New US artillery project


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Preacherman
May 19, 2003, 10:21 AM
From MSNBC (http://famulus.msnbc.com/famuluscom/bizjournal05-19-010009.asp?bizj=ALB):

Benet labs works to make big guns lighter

By Matthew Phillips
The Business Review (Albany)

May. 19 — Watervliet is known as a small city that pumps out big guns.

From the 49-foot-long seacoast defense cannon used in the Spanish-American War, to the guns mounted on today's M-1 Abrams tanks, heavy guns are a specialty at the Watervliet Arsenal.

But war changes. That means work for Benet Laboratories, an Army research and design group that employs 225 at the U.S. Army munitions plant in Watervliet.

"That's the challenge, to get bigger guns on light vehicles," said Russell Fiscella, director of Benet Laboratories.

As the Army transforms itself into the mobile, technology-driven force needed to fight a new kind of world conflict, Benet Laboratories is being asked to design new weapons.

In August 2002, the Department of Defense cut funding for one of Benet Laboratories' main projects, a 40-ton, tank-like artillery piece called the Crusader. The Defense Department argued the weapon was too slow and heavy to have a place in the revamped Army.

Workers at the Watervliet Arsenal were to begin making barrels for the Crusader sometime in 2007 or 2008.

The Army has asked Benet Laboratories to work on a howitzer that will take the place of the Crusader. The new weapon will be more than 20 tons lighter. It will also be faster and more fuel efficient, said Eric Kathe, a mechanical engineer at Benet. The research group is working as a subcontractor to United Defense Industries Inc. of Arlington, Va., on that project.

Benet Laboratories is also designing a new cannon. This gun will have a double capability. Like a tank, it will be able to attack close enough to see. But it will also be equipped with a kind of rocket it can fire at targets 10 miles away. Defense contractor General Dynamics Corp. of Falls Church, Va., is the head contractor on that project.

"Now we can start engaging at much greater distance so the enemy doesn't even have a chance of engaging us," said Kathe.

Benet is still developing these weapons. Fiscella said they are scheduled to be in use by 2008. The entire lifetime of the project could be much longer.

"If things go as planned, Benet will be intimately involved with this program until 2030," Kathe said.

The weapons Benet Laboratories designed are to be made at the arsenal, Kathe said. The arsenal could start initial production of new cannons by 2006.

As part of the effort to make large guns lighter, Benet is also inventing new technologies to cut down on gun recoil. Reducing recoil cuts down on the heat and friction that wears down guns. Without traditionally high friction and heat levels, guns could be made out of lighter materials.

That experimental program is called RAVEN. The acronym stands for Rarefaction Wave Gun. On this gun, the breech is designed to open briefly when the gun has fired, allowing some gas to escape. By timing the gas release correctly, recoil can be cut down without losing distance or force on the fired round.

Fiscella said Benet Laboratories will also stay on top of other new developments in large-gun technology.

In the future those weapons might include directed-energy weapons, particle beams and lasers.

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Elmer Snerd
May 19, 2003, 12:15 PM
All they need is a bunch of .50 caliber rifles. Everybody knows that .50 caliber rifles can shoot down satellites (http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?threadid=11039).

mons meg
May 19, 2003, 12:20 PM
And where does that breech gas go? I am envisioning gun crews wearing masks...

Detritus
May 19, 2003, 06:20 PM
This gun will have a double capability. Like a tank, it will be able to attack close enough to see. But it will also be equipped with a kind of rocket it can fire at targets 10 miles away

Oh great!! someone decided to bring back the Shillelagh!!! :rolleyes: :rolleyes:
wasn't that fire sequence something like, Load, fire, wait a few seconds and Hope the Bore Evacuator clears the tube of smoldering gasses that explode if the breech is opened before they've been removed??

though hopefully if they're contemplating bringing such a system back into use then they at least THINK they've solved the above mentioned problem. and i hope they have.

blades67
May 19, 2003, 06:30 PM
They won't solve any of the old problems, they'll just re-invent them for much more of our tax dollars.:scrutiny:

MPFreeman
May 19, 2003, 09:53 PM
To vent the gas, you just need an exhaust vent with a very fast acting valve. Much like a four cycle engine, with an intake and an exhaust valve. The Cartridge/Rocket would be loaded in the 'intake', and the gas would exit out the end of the barrel and partially out of an exhaust valve. Then vent the exhaust valve gas out of the crew camber through mufflers. Big Mufflers.

Frohickey
May 19, 2003, 09:57 PM
That experimental program is called RAVEN. The acronym stands for Rarefaction Wave Gun. On this gun, the breech is designed to open briefly when the gun has fired, allowing some gas to escape. By timing the gas release correctly, recoil can be cut down without losing distance or force on the fired round.

Wouldn't this hurt accuracy and increase complexity along with added weight?

Maybe what they need are advances in metallury, and propellant technology.

Jeff White
May 19, 2003, 10:10 PM
Crusader was originally supposed to use a liquid propellent. They had little success making that work.

Present recoil mechanisms use high pressure nitrogen over hydraulics to dampen the recoil. It's much like shooting a rifle only on a very large scale. The lighter you make the weapon, the heavier it recoils.

There is no way you could open the breech, even for a fraction of a second without frying the crew. I would bet that another research team is looking at muzzle brakes.

Jeff

George Hill
May 19, 2003, 11:16 PM
A big recoiless rifle. It's been done before, but not quite to this scale:
http://www.historicreproductions.com/restore1.htm
http://www.armouredengineer.force9.co.uk/bucket/viet106.htm

winwun
May 20, 2003, 07:17 AM
George thought of it before I did: A large bore recoilless that marries up with a cone inside the turret to vent the rearward blast outside. Rotate the turret 180 degrees and fire the tube for crowd control.

KP95DAO
May 20, 2003, 10:34 AM
"The weapons Benet Laboratories designed are to be made at the arsenal, Kathe said. The arsenal could start initial production of new cannons by 2006."

Actually, the assembly was/is to be done at a small town near Lawton, OK. This is next door to Ft. Sill, home of the US Army's artillery training center. They would be able to just drive over to the firing ranges for proofing and test firing and the people who would be learning to use them would be right there. We'll see.

erikm
May 20, 2003, 01:00 PM
This is a pork request :barf:

There's nothing mentioned in the article that cannot be done by systems available today. For example, the Delco armored mortar system (http://www.delcosystems.com/DS-v3/120AMS.htm) turret, which is made by General Dynamics, can do all things mentioned and will fit most current lighter armored vehicles (M113, M2, LAV family, possibly MT-LB). Mount an AMS turret on a (cut down) M113 chassis and you could end up with a fire support vehicle the light infantry divisions would kill for. It would probably end up looking a bit like this russian vehicle (http://www.jed.simonides.org/fulltrack/bravo/bmd_series/2s9/2s9_018.jpg) if you cut the hull down or this conversion (http://www.jed.simonides.org/fulltrack/mike-number-us/m113_series/ro120/ro120_001.jpg) if you don't.

If a new mobile artillery system is fielded alongside Paladin, I wouldn't be surprised if it's something like the israeli Rascal. This light tracked howitzer was specifically developed to be airportable by C130. Having a kick-??? fully automatic 50 ton howitzer doesn't mean much you can't get it to the field in time or in sufficient numbers to matter. A Crusader needs a tank transporter or a C17 to be moved long distances quickly, a Rascal can use a normal low loader truck or a C130. Rascal's main drawbacks (compared to Crusader) are that it doesn't fire quite as fast, far, have quite the same ammunition store or the same level of automation.

It also helps if the roads and bridges available you want to drive on can support the vehicle you're in. The M1 and its ilk apparently have major problems with this. Crusader seems heavy enough to have the same problem.

Cheers,
ErikM :evil:

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