BAE Systems Corporation showed the proposed 155mm artillery shell NGAA (Next Generation Adaptable Ammunition) created by its British “land” business, BAE Systems Land UK, at the defence exhibition DSEI-2023 held in London from September 12 to 15, 2023. According to an article published in “EDR Magazine,” this casing was developed to combine great performance with the capacity for mass manufacturing and decrease overall costs.
The Next Generation Adaptable Ammunition, or NGAA, projectile is currently in development to replace the primary family of conventional 155mm high-explosive shells known as the L15 that the British Army uses. This replacement is also being developed for the international market. The experiences gained from military operations in Ukraine served as the impetus for developing this projectile. These actions highlighted the problem of inadequate ammunition inventories in the armed forces and limited production capacity in the ammunition industry, which had been accustomed to extended periods of quiet.
In the process of designing the projectile, the major objective was to create an all-encompassing method to make it possible to manufacture ammunition with less specialised machinery, the machinery typically used in the manufacturing of civilian goods. Using this strategy would make it possible to rapidly reconfigure factories to produce large quantities of ammunition whenever necessary. This solution covers the whole supply chain, ensuring that components and firing elements can be produced with equipment readily accessible on the market.
The NGAA projectile will be made of commercial-grade steel, which can be bought from many different places, and its strength will probably be boosted by using tempering technology. Also, the missile shell should be one piece, not made up of several parts, and should have the same general shape no matter what shell it is.
The NGAA projectile is designed to be loaded with composite explosive materials of a new type. These materials, which are currently difficult to scale and require specialised equipment, are meant to be loaded onto the projectile. Therefore, BAE Systems is working on a technique for creating these explosives that will be known as Resonance Acoustic Mixing (RAM). According to BAE Systems, this technology will reduce the time needed for the production process from “hours to minutes,” dramatically cut prices, and be appropriate for large-scale production. Additionally, new explosive chemical solutions are being created, and it is anticipated that they will be introduced by the end of the year.
For the NGAA projectile, conventional mechanical fuzes are being replaced by a single entirely electronic and programmable fuze that is referred to as e-Fuze. It will make use of electronic components that are easily accessible. The fuze is going to be expandable, and it’s also going to be made in a version suitable for 127mm shipboard artillery shells.
The NGAA projectile is designed to have an improved aerodynamic shape and be modular, allowing for different types of payloads. In addition to the primary high-explosive payload, new smoke and illumination payloads are proposed, including those based on “New Generation Red Phosphorus.” The possibility of using other useful payloads (such as electronic warfare) is also considered in the future. The projectile should be equipped with a base bleed unit, which, when fired from a 155mm/52-caliber gun, will extend its range to up to 40 km, or with a rocket-assist unit, extending the range to 65 km. The projectile will be compatible with existing correction devices like Precision Guidance Kit (PGK).
Although the cost of the electronic e-Fuze is likely equal to that of existing mechanical fuzes, BAE Systems’ goal is to cut the cost of manufacturing the projectile itself by between 50 and 75 per cent. It is anticipated that prototypes of the NGAA projectile will be demonstrated by the time 2023 comes to a close.
The availability of shells measuring 155 millimetres on the European side is particularly concerning. The annual production of 155-millimeter shells in Europe is estimated to be nearly 300 thousand pieces. According to estimates in July, the Ukrainian Armed Forces spent nearly the same amount in three months, so Kyiv asked the EU to enhance supply and send at least 250 thousand 155-mm artillery shells to Ukraine each month.
A representative from one of the two Spanish makers of 155-mm artillery cannons, Fabrica de Municiones de Granada, noted that there are few plants in Europe producing TNT and nitrocellulose, and those that do exist are all operating at their maximum capacity. Because European firms are also engaged in producing high precision weapons, they have fewer resources available to make 155mm rounds in large quantities.