Saturday, 20 December 2014
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Fired up for launch

Significant developments have been brewing in BAE Systems' ground vehicles division, from the Supacat unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) in Australia to a mobile cannon in North America.

The non-line-of-sight (NLOS) Cannon firing platform, which is undergoing testing at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona, has now fired more than 1,500 rounds. The fully automated howitzer aims to fire 4,400 rounds by early this year to gain safety certification before prototype testing.

Information collected from the tests will inform the building of the first Future Combat Systems manned ground vehicle, the NLOS Cannon pre-production prototype, which is scheduled for delivery this year.

The cannon features a lightweight, 38-calibre, fully automated 155mm howitzer that can hold 155mm projectiles and modular artillery charge system propelling charges.

The automation will allow troops in the two-person crew compartment to fire rounds with the push of a button, eliminating the need to handle ammunition.


The NLOS mobile cannon enables the crew to fire rounds with just a push of a button

On the other side of the world, the all-terrain mobility platform (as the Supacat MK3 is officially known) has used its newly integrated autonomous technologies to successfully drive and navigate itself around a 100-acre (405,000m2) paddock at BAE Systems' UAV flight test facility in West Sale, Australia.

The 6x6 drive, two-litre turbo diesel engine vehicle weighs 1,690kg and has a range of 500km. While it has autonomous capabilities, it retains the platform's manual drive capability to widen the operation mode options. When driving autonomously, however, sensors such as dual scanning laser range finders (devices that use a laser beam to determine the distance to a reflective object), and a stabilised electro-optical/infra-red turret with continuous pan and inertial measurement unit/global positioning system track the road and avoid obstacles independently.

The UGV's autonomous vehicle system and mission command system were derived from those developed for BAE Systems' unmanned air vehicles, such as the Kingfisher and the Herti. Its payload capacity measures 1,000kg in weight, a volume of 2.5m3 and 2.1kW of power.


The Supacat all-terrain mobility platform can drive and navigate itself


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