What made CTA International (CTAI) develop a 40mm medium-calibre weapon and suite of ammunition?

Anna Barba: CTAI conducted analysis on the full spectrum of calibres and concluded that 40mm cased telescoped was the optimal size to provide greater performance to meet future threats, as well as the compactness needed to fit into combat vehicles without adding weight but reducing space. Our cased telescoped (CT) weapon achieves this perfectly and this decision has been supported through its selection by the UK and French Armed Forces as their future medium-calibre weapon of choice.

The CTAS weapon design uses an unconventional breach and chamber configuration. What advantages does this bring?

Our CTAS weapon's revolutionary design feeds the ammunition into the weapon chamber from the side. Unlike conventional weapons, our chamber is centred on the trunnion centreline and rotates the round into the firing position. This means the gun is very compact with minimal intrusion into the turret space.

The advantages of this include more space to add other essential equipment; it also provides smaller swept volume allowing CTAS to achieve higher gun elevations (up to 75°) and this in turn allows turret designs to have a much lower profile (height), and hence have lower observability and greater survivability.

How does the CTAS ammunition-handling system differ from conventional weapons and what are the benefits?

CT ammunition has been designed to be compact, and easy to store and handle. The linkless carousel-style ammunitionhandling system (AHS) can store multiple types of the ready-to-fire ammunition within the magazine at any time. This allows the operator the ability to select which type of ammunition is required depending on the mission, and also deselect and change ammunition type very quickly should the threat change.

Since CTAS does not pre-load a round in the chamber, it is easy to change ammunition type in the dynamic environment of a battlefield. CTAI can also design a bespoke AHS to suit customer requirement with regard to the quantity of rounds stored as well as the shape of the AHS to fit within the turret design.

What advantages does CT ammunition have over other medium-calibre rounds?

Our CT full-calibre ammunition provides a significantly larger projectile mass than conventional ammunition, leading to increased performance and greater terminal effect. For example, our AirBurst – Tracer round (GPR-AB-T) has a 2.2lb (or 1kg) high-explosive projectile that provides significantly increased performance with a single-shot compared with a 30mm HE round, and thus greater 'mean-area-of-effect' (ground coverage).

Similarly, the CT Point Detonating – Tracer round (GPR-PD-T) has a 1kg projectile that can penetrate 210mm of reinforced concrete at a range of 1,000m, causing single-shot results far beyond conventional 30mm weapons.

With regard to armoured battlefield threats, we developed our CT Armour-Piercing Fin Stabilised Discarding Sabot – Tracer round (APFSDS-T), to outperform and defeat future threats, including the BMP3+ type threat identified by NATO.

Our APFSDS-T round can fully perforate 140mm-thick rolled homogenous armour (RHA) at a range of 1,500m, meaning that CTAS has a higher probability of single-shot kill at a greater range.

Does the compactness of CTAS affect its stowed kill capability?

Absolutely – the greater performance available from CT ammunition means that you require fewer shots to achieve the same battlefield mission. Having increased performance and compactness increases the stowed kill capability of the vehicle so it and the and crew are able to operate self-sufficiently for longer periods without logistical support, if needed.

Is it fair to say that CT technology is relatively new and unproven?

No, this is incorrect. Our CT weapon is qualified and in full-scale production, with over 800 units currently under contract for delivery. The UK MoD has ordered over 500 units for its AJAX and Warrior Capability Sustainment Programme (WCSP) fleets and the French Armed Forces is expected to order 300 units for its JAGUAR 6×6 reconnaissance and combat vehicles. Additionally, the Belgium Armed Forces will procure JAGUAR vehicles, so three NATO nations will soon be operating CTAS weapon systems. CTAI also has a suite of six ammunition types qualified or under development.

Will we see further evolution of CT technology or has it reached the optimal position?

CTAI is already developing air defence and marinised versions of CTAS, as well as new CT ammunition types, including a Kinetic Energy Airburst round (KE-AB) to defeat threats such as swarming UAVs, helicopters and slow-moving fixed-wing aircraft. We are very keen to show the advantages CT technologies can offer in terms of power, compactness, effectiveness and through-life savings.