Non-Line-of-Sight Cannon (NLOS-C)
Electrothermal-Chemical (ETC) Gun System
United Defense is at the forefront of development of advanced gun technologies for the armed forces of the future. Through teaming with other world leaders in projectile development and advanced propellants, United Defense has created gun systems and projectiles that hold promise for the artillery, main battle tank and infantry fighting vehicles of tomorrow. To accomplish this work, United Defense uses its large- and medium-caliber test sites located near Minneapolis, Minnesota.
On August 9, 2002 United Defense Industries, Inc. announced that it received formal notice from the U.S. Army that its Crusader contract had been terminated for the convenience of the government. The termination notice constituted the Army's implementation of the decision of the Secretary of Defense, announced on May 8, 2002, that the program would be cancelled. The termination was effective immediately and essentially ended all further work on the Crusader program by United Defense and its subcontractors.
United Defense also announced it received a contract from the U.S. Army for a new cannon artillery system and its re-supply vehicle. This new artillery system is expected to be the first demonstration of ground combat platforms for the Army's transformation to its long-term future combat force, known as the Future Force. It reflects then Chief of Staff of the Army General Eric Shinseki's assessment that the Army "cannot fully employ objective force [now referred to as Future Force] operational concepts without this capability [Future Combat System Cannon]."
"United Defense and its industry partners welcome the new contract and the challenge of bringing the technological advances matured in the Crusader program to the Objective Force [now referred to as Future Force] and the Future Combat System," said Keith Howe, Vice President and General Manager of United Defense's Armament Systems Division. "The contract recognizes the tremendous capability and the performance of the over 2,200 employees nationwide that brought Crusader to the Army's Proving Ground and who will now focus their energies and talents on the need to field a less than 20-ton system to the Army by 2008."
United Defense and the companies of the Crusader team are working with the Army to transition many of the more than two dozen cutting edge technologies developed over the past 8 years into the lighter, more deployable and lethal Objective Force Cannon, which is also known as the Non-Line-of-Sight (NLOS) cannon. Work during the fiscal year (2002) was done under a $27 million contract. The House and Senate in their respective appropriations bills agreed to provide $368.5 million in funding for fiscal 2003 for the cannon system. The FY 2005 estimate for the NLOS Cannon system was $260.5 million.
Electrothermal-Chemical Propulsion (ETC) is a collection of propulsion concepts which offer the potential for near-term substantial increases in projectile kinetic energy (up to 25 percent) while utilizing conventional solid propellant gun tube and projectile technology.
If successful, this program will provide the U.S. Army with propulsion technology which will increase projectile kinetic energy (up to 25 percent) and overall gun performance by up to 50 percent with corresponding increases in lethality and range. At the present time, the United States has the lead in this technology, but the United Kingdom has devoted substantial resources than the United States in the exploration of several novel ETC approaches which could benefit US programs. By 1997 Israeli research had already demonstrated an 18 percent increase in velocity, using electrical energy to augment and control the conventional propellant's burn.
Past electrothermal chemical propulsion research points out that it is necessary to consider reducing electric energy requirements (on the basis of more mature calculations done with regard to pulse power). At the same time, what is even more important is that methods relying on the use of electrical energy inputs to control combustion go through increases in chemical energy in order to raise performance. As a result, development work on propellants, cutting across broad fields in new forms of chemistry, is the main focal point of electrothermal chemical research. As far as multiple types of propellants are concerned, there are clear increases in energy densities (as compared to solid propellents at the present time). It seems that the use of electric power to produce controllable plasma phases is compatible.
The US Army TACOM-ARDEC has been developing high energy high performance gun propellant that can be iginited using the Electrothermal- Chemical (ETC) ignition system in support of the Future Combat System (FCS) Multi-Role Armament and Ammunition Advanced Technology Demonstration. The use of energetic thermoplastic elastomer (ETPE) based gun propellants ETPE propellants in laminated configuration with relatively high solids loading contents have proven to provide increased ballistic performance over currently fielded gun propellants. Other gun propellant formulations consisting of nitrocellulose binder in laminated and granular forms are also being investigated for this program.
In September 2004, United Defense accomplished the successful fire of a 120mm ETC gun from a combat vehicle.
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