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AUSA 2018: Northrop Grumman Armament Systems Division in Detail

Advanced 120mm Tank Ammo, Precision Weapons & CUAV

At the Northrop Grumman booth #7841at AUSA, the company details its Innovation Systems Sector (formerly Orbital ATK) of Northrop Grumman’s Armament Systems Division. Topics are Advanced 120mm Tank Ammunition, Precision Weapons and Counter-Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS).

Northrop Grumman’s Armament Systems division recently completed the first year of production for the US Army’s Advanced Kinetic Energy tank cartridge M829A4. At the time of AUSA, the company was undergoing Lot Acceptance Testing in Yuma, AZ/USA. The company is under contract for a second year of production which is running concurrently. Later this year, the army and Northrop Grumman will negotiate terms for a third and fourth production years.

The division has continued on the development path for the US Army’s newest multipurpose round (XM1147 – Advanced Multi Purpose – AMP) for the ABRAMS main battle tank. A critical design review is to occur during the first quarter 2019 and the Development Test and Evaluation (DTE) phase will take place by year’s end 2019. Once the DTE is complete, a Low Rate Initial Production phase will begin.

Additionally, the company is (internally) looking at how the AMP technology can be transformed into a 105mm round that would support either a future light tank or the existing Mobile Gun System.

Using the ABRAMS’ ammunition data link, the gunner will use the fire control system to programme the AMP fuze for a specific operational mode (point detonate or airburst). The versatility of the round lies in the crew’s ability to specify the engagement mode which in turn, greatly reduces crew reaction time and increases battlefield survivability.

AMP will technologically replace four current, inventory rounds without sacrificing capability against target sets including bunker defeat, light armour, rubbling and enemy troops out to 500 meters. AMP also adds new capabilities to breach reinforced walls, defeat of anti-tank guided missile teams and airburst capability out to 2,000 metres.

The company is displayinf its HATCHET precision glide weapon again this year. So far in 2018, HATCHET has undergone a series of (internally funded) development tests. By year’s end, the company will conduct an all up guide to hit test with a live warhead to prove the weapons ability to guide to target and validate fuze functions and warhead capability. This will progress the six pound weapon to Technical Readiness Level (TRL) 7. At this point, HATCHET will be ready for combat and would simply need to be qualified on potential customer’s platforms (manned and/or unmanned aircraft) to reach TRL 9.

HATCHET takes advantage of Lethality Enhanced Ordnance technology, which creates an optimised warhead that has equivalent lethality of a 500lbs bomb – with a greatly reduced chance for collateral damage.

The company furthermore is currently into a second full year of production of the Precision Guidance Kit (PGK), which transforms conventional artillery projectiles into near precision weapons.

PGK is now entering the mix in supporting the army’s Long Range Precision Fires modernisation programme through proving its interoperability with the ARDEC-developed XM1113 155mm Rocket Assisted Projectile and the XM1128 base bleed projectile. The army has a requirement that the future long range projectile will be interoperable with PGK. The company indicated that initial demonstrations and modeling have provided high confidence that PGK will be fully interoperable and should require no physical modifications to the existing PGK form – with the primary modification (if necessary) would be software related.

Beyond the current PGK, Northrop Grumman unveiled its aft-guided 155mm projectile, which uses PGK technology to provide a precision capability for an all new, purpose built projectile. Modeling and initial testing indicate that the aft-guided round would provide increased maneuverability (up to six times that of the current PGK) and increased range beyond current, conventional 155mm projectiles. The army is looking at creating a precision artillery capability that has creates Extended Range Cannon Artillery that provides a “10x” capability through a combination of an increased range, increased rate of fire, increased lethality, increased reliability, and a greater survivability.

The company displays its C-UAS capability that includes the Anti Unmanned Aerial System Defence System (AUDS) for an electronic capability to detect, identify, track and defeat malicious (small and slow moving) drones on the battlefield.

Northrop Grumman will demonstrate this electronic and kinetic C-UAS capability during the US Army’s MFIX exercise later this year at Ft. Sill, OK. The AUDS and M230LF (designated XM914 by the US Army) will be integrated on to a STRYKER combat vehicle and will demonstrate its ability to integrate on to the defense network system, detect, identify, track and defeat small drones as well as provide crew self-protection through the vehicle’s chain gun.

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