MOD receives first new cannon system since 1960s

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) has received the first of 515 new 40mm cannons to be delivered by CTA International (CTAI), a 50/50 joint venture between BAE Systems and France’s Nexter Systems.

Known as the Cased Telescoped Cannon System, it is being manufactured at CTAI’s base in Bourges, France. Rather than the traditional bullet shape, the cannon uses ammunition contained in a straight tube, and according to BAE Systems it will deliver an explosive charge up to four times more powerful than the 30mm rounds being replaced.

BAE Cannon
Click image to expand in new tab (Credit: BAE Systems)

“This is a significant milestone for CTAI and a proud moment to see our cannon being handed over to the British Army,” said Craig Fennell, managing director of CTAI.

“We are the only group in the world who can design and manufacture this type of cannon and ammunition, giving us a unique product for export.”

CTAI was set up in 1994 to explore the development of a cased telescoped cannon solution, and later given a contract by the MOD and France’s Direction générale de l’armement (DGA) for the integration of the cannon with the British Army’s Warrior tank. The cannon was mandated by the MOD in 2008 for use in the Warrior and FRES (now Ajax) vehicles, and will also be used on France’s Jaguar armoured vehicle.

FV510 Warrior Infantry Section Vehicle
FV510 Warrior Infantry Section Vehicle (Credit: Davric via CC)

Ammunition for the system is loaded sideways using a new rotating breech system, before turning 90 degrees and then fired. BAE Systems says this helps save a large amount of space inside the vehicle, allowing for storage of additional ammo and other equipment. Current types of munitions include armour piercing and point detonating rounds, while two separate types of airburst rounds are also in development – one for light ground vehicles and infantry and another to target drones and light aircraft.

Both BAE Systems and Nexter Systems are licensed to produce the ammunition for the cannon. BAE Systems will be supplying rounds for the British Army through its munitions factories in Washington, Tyne and Wear and Glascoed in Wales. The contract for the 515 cannon systems with the MOD is worth around £150m, and will see the weapons delivered over the next six years. Delivery for the French Jaguar programme will overlap with this timeframe, and the assembly facility also has the potential to increase capacity and fulfil other orders.