U.S. Army Engineers Demonstrate New Lethality System for Future Combat Vehicles
Denrie Caila Perez posted on August 11, 2020 |
The new system developed by Picatinny is designed to maximize medium caliber weapons.
50mm XM913.Photo courtesy of the U.S. Army.
50mm XM913.Photo courtesy of the U.S. Army.

Picatinny Arsenal, the center for armament system technologies research and development, has recently achieved key milestones in creating a new advanced armament system in line with the Army Modernization Priorities. The new Advanced Lethality and Accuracy System for Medium Caliber (ALAS-MC) is designed to allow gunners to be more agile and to fire with higher accuracy, even along farther distances. The engineers were able to integrate a medium caliber weapon, ammunition, fire control, and sensors in order to achieve these metrics. This is in line with the development portfolio of the Next Generation Combat Vehicle Cross-Functional Team (NGCV CFT).

“The combination of enhancements not only give gunners greater versatility, but we anticipate that overall gunner operations could be as much as three times faster,” said Kevin Fitzpatrick, of the Advanced Armaments Division of the Combat Capabilities Development Command Armaments Center, located at Picatinny Arsenal.

Key features of the system include high explosive air burst munition for optimized effects against personnel targets, both behind walls and in the open; an armor piercing ammunition for optimized effects against materiel targets; integrated fire control enhancements; and graphical user interface and enhanced laser rangefinder. A number of technologies were also integrated into the design, namely, the XM913 (a 50mm auto cannon), which can fire both XM1204 High Explosive Airburst with Trace (HEAB-T) and XM1203 Armor Piercing Fin Stabilized Discarding Sabot with Trace (APFSDS-T) munitions. The HEAB-T is also expected to replace the traditional High Explosive (HE) ammunition and become the standard ammunition.

The ALAS-MC HEAB-T in particular will introduce a flexible multimode programmable capability, allowing a variety of settings such as Point Detonate (PD), Point Detonate Delay (PDD), and Airburst (AB). These cartridges were specifically designed and developed by the engineers at Picatinny and were manufactured by General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems. Additionally, the XM913 weapon was developed in collaboration with Northrop Grumman Defense Systems.

In addition, the advanced graphical user interface will allow the gunner to choose between a set of target icons capable of matching common threats to an infantry fighting vehicle. The fire control capability then selects the optimal amount of rounds as well as the most effective aim point for each target. The fire control technology uses both sensor data and scenario-based engagement techniques to achieve this. This capability is expected to optimize lethal effects while reducing engagement time and the logistics footprint. The hardware was developed exclusively by the engineers at Picatinny along with General Dynamics Mission Systems-Canada.

The 50mm XM913 was demonstrated back in December to ensure that it met the accuracy and lethality requirements of the program. According to the results, use of the new system saw an increase in lethal capability over existing medium caliber weapons commonly used today.

The Mounted Requirements Divisions at the Maneuver Center of Excellence assisted in simulating combat scenarios using active duty gunners. Collaborative analysis along with simulation was also conducted in partnership with the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Army Research Lab, the Combat Capabilities Development Command Data and Analysis Center.

The center transitioned the ALAS-MC hardware to the Advanced Targeting and Lethality Aided System (ATLAS) program back in March at Aberdeen Proving Ground. This new project will focus on demonstrating innovative new technologies capable of using automated turrets with soldier-in-the-loop control. However, the Army has also expressed that it has no intentions of directing the space with any specific lethality solutions.

“Constant communication with the user community is crucial to ensure the program remains aligned with its operational intent,” said Fitzpatrick. “The ALAS-MC program is just one example of how early science and technology investment has been, and continues to be, necessary to ensure that the Army meets the materiel modernization priorities.”

For more information, visit the U.S. Army website.

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