New round for M1 Abrams main gun


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Preacherman
August 19, 2005, 12:55 AM
From National Defence magazine (http://www.nationaldefensemagazine.org/issues/2005/sep/uf-army_developing.htm):

September 2005

Army Developing Advanced Ammo for Abrams Tank

By Joe Pappalardo

To be more useful in urban battlefields, the Army’s main battle tank needs to be armed with advanced multipurpose rounds that can be adapted for use against different types of targets, officials said.

“Overall, that is where we need to be going,” said Army Col. Mark Rider, project manager for maneuver ammunition systems.


http://www.nationaldefensemagazine.org/issues/2005/sep/Images/p16.jpg


“Kinetic-energy rounds are being sent to the rear,” Rider noted. “From a logistics and operational standpoint, our tankers have to have the ability to … make them multipurpose. There will be fewer specialty rounds.”

As the war in Iraq shifted from limited armor engagements to counter-insurgency, tank units rediscovered their roles in urban combat. Current ammunition, however, is better suited to defeat hordes of Cold War-era Soviet tanks, rather than insurgent guerillas dug into houses and bunkers. A multipurpose round would offer tankers flexibility to target not only armored vehicles but also foot soldiers or light trucks, even if they are shielded by a rock wall or within a fortified concrete shelter.

The Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center at Picatinny Arsenal, N.J., is developing line-of-sight multipurpose (LOS-MP) munitions that would replace four rounds currently used in Army and Marine Corps tanks.

The new round uses a fragmenting warhead and programmable fuses that can be set for either point-detonation against hard targets or for airburst, to strike soft targets. The fuse settings are controlled via datalink and operated by the tank crew with a mouse click.

“One size fits all—that’s the best way to put it,” said Ernie Logsdon, division chief of the Munitions Systems & Technology Directorate at Picatinny.

The LOS-MP program started in 2004. “I think the urban tank experience in Iraq emphasizes the need for this round, especially for the Abrams tank, although the request did not start this way,” Logsdon said, explaining that the program was designated originally for the Future Combat System’s mounted combat vehicle, which is not scheduled to enter service until at least 2014. The Army decided to accelerate the development of LOS-MP, so it can be fired from Abrams tanks.

If funded to completion, the LOS-MP would replace the M830, M830A1 and M908, as well as the just-released M1028 canister round.

The M830A1 is a high explosive shot with a limited antipersonnel component, and tank crews must flick a switch manually for the round to be used against enemy helicopters. All the other current Abrams rounds are what the Army calls “dumb bullets.”

The M908 was initially developed in 1996 to destroy obstacles, such as bunkers. The round penetrates concrete before detonating.

The M1028 canister round has only recently been available to Army and Marine tank crews in Iraq. The round, fired from the main cannon, contains tungsten balls that fan out into a 500-meter lethal shotgun blast.

In January, General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems was awarded a $5.8 million contract for low-rate production of 3,600 M1028 rounds. The company will assemble the projectiles at its facility in Red Lion, Pa.

Although new, this canister would be replaced, along with its three brethren, by a single multipurpose round. The Maneuver Armament Systems and ARDEC together are designing two different versions; the full-bore XM1069 and the sabot XM1068.

The full bore is more lethal at close ranges, while the sabot has a smaller diameter, fewer explosives and better reach.

“If the user requirements come in and they want a longer range, we’ll go with the 1068,” said Logsdon. He said both versions of the multipurpose round offered as good or better lethality as the rounds they would replace.

LOS-MP would not be the preferred munition for direct tank-on-tank battles. Kinetic energy rounds would be loaded for such an engagement, according to Pete Cardell, deputy product manager for maneuver ammunition.

There are no tungsten balls or other projectiles in LOS-MP. Instead, the warhead is designed to come apart into whirling chunks of shrapnel when it is set to the airburst mode. Unlike the current canister, it would be lethal and accurate at long range.

One eager customer for new types of ammunition is the Marine Corps, which has operated the 70-ton Abrams since the early 1990s. Marines have been involved in the development of both the canister round and LOS-MP, Lodson said.

Having a multipurpose round in the arsenal has many benefits, boosters at ARDEC said. The logistical footprint of a multipurpose muniton is smaller and easier to track in the transportation cycle. A successful LOS-MP would “wipe the logistics burden away. We’d be going from five rounds to two,” Logsdon said.

Other advantages come in the procurement process. By consolidating the rounds, the military would increase the size of the munitions orders. In theory, that would lower the price per round.

Since the tanks only hold 40 rounds, having more flexibility is vital, Logsdon added. “You have to figure out the percentage before the fight,” he said. “With LOS-MP you have more options from one round … And you have greater lethality than with the current set.”

If funded for the 2008 fiscal year, the munition could be fielded as early as 2010 or 2011, he said. The program is vying against other projects for funds, Cardell said. “There’s a lot of competition.”

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Gordy Wesen
August 19, 2005, 02:33 AM
Are the current high density rounds causing radiation problems for the troops or civilians?

Joejojoba111
August 19, 2005, 03:20 AM
The current high-density rounds would penetrate every wall of every building in a straight line through a town, spraying a lethal cone of chunks of those walls into every room it passed through.

Koobuh
August 19, 2005, 04:49 AM
>_<

Depleted uranium is not much more radioactive than granite.
The big problem with using DU rounds is airborne DU, caused when a round impacts a solid surface. DU is pyrophoric, meaning it will burn at high pressure (such as during a high-velocity impact), and becomes dust.
Most of this dust settles into the ground, but some will become airborne, and becomes a heavy metal risk analogous to lead, cadmium, etc.

The only reason this nonsense about 'DU is radioactive and causes cancer' came about was Sadaam carting every young cancer patient his thugs could find to the hospitals in Baghdad to suffer in front of Western reporters, coupled with the basic ignorance of most people.

bogie
August 19, 2005, 09:02 AM
That, and a lot of the "any war is bad, and any war the U.S. is in is worse" folks kneejerk really hard at any mention of uranium. By the time some of these folks get through with it, coupling in a bit of basic ignorance, it sounds like there're little miniature mushroom clouds all over Baghdad.

Gordy Wesen
August 19, 2005, 12:32 PM
thanks.

Third_Rail
August 19, 2005, 12:55 PM
$1,600 or so a shot. Better be good stuff.

DelayedReaction
August 19, 2005, 01:03 PM
2012? I hope by that time we're out of there.

I have a lot of trouble seeing how tanks are well suited for urban insurgent warfare. I mean, although they're extremely hard to kill and can unleash an unholy amount of firepower, they also destroy the ground they tread on and have limited manueverability. Granted they can usually just run through whatever happens to be in their way, but it seems like using a tank in this situation is analogous to using a sledgehammer to swat a fly.

Vern Humphrey
August 19, 2005, 01:03 PM
Depleted uranium is not much more radioactive than granite.
The big problem with using DU rounds is airborne DU, caused when a round impacts a solid surface. DU is pyrophoric, meaning it will burn at high pressure (such as during a high-velocity impact), and becomes dust.
Most of this dust settles into the ground, but some will become airborne, and becomes a heavy metal risk analogous to lead, cadmium, etc.

The only reason this nonsense about 'DU is radioactive and causes cancer' came about was Sadaam carting every young cancer patient his thugs could find to the hospitals in Baghdad to suffer in front of Western reporters, coupled with the basic ignorance of most people.

Thank you.

I worked a project for the Army Chemical Center and School in the mid-90s and as a contract add-on developed the manual for dealing with DU. The idea that DU is somehow a radiation hazard is one that is hard to put down.

As you say, the primary hazard from DU is heavy metal poisoning, similar to lead or mercury, from the ash. Troops working around knocked-out vehicles need to be aware of this, and wear masks. They also need to wash thoroughly before eating or drinking.

Sam
August 19, 2005, 01:16 PM
There is a valid need for a decent he round for the Abrams, but i can't see how these will make a good replacement for cannister. Don't think, they can make a fuze setup fast enough, or sensitive enough to make that work, then there is the arming distance problem. Just my dimes worth

Sam

Yanus
August 19, 2005, 01:23 PM
Personally, I'd like to see some of the older model tanks retrofitted as flame tanks, similar to the ones used in WWII in the Pacific. They would make a helluva urban combat vehicle!......... :evil:

Yanus

scout26
August 19, 2005, 01:36 PM
Yep, I always said that getting rid of HEP and Beehive rounds were a mistake. Sometimes you need to have different tools in the toolbox.

Joejojoba111
August 19, 2005, 02:28 PM
"Don't think, they can make a fuze setup fast enough, or sensitive enough to make that work, then there is the arming distance problem. Just my dimes worth"

What about the xm25? If a 25mm high velocity grenade launcher with a small laser range finder can point detonate a grenade +- 5m, why can't a big stable platform with a much better range finder and a more accurate gun? Sure, they can't count revolutions in this case, but they could measure distance and calculate time of flight, for a fuze.

Sactown
August 19, 2005, 03:09 PM
Wow, what's old is new again. Load up the grape shot!!!

ARGarrison
August 19, 2005, 03:14 PM
I'll second what Scout26 said.

I'll also through out the idea that we (the US of A) need a cheap HE missile or even rocket that can be fired from an ordanary TOW launcher. Save the expensive TOW III missiles for armor and use a HE warhead as a bunker buster.

No_Brakes23
August 19, 2005, 06:37 PM
$1,600 or so a shot. Better be good stuff. Nah, just get some reloading dies, I am sure you can reload it yourself for cheaper.

Picking up spent brass is a PITA, though :D

STW
August 19, 2005, 07:04 PM
...what's old is new again. Load up the grape shot

If they bring back chain shot you can really get excited.

Burt Blade
August 19, 2005, 07:15 PM
"Depleted Uranium" (DU) is Uranium 238. This is the most common isotope of Uranium found in ore. It is too stable to be used as nuclear fuel or explosive. It is only slightly radioactive, and is safe to handle. The far less common Uranium 235 is sufficiently unstable to make good fissile material, for bomb or reactor. Separating these two nearly identical materials is quite a task. "Highly enriched" Uranium, aka "weapons grade", is Uranium with much of the U238 removed.

That leftover U238 is what we use to make the super-effective M-1 tank gun ammo. It is denser than lead, and rather hard. When it hits a tank (or anything else) at 5000 feet per second, the results are ... catastrophic. U238 also, as previously mentioned, burns when pulverized at high temperature and pressure, like when it passes through a Soviet made T-72 tank. The burning bits ignite anything flammable, like tank fuel or main gun ammunition, adding more "kablooey" potential.

There is another source for DU / U238. When you reprocess spent enriched-uranium reactor fuel, U238 is one of the leftover materials. Spent reactor core fuel is absolutely _filthy_ with all sorts of high-level radioactives. You can chemically separate some of the components, like the oh-so-useful Plutonium. What is left has a fair percentage of U238.

It is my understanding that the Soviet Union was using reprocessed nuclear core material as a source of depleted Uranium for some of its tank ammunition. _That_ stuff would not be something I would want to be near (especially with the legendary Soviet quality control). The shattered remains of such ammunition would be a major hazard to the locals.


The A-10 "warthog" attack aircraft also uses DU in its 30mm cannon.

bigun15
August 19, 2005, 07:18 PM
The round, fired from the main cannon, contains tungsten balls that fan out into a 500-meter lethal shotgun blast.

I'd hate to duck hunt with those guys. They'd get everything.

p35
August 19, 2005, 07:19 PM
I'm trying to imagine using a mouse and monitor inside an M-1. Doesn't compute somehow :D

mussi
August 19, 2005, 08:15 PM
The Swiss Army long since has beehive rounds, HE-FRAG, and of course, the uber-evil HE-'soucoupe' round (I forgot the offical designation, I'm not a tanker), which disperses ten projectiles with the explosive power of about 3 times a hand grenade over a target for it's 120mm Rheinmetall gun on the Leo 2.

Bee-hive is reputed to be quite good against low-flying aircraft.

Joejojoba111
August 19, 2005, 08:26 PM
...If they can convince the aircraft to stay still... Otherwise they need a new FCS.

sumpnz
August 19, 2005, 08:36 PM
What's also pretty cool are the extended range guided projectiles being developed for both arty and tanks. They stick a rocket motor in the back of the shell (this ignites after leaving the barrel), a guidance computer in the front, and add some fins and such. Quite the challange to get a guidance system to still work after the launch shocks.

Crosshair
August 19, 2005, 09:19 PM
Why not just bring in the Bradlys. That 25mm autocannon has to be better against human targets, plus you can shot through walls still.

No_Brakes23
August 19, 2005, 09:51 PM
Not only that Crosshairs, but you can get 25mm DU ammo as well. The AV-8B uses that, (Loaded and unloaded more DU than I care to remember.)

Sam
August 19, 2005, 10:40 PM
Joejojoba111,
The XM 25 is an XM as in eXperimental Model. Not standardized yet and I'll bet it won't be. The manufacturer claims +- 5yards and that isn't good enough by a long shot. Haven't seen any certified testing on it and bet I won't for quite some time. +-5 is a 10 yard margin and that isnt really close enough for a real grenade to work well and that puny 25monkey measurement thing would be useless with a 10 yard margin. How much trash do you think you could get into an inch projectile? Cannister on the other hand is real handy stuff. Don't know if I'd want my back scratched with this M1069/69 stuff.

Sam

NMshooter
August 20, 2005, 12:44 AM
Guess the Army canned the replacement Combat Engineer Vehicle too soon...

165mm HEP-T sounds more effective vs. buildings than anything out of a 120mm.

coonan357
August 21, 2005, 04:02 AM
so basically what they are saying is we now are developing is a supersize shotgun shell for a tank??? and it costs 1600 a shot ?? wonder if winchester already sells "AA" shells in 105 and being there tungsten ,safe for waterfowl too. hmm I have somepesky canuk geese over here .... :what: :evil: :evil:

PCGS65
August 21, 2005, 04:25 AM
You guys are right. Depleted urainium is very low radioactivity. You will receive more radiation from a day at the beach. I think when most people hear the word "urainium" the automatic assumption is a lethal dose of radiation. Not true about DU.

Sam
August 21, 2005, 08:42 AM
Coonan,
What they are doing is replacing the current cannister(shotgun shell) and the current excuse for HE with a dual purpose round.
My position is that the dual purpose item cannot replace cannister (shotgun shell).

Sam

Battlespace
August 21, 2005, 09:31 AM
I will not attempt to answer all the questions your responses have evoked. For information on the Abrams one of the best commercially available web pages is: http://www.fprado.com/armorsite/abrams.htm They answer most of the questions the comments here have generated and put to rest many of the urban legends I have read in the past 20 or so minutes.

As far as addressing some of the issues concerning ammunition. I will let you all use your imaginations. Ammunition performance characteristics are some of our best kept secrets and will remain so if I have anything to say about it. Just rest assured that $1600 for a round of 120mm ammunition is money well spent if you happen to be a member of the crew that is facing the BGs in Iraq, better still if your loved one happens to be a member of that tank crew.

I don't know the engineering qualifications of any of the posters to this thread, but I do know most of the engineers who are developing these rounds and they have great pride in their work. I have the second .50 BMG SLAP round ever made on my desk where I work. It was a gift from an engineer who developed it at Picatinny Arsenal, NJ. The pride he showed in it was something to see.

If you want to know my qualifications in this area look at my user name.

Sam
August 21, 2005, 12:38 PM
I don't care if those rounds cost $5600 a piece. Our guys deserve the best we can make. I just hope we can make this 1068/9 item so there is no diminishment of any capability.

SAm

Bruce H
August 21, 2005, 01:52 PM
Reading this I'm reminded of a line fron a book. The topic was military aircraft and their cost. The line was five gee whiz killing machines a year won't do us any good. We need rounds that are cheap to produce. Having one round that can do several jobs can be a round that doesn't do anything particularly well. Having a round that can be fused for air burst against soft targets and delayed to drop a house on others would be very handy.

JonnyB
August 22, 2005, 01:04 PM
Come spring, my younger son will likely be travelling with Armor. He's a Forward Observer (13F) for the Minnesota NG, in the artillery. Last I heard, he'll probably be with the Armor guys, while the arty is some miles behind/away.

If the per-round cost is 16 *thousand* dollars, and they need 500 or a million of them to bring him back safely to his wife, his son, his mother and to me, it's a bargain!

JB

Tory
August 22, 2005, 04:04 PM
The Second World War saw the development of some seriously complicated, sophisticated weapons systems and I don't mean just the obvious, like the atom bombs, Norden bombsights or B-29's (or Me 262's, Heinkel 162's or the V1and V2 rockets or the Long Lance torpedo, to give The Other Side it's due).

Radar was one major breakthrough; the application of that technology to artillery fuses (a largely American contribution) was another, if not widely known. It increased the kill rate against Japanese aircraft from 1600 shells per kill to a comparatively mere 400 shells per kill. The fuse was SO effective, the US Navy forbade its use over land, for fear a dud would fall into enemy hands.

When its use over land WAS finally allowed, it permitted an entire artillery barrage to be precisely airbursted over enemy troop positions, saturating the target area with projectiles and shattering the enemy's combat effectiveness. These shells were so deadly, Gen. Patton observed that their general deployment by the world's armies would require a change in tactics.

The round being discussed on this forum is simply the next generation in the continuing evolution of "reach out and touch someone" ordnance, started by the Chinese trying to scare away demons. Let's hope that we are again the first to develop it... ;)

xdoctor
August 22, 2005, 04:09 PM
Cool. I want one.

p35
August 22, 2005, 04:19 PM
I absolutely agree that there's no such thing as too expensive to save a soldier. For the $16,000, though, I'd rather get 16 simple shells that work every time than one fancy one that duds 50% of the time because it's too complicated. The military has a tendency to deploy new weapons/systems before the bugs are worked out, and that's dangerous to soldiers too. How many died in Vietnam because their new M-16s jammed in a firefight?

Battlespace
August 22, 2005, 04:58 PM
In my year there with ten months spent in the boonies we NEVER had anyone killed or even wounded due to the M16.

Cosmoline
August 22, 2005, 05:04 PM
Load with double grape if you please.

Crosshair
August 22, 2005, 07:11 PM
I see this as a problem that is solved. Simple fact is that a 120mm cannon is not the ideal weapon in this situation. It is like trying to make an F-16 into a close air support aircraft. Yes it could be done, but something else already exists, the A-10. The ideal weapon for this is the 25mm Autocannon on the Brads. Heck, a quad 50 setup might be nice in some situations. :D

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