher cross country speeds. This technology has a broad range of applications, including applications to existing and future direct fire weapons platforms.
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Army Boosts Boeing's Future Combat Program Value By Up To $6.4 Billion
St. Louis (SPX) Aug 17, 2004
Boeing and the U.S. Army signed an agreement August 7, to provide up to $6.4 billion in additional funding for the System Development and Demonstration (SDD) phase of the Future Combat Systems (FCS) program.
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