Saturday, May 23, 2015

While we are on Remote Turrets, Enter Epoch...

Russia's Entry in the Remote Turrets Arena:
Epoch 30mm

Epoch 30mm Remote Turret
Epoch 30mm Remote Turret

Since the May 9th parade in Moscow, the new Russian Armored Vehicles and Armata MBT have been quite a hot topic.

Epoch 30mm Remote Turret

 On the new T-15 Heavy IFV, Kurganets-25 IFV and Boomerang 8x8, there was one big commonality and that was the Epoch Remote Turret.

Epoch Turret on T15 Heavy IFV  
Epoch Turret on T15 Heavy IFV

Epoch Turret is developed by the KBP Design Bureau in Tula, Russia.

The turret is remotely operated from inside the vehicle and armed with a 2A42 gas operated, dual-feed 30mm autocannon and a coaxial 7.62mm PKT Machine Gun. 

The 2A42 cannon has a maximum rate of fire of 800 and a muzzle velocity of 960 m/s. 

The turret also has two Kornet-EM ATGM missiles on each side.

Kornet-EM is the most modern version of the Kornet missile system with three different warheads, a tandem HEAT warhead for tanks, a thermobaric warhead and a HE warhead. The most important capability is the automatic target tracker in the system that eliminates the gunner having to track the target until the missile impact. The range is also increased to 8-10km's.

Epoch Turret on Boomerang 8x8 IFV
Epoch Turret on Boomerang 8x8 IFV

Epoch Turret Top View
Epoch Turret Top View

The ammunition for the main and coaxial guns are stored in  bustle located ammoboxes. The 2A42 gun has a impressive load of 500 ready rounds with 340 of these being of the HE type and the remaining 160 being of AP type.

As you can see from the image above, the large hatch at the back of the turret is most probably for the reloading of ammunition. It leads me to think that there is probably no reloading from under armor for this turret. 

The coax 7.62mm gun has 2.000 ready rounds which is also quite a feat.

The turret has all electric drives and has 2 axis stabilization capability.

The internal layout of the turret is shown below:

Epoch Turret Layout
Epoch Turret Layout

 The turret has got two identical looking stabilized sights for the gunner and commander. A computerized fire control system is fitted with thermal imagers, day cameras and laser range finders for increased first round hit probability. All around the turret, laser warning receivers and smoke grenade launchers are located.
We will see if this new turret will be the universal turret for the new toys of the Russian Army.

Epoch Turret on Stand
Epoch Turret on Stand

Rear Side of the Turret
Rear Side of the Turret

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

On Manned vs Unmanned Turrets

Manned vs Unmanned

I've been reading on some articles recently on turrets, mainly the issue of Manned vs Unmanned (Remote) turrets.

I think two recent events have an impact on the heated discussions, these being:
  • The US Army's intention of upgunning the 2nd ACR Stryker 8x8 vehicles with a weapon system having higher lethality and effectiveness than the current .50cal RWS.
  • The turrets required for the Australian Land Forces' 8x8 Combat Reconnaissance Vehicle (CRV) component of the Australian Land 400 programme.
Demonstrations at Fort Benning, 2014
Kongsberg's MCT30 Remote Turret during demonstrations at Fort Benning, February 2014
 Citing from one of my previous posts on Remote Turrets:

  • Remote turrets are enclosed structures with all the subsystems like the ammunition feed chutes, ammo boxes and drives are inside an armored cocoon. On the other hand RWS have an open architecture.
  • Remote Turrets offer an important advantage of reloading under armor whereas in most of the RWS's, the crew has to get outside to reload ammunition.
Remote Turret Classification
However remote turrets have some drawbacks based on the crew being located inside the hull. Main item being total dependency on the sensors/electro-optics. 

During operations, the the commander's capability to crack open the hatch and have a look around the vicinity provides a big advantage in terms of situational awereness.

In addition, the sighting systems in the remote turrets, cannot include direct view optics, which is also avery important for some armies such as British Army.

Another issue for the remote turrets is the difficulty of the gunner losing the feeling on the turret/barrel orientation. The gunner is located inside the hull and his sensory feedback only feels the vehicle accelerations; thus after a short while it is not uncommon for the gunner to start having difficulties on where the turret is oriented with respect to the vehicle, especially when the stabilization is turned on.

This can be overcome by utilizing easy to understand indications on the gunner's display; however still requires careful design.

One of the good articles I was reading was from the Australian Defence Technology by Ian Bostock with the title of "Pointers hint at unmanned future for CRV turret".

One of the points in the article states that Remote Turrets offer significant weight savings (the article says 1.200 to 2.000kg's) compared with a manned turret with equivalent protection levels.

I have to disagree with this statement.

Suppose you are converting a two-men turret to a remote turret keeping the protection level the same ie. STANAG 4569 Level IV. The structural elements and equipment you can totally eliminate in a remote turret are:

  • Hatch mechanisms (hinges, locks, handles, etc.)
  • Periscopes
  • Spall liners (if present on the 2 men turret)
  • Basket structure
  • Seats
Also for the remote turret, you have the option to reduce the ring diameter from a generally accepted value of around 1.5-1.6m in a two men turret to a ring around 1m diameter. This would help you reduce the weight of the ring gear (or slewing ring in other words).
On the other hand, you still have to put two seats inside the vehicle for the commander and gunner. Also the displays, handles, structural elements for these still have to be located inside the vehicle. So these are weight-wise not totally eliminated albeit some reduction in the volume invaded compared with the basket swept volume for a manned turret.
However, the ammunition boxes for the main gun and the coax gun that were generally in the basket for the two-men turret have to be relocated to the turret hull. The former 2 men turret hull did not include these, so it usually means you have to increase the turret hull size to accommodate the ammo boxes. The following images shows the ammobox size for a 30mm turret with linked and linkless ammunition types. These ammo boxes takes up considerable volume inside the turret hull for a remote turret.
The AmmoBox for 30mm Turret (GD Mk46) 

Linkless Ammunition Feed System with Two 75 Round Ammo Boxes on Each Side of 30mm Cannon

As size means more surface area and more surface area means weight, you dont get to save that much weight by converting to a remote turret.
AmmoBox inside the hull for a remote turret
Also, for the remote turrets, the turret cutout on the vehicle roof has to be covered by a hatch. This also adds weight.
The result shows, you usually dont save significant amount of weight with a remote turret having the same protection level as a two men turret.

However, the trick is reducing the protection level for the remote turret considering the fact that there is no crew inside. This approach would pave the way for weight reduction.

So, in my opinion, the remote turrets although offer some advantages are not the perfect solution to replace all the other turrets.

The correct answer probably lies in the configuration and mission of the vehicle, such as:

  • If the vehicle is a pure IFV that is going to go head to head with the enemy vehicles, two men turrets offering more situational awereness and control over the battlefield would have a definite advantage.
  • If the vehicle is a reconnaissance vehicle that is to be used for recon-with-fire principle, again the two-men turrets offer more advantages for situational awereness. 

  • For a reconnaisance platform relying more on electro-optics and sensors, you will need more room inside the vehicle for operators, more displays, consoles, etc. Remote turrets should be preferred. 

  • For a command platform, again you need more room inside for command consoles, communication equipment, etc. Remote turrets would be a better solution.


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

M1 Tank Test Bed (TTB) with Unmanned Turret

M1 Abrams Tank Test Bed

A Long Time Ago, In a Galaxy Far, Far Away...
Long Before Armata MBT, There was M1 TTB...

Good news from National Army and Cavalry Museum

M1 TTB is restored by the National Army and Cavalry Museum (NACM).

M1 TTB underway to restoration. (copyright: NACM)

M1 TTB Restored (Copyright: NACM)

Here is a video:

In the   mid-80s, US Tank Automotive Command (TACOM) awarded a contract to design and develop a Test Bed for an M1 Abrams with an Unmanned 120mm Turret with the crew in the hull to General Dynamics Land Systems.

M1 Tank Test Bed (TTB) with Unmanned Turret
M1 Tank Test Bed (TTB) with Unmanned Turret

 The distinctive feature of this Test Bed is the Unmanned Turret with the Autoloader. 

M1 Tank Test Bed (TTB) with Unmanned Turret
M1 Tank Test Bed (TTB) with Unmanned Turret

The crew including the Tank Commander, Gunner and Driver are located in the hull. They are provided with a space ship style seating arrangement.

TTB Crew Layout
TTB Crew Layout

The tank retained the original M256 smooth bore gun albeit in an unmanned turret with the 120-mm “brassboard” autoloader transfer mechanism. This device was required to cycle ammunition from a designated storage position to a simulated gun breech and back, at 12 rounds/minute, while leaving no witness marks on the fragile combustible case after the completion of 20 loading repetitions per round.

The TTB Autoloader was a conspicuous success. The system consisted of a 44-round capacity “carousel” type mechanized magazine, located in an unmanned turret basket; a fully articulated Transfer Unit (including a rammer) positioned at the rear of the M256 120-mm cannon in the turret bustle; and a microprocessor-based, Electronic
Control Unit (ECU). 

TTB Turret with AutoLoader

AutoLoader Transfer Unit

The system was electrohydraulically powered to utilize the existing turret power supply.

And the TTB vehicle today....

TTB Vehicle Today
TTB Vehicle Today

  • Sharoni, A., H., Bacon, L., D., "Ammunition Loading Systems for Future Tanks", Armor, March-April, 1995

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

FNSS's Next Ace: Pars 4x4

PARS 4x4

FNSS revealed another brand new vehicle today in IDEF Exhibition in Istanbul.

The 4x4 vehicle is named Pars 4x4 following the legacy of FNSS's wheeled vehicles.

FNSS's Brand New IFV - Kaplan

FNSS just revealed their brand new Tracked Infantry Fighting Vehicle - Kaplan 20 with the brand new turret.

IDEF 2015

IDEF 2015 starts today in Istanbul, Turkey.