Focus on “Technology Insertions”
Since the end of the Cold War, NATO and its allies have focused on and have fought COIN conflicts. This created the need for a number of new capabilities – but not the kind that are in parallel with what peer adversaries have focused on during this same time period. Today, NATO and its allies are challenged to equal more capable threats from historical adversaries and have the need to sharpen their lost edge. What military leaders are looking for are weapons that are more precise, more capable and reliable without creating the need to create entirely new systems.
Orbital ATK describes their approach to helping militaries fill capability gaps is through “technology insertions” that will make today’s weapons more capable, and create battlefield overmatch in scenarios ranging from asymmetric warfare to peer-on-peer engagements. Examples of these already available include precision guidance kits for artillery that transform conventional artillery into precision weapons and advanced ammunition types that add proximity and airburst capability to existing gun systems. These cost-effective, incremental technology insertions provide the soldier with highly reliable, more precise weapons that can more effectively engage a greater breadth of targets while reducing the chance of collateral damage and lessening logistical requirements at the same time.
Another example of the company’s ability to create greater firepower for existing platforms is through their role in the US Army’s STRYKER Lethality Upgrade programme, where the company’s 30mm Bushmaster Chain Gun is “up-gunning” the 2nd Cavalry Regiment’s STRYKER fleet. The programme adds a remote turret system with Orbital ATK’s XM813 BUSHMASTER Chain Gun paired with Kongsberg’s MCT-30 remote turret. The addition of the chain gun provides a leap ahead in firepower (as compared to previously only having a .50 calibre gun mount). The STRYKER in this new configuration represents the US Army’s first integration of Orbital ATK’s advanced 30mm MK310 Programmable Air Burst Munition (PABM), which provides the crew the ability to defeat shielded or concealed targets with airburst, point detonating or point detonating with delay modes. The warhead can be set to penetrate through lightly protected cover and then burst, or burst immediately upon impacting the target.
Additionally, the turret supports the cannon when upgraded to fire 40mm ammunition (Super 40) which Orbital ATK is creating an entire family. This provides ‘future growth’ by providing greater stand-off, lethality and armour penetration. The family of 40mm ammunition will include: target practice, PABM, armour penetrating and High Explosive Incendiary with Tracer (HEIT) variants.
History has proven that weapon technological advancements have peaks and valleys over time which cause adversaries to escalate their own capabilities to regain battlefield overmatch. Given the immense logistics involved in properly equipping modern forces, an approach that follows an incremental insertion of technologies to meet known capability gaps offers the most flexible and resource effective approach to meeting the challenges that can range from asymmetric to full, peer-on-peer warfare.
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