FIDAE 2012: Bigger Than Ever
Not all the old systems should be disposed off. There were numbers of items on view at FIDAE that could be used to upgrade weapons that otherwise could be considered completely obsolete. The mentioned M40A1 RCL, for instance, is an awesome weapon against bunkers and built-up areas, but its signature has rendered it obsolete in the modern battlefield. However, with new sights to convert it in to a highly accurate, day and night all-weather weapon, the M40A1 could be deadlier and cheaper to operate than a similar, more sophisticated, difficult to maintain, and expensive to operate, antitank missile. With such firing mechanism aids, the gun could accurately acquire targets in excess of the 5,000 m. Furthermore, the IAI LAHAT AT missile can be fired from the same 105mm tube of the M40A1, and such manner, the elderly weapon is able to reach and touch with accuracy a target up to 8 km away. The possibility of its use in Latin America has been demonstrated in Mexico and Central America, where street battles against drug lords in their strongholds in urban areas can consume considerable assets and risks. U.S. troops have made use of ATG missiles to defeat similar targets, but this has shown that it takes 10 times as many warheads, with a corresponding price tag, to achieve the same. In places where stealth is not necessary, and where brutal punch and accuracy count, a modernized M40A1 would be a lethal and extremely efficient weapon. Similarly, the TCM-20 and similar point defense systems could be upgraded with all sorts of electronics to make them viable weapons in modern battlefields. Upgrading such types and their placement in even modest platforms, such as the mentioned Cashuat, could provide for relatively powerful machines in its local environment.
Sistemas FABA, a Division from the Spanish Navantia, presented for the first time its Terrestrial Reconnaissance and Exploration System (SERT). The turret can be mounted in diverse types of vehicles, and for FIDAE SERT was mounted on a Hummer. It was the first time that SERT was demonstrated out of Spain. Many other manufacturers also presented their remote control turrets.
European systems were well represented, with the Chilean Air Force displaying a GDF007 twin 35mm gun and associated Skyguard 3 fire control unit, both from Rheinmetall Defense. Next to these was a German-made Marder 1A3 APC, a new member of the Chilean Army armored forces, equipped with its very interesting 20mm gun turret. Nearby, Mercedes showcased its armored G-Wagon, Unimog, and Zetros 1833 trucks.
There was a display of the next generation of portable anti-tank weapons from Russia, to include the 105mm RPG-32, firing the PG-32 and TBG-32 rounds, with capacity of 650mm of homogeneous armor (RHA) penetration at a maximum range of 700 m. The RPG-28, on the other hand, is similar to the LAW M72, but in a larger 125mm caliber. The range of the RPG-28 is rated to 300 m, and it is designed to defeat modern and future tanks. The RMG present a similar profile, also in the 105mm, with a direct firing range of 130 m, and a sighting range 600 m. The RPG-29N is a portable anti-tank grenade launcher in 105mm, with a firing range of 300 m, and a sighting range of 500 m. It comes with a 1P38 optical sight and can be adapted with the 1PN51-2 night sights.
The MSS 1.2 refers to a portable, medium-range, anti-tank weapon system developed by Mectron from Brazil. The missile is laser guided, beam rider, command-to-line sight, that can penetrate 800mm RHA, and with an operational range between 200 and 3,200 m.
In the small arms category, Carl Zeiss displayed several important new products: The improved Hensoldt ZF 4-16×56 FFLT telescopic sight, and the ZO 6×36 targeting optics; its ZF3.5-26×56 telescopic sight was described as a compact, modular, low weight, and low starting magnification and extremely high end magnification in a compact design.
ATK had on display the new XM-25, the counter defilade target engagement (CDTE) system. The XM-29 is a 25mm grenade launcher, weighting 12 to 12.5 pounds, with a weight of 29.5 inches. The weapon uses a fully integrated optic sight with a day/night full solution target acquisition/fire control. The XMN25 enables the gunner to “program” the 25mm round fired through the launcher. The weapon comes with a 25mm in the chamber and a magazine with 4 additional projectiles. The current development ammunition includes high explosive air bursting and training, and soon to be fielded the armor piercing round. The next generation includes the blunt and air burst (less-than-lethal), and door breaching. It was indicated that five systems are now being tested in Afghanistan, and the weapons were due back from testing, but the troops refused to return them and are still using them in combat. An initial order for some 12,000 examples is expected in 2014.
ATK also provided considerable information on the next generation of ammunition being tested and fielded. There was information available also regarding the 30/40mm MK44 Bushmaster auto-cannon and the 30mm x 173mm air burst munitions system for the same MK44/MK310 MOD 0 PABM-T.
The GAU-19/A in 12.5mm and the similar GAU-19/B were present in several forms at the show. There were ground mounts and one of the weapons adorned the left side of a Bell 407AH, displayed with gun pods and rocket launchers. The weapon is a three-barrel, Gatling type gun for external mount. The GAU-19/B comes in a naval variant to be adapted in light patrol boats.
General Dynamics presented examples of its MK-19 AGL, and the new MK-47 MOD 0 model. This Stryker MK-47 is an advanced lightweight variant. GD integrated the latest sensing, targeting, and computer-programming technology into this new weapon. The MK-47 MOD0 weights 39.6 pounds (18kg), compared to the 77 pounds (35kg) of the MK-19 MOD3. It comes with a lightweight video sight (AN/PWG-1), with a magnification of 3x.
There were a number of soft mounts available for different types of weapons. The LMR ALU, from the Danish SIMA for instance, refers to a lightweight motorized ring-mount derived from the LMR-M08, and it is designed to accommodate different types of machine guns or automatic grenade launchers. The ring-mount is controlled by a joy-stick that allows the gunner to rotate the turret 360 degrees in less than 7 seconds. The total weight of the LMR-ALU is 82kg.
Dillon Aero exhibited a six-barreled M134D, electrically driven, machine gun. The gun is chambered in 7.62mm NATO and fires at a fixed rate of 3,000 rpm, and typically feeds from a 3,000- or 4,000-round magazine. Dillon Gatlings can be used to replace M2HB MGs and M240s in fixed mounts and also adapted in naval mounts for small boats, in the same manner used by the British in the fleet protection role and Special Operations fire support role. Dillon offers a M134 component upgrade package for older General Electric GAU-2B/M134D Miniguns, and has developed a lightweight ring-mount to be mounted in light armored and soft skinned vehicles. The weapon would be ideal to upgrade a number of vehicles, to include the mentioned indigenous Cashuat, or to be used in the many combat pick-up trucks (“technicals” to borrow from African models) and gun trucks used in the region.