Electro Optic Systems Pty Ltd (ASX: EOS) has announced two developments that will open up opportunities for the supply of weapons and defence systems to meet a growing demand to increase the firepower of armoured infantry vehicles.
The company has completed significant testing milestones of two new weapon systems. The systems, first revealed at the Army USA Show in Washington DC (21-23 October 2013) are:
According to EOS CEO, Dr Ben Greene, the two new products meet a growing demand for increased firepower across the entire range of next-generation combat vehicles, both tracked and wheeled. The EOS products set new benchmarks for firepower while, importantly, offering significantly reduced weight.
Both products have now successfully completed major qualification processes, in each case spanning two years of testing.
Remotely Operated Turret for 30-40 mm cannon
The EOS remote turret was developed through a 5-year, $26 million collaboration. It is based on EOS ballistic fire control and stabilisation technologies which have been refined over 25 years of development and many operational programs with US, NATO and coalition forces.
The turret is designed to use the Orbital ATK Mk44 cannon in either 30mm or 40 mm configuration. This weapon is highly regarded for its reliability and accuracy, and is in widespread use today. Turret performance testing was completed in mid-2014 with all performance benchmarks set by potential customers satisfied, including engagement accuracy.
Since mid-2014 the turret has undergone further extensive testing by EOS and third parties to establish its reliability in operational conditions. These tests have identified no issues that would prevent the turret meeting the in-service expectations of customers.
With the completion of performance and reliability testing, the EOS turret is ready for production orders.
The turret can be configured with a wide range of performance and capability options for various roles. A standard configuration includes coaxial machine gun, commander's sight, and surface-to-surface missile capability. Other variants include active vehicle protection, under-armor reloading, thru-turret crew situation awareness, a commander's weapon system and increased ballistic protection.
The turret can be optioned for demanding requirements such as the Australian Army LAND 400 program, or fielded in a basic configuration which still delivers extremely accurate 30 mm firepower.
Regardless of the configuration, the turret does not protrude into the vehicle cabin space, and the number of infantry or amount of cargo carried in the vehicle is not reduced by adding the turret. The EOS turret is shown in the picture below.
According to Dr Greene, "testing shows the new EOS remote turret meets customer standards for accuracy, weight and reliability. We expect to be among the first to market with mature products, and we are already working closely with customers."
"Initially, we expected the initial market for this turret to be armoured vehicles requiring weapon system upgrades, but the market has expanded to include new vehicles which are now being fielded without weapons because the escalating firepower requirements of the new battlefield have rendered their originally-planned weapon systems inadequate."
R-400S Remote Weapon System
The EOS R-400 remote weapon system family has already been produced in significant numbers, deployed on 20 different vehicles, adapted to more than 20 different weapons, and seen active service in multiple theatres with US, NATO, Australian and other coalition forces.
The most recent R-400 variant (R-400S) was developed with the support of the Australian Government's Priority Industry Capability Innovation Program (PICIP) run by the Defence Materiel Organisation (DMO). PICIP provided EOS with grant funds in 2013 to help commercialise innovative defence technology. The R-400S has been specifically developed to provide precision engagement at long ranges generally beyond the reach of conventional remote weapon systems deploying weapons such as 12.7mm and 7.62 mm machine guns.
A focus of development for the R-400S has been the Orbital ATK M230LF 30mm cannon. The M230LF is an improved version of the 30mm cannon featured on the Apache helicopter and has been optimized for use on vehicle and naval platforms. It is a member of the Chain Gun® family of externally powered, combat reliable conventional automatic weapons.
The R-400S with M230LF delivers high hit probability on a moving target from a moving weapon platform, at ranges exceeding 2,000m. The accuracy achieved by EOS's R-400S with M230LF at all ranges is twice as high as any other 30mm weapon system weighing less than 900 kg. Since the EOS 30mm solution weighs only 450kg (including 250 rounds of ammunition), the system delivers twice the accuracy at half the weight of any other system.
This performance has been tested on various vehicles and under a range of climate conditions. Some unclassified results from recent operational testing monitored by observers from 3 countries are shown below. This graphic represents the results from firing 60 rounds in both single-shot and burst mode, and from 7 different positions including 6 separate moving 4x4 engagements. More than 96% of all shots hit the [blue square] NATO standard vehicle target.
The demonstrated performance represents a significant leap ahead in firepower for light combat vehicles. Most basic 4x4 military vehicles can serve as a platform for a weapon system of only 450 kg and the R-400S has already been fired from vehicles ranging from 6-28 tonnes. Most recently, the R-400S with M230LF has been demonstrated on the Oshkosh MRAP All-Terrain Vehicle [M-ATV].
The M-ATV is a next-generation 4x4 vehicle with exceptional off-road mobility and crew protection capabilities. Its stability and suspension travel make it an ideal platform for a wide range of weapon system applications. After only one day of integration of the R-400S with the M-ATV excellent results were achieved, including 96% hit rate at 1,000m from both moving and stationary firing positions as described above.
"This accuracy from a remote weapon system is unprecedented," added Dr. Greene.
"Achieving full performance after just one day of integration of the R-400S and M230LF for the first time with M-ATV indicates the maturity of the weapon, weapon system and vehicle.
"The R-400S remote weapon system with M230LF offers a combination of size, weight, performance, firepower and price that establishes a new benchmark for a wide range of combat applications," Dr. Greene added.
The most common vehicle in use by the US Army is the HMMWV. The HMMWV vehicle will be phased out of US Army service over the next 20 years, but it is lighter and much less rigid than any replacement vehicle will be, and therefore provided an ideal, worst-case test platform for this weapon system.
The R-400S has been extensively tested on this vehicle over two years, and with excellent results. HMMWV testing was completed during 2014.
Source: Electro Optic Systems Holdings Limited
Date: Feb 19, 2015