Industry blames CT40 Cannon for armoured vehicle delays

Harry Lye 1 October 2020 (Last Updated October 1st, 2020 12:07)

General Dynamics and Lockheed Martin have both blamed the government-furnished CT40 cannon for causing delays to the UK’s armoured vehicle programmes in evidence submitted to Parliament’s defence select committee.

Industry blames CT40 Cannon for armoured vehicle delays
Ajax vehicle. Image: MOD/ Crown Copyright.

In evidence to the same inquiry, KNDS – a Nexter-Krauss-Maffei Wegmann partnership – advertised the merits of the turrets saying it was offering the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) a variant of the Boxer Mechanised Infantry Vehicle (MIV) equipped with a CT40 cannon based turret installed on Nexter’s Jaguar armoured reconnaissance and combat vehicle.

The CT40 is built by a Nexter-BAE Systems consortium, CTA International, and is set to be installed on the French Jaguar vehicle, as well as the General Dynamics Land Systems – UK (GDLS-UK) AJAX armoured vehicle and Lockheed Martin Warrior Capability Sustainment Programme (CSP).

Illustration of the CT40 Cannon. Image: CTA International.

France is set to receive 300 Jaguar vehicles with first deliveries planned over the next few months. The UK has ordered 245 turreted Ajax variants of the AJAX vehicle, as Warrior CSP is still in development, no final numbers have been agreed on how many vehicles will be equipped with the new CT40 cannon.

In June 2020, Lockheed received an Invitation to Negotiate (ITN) from the MOD for the production contract for Warrior CSP.

One source told Army Technology said that delays to the UK armoured vehicle programmes using the CT40 cannon could be a result of poor integration, especially when compared with France’s success with the system.

In France, integration of the CT40 cannon was handled by MOOG, with Jaguar being part of the country’s wider Scorpion vehicle project that aims to deliver 6,000 vehicles before the end of the next decade.

UK industries’ complaints about CT40

In its evidence, GDLS-UK said that at the time it was awarded the AJAX contract, the CT40 cannon was still in development adding that the cannons ‘performance was not fully characterised and subsequent configuration changes were not fully reported’.

The company said that these issues resulted in ‘significant design changes’ to AJAX and further trials which it said led to additional costs and delays.

In trials, the GDLS-UK AJAX has fired 4,200 40mm rounds from the CT40 cannon. So far 157 vehicle hulls and 45 turrets have been built. The company says 60 of the planned 589 vehicles have been completed with 17 accepted by the MOD and 12 vehicles being put into service.

GDLS-UK said that at the time AJAX’s demonstration contract award in 2010 the cannon was still a development item and claimed that at the time of the production contract award in 2014 its design was not fully characterised.

GDLS-UK added: “The Interface Control Document issued to GDLS-UK for the contract did not fully represent the 40mm Cannon’s performance characteristics, leading to the need for design change.

“In addition to these design issues, the CT40 was issued to GDLS-UK significantly later than planned in the joint programme schedule, and at a different configuration to that in the

contract documents, resulting in substantial redesign and consequential programme delays of around 18 months.”

The company added that a ‘stable and defined build standard’ was not finalised until the AJAX contract was recast in 2019. The company added: “There remains some outstanding characterisation issues with aspects of the CT40 cannon performance.”

DSEI 2019: Lockheed Martin Warrior CSP on scheduleWarrior CSP on show at DSEI 2019.

Warrior CSP is designed to extend the in-service life of the Warrior armoured fighting vehicle (AFV) beyond 2040. The Warrior CSP programme is comprised of three parts; the Warrior Fightability Lethality Improvement Programme (WFLIP), Warrior Enhanced Electronic Architecture (WEEA), Warrior Modular Protection System (WMPS).

CT40 is mandated by the MOD as the weapons systems for Warrior CSP.

In its evidence, Lockheed Martin said that the ‘final technical baseline and configuration’ for the cannon were not established until five years into the WCSP programme demonstration contract, first awarded in 2011. Lockheed Martin said this was three years later than ‘expected’.

Lockheed Martin said this delay resulted in a contract amendment as the company had to “reengineer the integrated turret system and re-design the Cannon Control Unit and its interfaces.”

For Warrior CSP, the CT40 cannon is managed and delivered by a separate Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S) project team to the wider Warrior CSP programme.

Could the UK buy a CT40 equipped Boxer?

While GDLS-UK and Lockheed Martin raised issues with the cannon in its evidence, KNDS raised the prospects of the UK purchasing a CT40 equipped variant of the Boxer MIV, that it said could replace the need for Warrior CSP entirely. The consortium also made the case for the UK joining the combined Franco-German project to build a new Main Ground Combat System (MGCS).

In its evidence, KNDS raised the prospects of outfitting Boxer with the same turret designed for the Jaguar – dubbed Boxer T40 – claiming it is a solution to providing the British Army’s planned Strike brigades with direct fire requirement and that is a cost-effective alternative to Warrior CSP.

KNDS wrote: “Jaguar, like AJAX and WCSP in [the] UK, has the CT40 cannon as its main armament. With investment and support from UK MoD and the French DGA, referenced within the Lancaster House treaty, this battlefield dominating technology has been jointly developed and produced by Nexter (France) and BAE Systems (UK).”

KNDS says that Jaguar is, in essence, a wheeled equivalent of the AJAX platform. Unlike the UK companies that responded to the call for evidence, KNDS did not comment on any problems with the CT40 turret.

Nexter is keen on getting a chunk of the UK-market and its KNDS consortium partner Krauss-Maffei Wegmann already has a foothold in the UK Boxer programme through its subsidiary WFEL based in Stockport.

WFEL is set to take on a manufacturing role in the UK’s Boxer MIV programme alongside Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land (RBSL).

KNDS wrote: “KMW, already operating through its UK subsidiary WFEL (Stockport), is taking a major role in delivering BOXER through the MIV programme to the British Army. Nexter will continue to seek an expanded role in the UK beyond the 40mm CTA programme for which it has operated a joint venture with BAE Systems since 1994.”

The consortium describes Boxer T40 as an ‘immediate’ solution it could offer to the UK.