IDEF 2015: Oto Melara showcases for the first time its 20 mm Gunship air-to-ground gun system 0705154

Online Show Daily News
IDEF 2015
International Defence Industry Fair

05 - 08 May 2015
Istanbul , Turkey
Oto Melara 20 mm Gunship at IDEF 2015
IDEF 2015: Oto Melara showcases for the first time its 20 mm Gunship air-to-ground gun system
At IDEF 2015, which is held in Istanbul from 5-8 May, Italian company Oto Melara is showcasing for the first time the new 20mm Gunship for which commercial contacts with the Turkish aeronautic company TAI have already started. Gunship by Oto Melara is a palletized air-to-ground gun system, designed to be operated from military cargo aircraft, such as C130s (all versions), C27s or any other which has a standard military pallet (88’x108’) capability.
IDEF 2015 Oto Melara showcases for the first time its 20 mm Gunship air to ground gun system 640 002Oto Melara Gunship 20 mm air-to-ground gun system at IDEF 2015
In the present day stand-alone configuration, the Gunship system is self contained in a single cargo pallet, which carries the Vulcan 20mm Gatling gun mount and servos, a complete high-precision electro- optical Fire Control System (FCS), the gunner workstation, a 750 rds magazine (20x102mm linked), GPS reference, inertial system and all the electronics and power systems.

Total weight is 3.200lbs, including operator and a full magazine, but no ballistic protection. Gunship requires no integration or modifications to the aircraft: fire is through the left hand paratroop door and the pallet is secured to the floor with the existing locking levers.

The system is fully self-powered for about 30 minutes, but accepts gladly backup electric power from any cargo bay outlets (AC or DC), and is plugged to the aircraft ICS via standard connectors, also available in the bay.

This means that Gunship can be rapidly loaded on board with a normal fork lift, connected to the aircraft in seconds so that a standard cargo aircraft is ready to operate as a Gunship in just a few minutes.

After the mission is completed, if needed, the pallet is easily off-loaded and the aircraft goes back to its standard cargo role: should the aircraft carrying Gunship fail before takeoff, the system shall be off-loaded in a few minutes and placed on board a serviceable one, and the mission not aborted.

Gunship is capable of very accurate air-to-ground fire and can deliver an impressive payload in a relatively short burst, owing to the Vulcan gun very high rate of fire (4.000 rounds per minute).

Whenever tactically desirable, the system can deliver also saturation fire over designated areas, thanks to the large number of ready to fire round.

The Gunship system has been developed with the financial backing of the R&D Department of the Italian MoD, in accordance with a Special Forces requirement for airborne precision/long endurance fire support.

Thanks to the excellent Oto Melara experience in gunnery, ballistics and system integration, the prototype has been completed in less than one year, and more than 1,000 test rounds were fired in the company range during system development.

Last October the Gunship prototype has been delivered to the Italian Air Force Flight Test facility in Pratica di mare (Rome) in order to be certified for flight (on the C27J) and test fired in an air-to- ground range: all these tests, weather permitting, should be completed by April 2015. Last third of March the system on board the C27J has been flown to the Italian Air Force air-to- ground range of Capo Frasca, in Sardinia, and test-fired airborne for the first time.

One dry and eleven hot runs were flown, 50 rds each, for a total of 550 rds fired in a single sortie., at altitudes from 1.500 to 3.700ft, up to a slant range of .9 Nautical mile (about 1.700 meters). Despite aiming was manual via the EO system, all bursts were observed on/around the target, quantitative evaluation through high speed videos and ground targets conditions is now in progress.

This test has been very successful, so following the quantitative analysis the system will be fine- tuned for precision (we expect a final CEP (50 percent of the rounds within this distance from target) lower than 4 meters at 2.000m slant range ( 5.000ft altitude, with projectile flight-path 50°-60° below the horizon) and a larger one from higher up, most likely 10-12 meters from 10.000ft. Following this tune-up we plan another hot sortie for the next month.

In the present configuration, the weapon (the 20mm Vulcan M61) has been carefully chosen for its high rate of fire, small dimensions and contained recoil forces (which can significantly affect the system precision); other guns were evaluated, but, in any case, for air-to-ground (as for air-to-air) Gatling type guns should be always preferred.

At present the only possible alternative is the 25mm GAU/12 or 22 Gatling gun, with longer range and increased payload delivery, but with significant system cost and increased total weight.

An external C4ISR interface with Satcom/tactical Data Link can provide the pilot/operator with abundant target data, maps, pictures, and deliver ground HQ videos of the mission/attack result.

A dedicated C4ISR palletized system is now under development by an Italian company, in order to provide the gunner with whatever info can maximise the mission effectiveness and perform as a command post for the Special Forces operation on the ground which Gunship is planned to support.

For larger aircraft, such as all the C130s, a higher capacity ammo magazine can be fitted (up to 1.500-2.000 ready to fire rounds, that is twice the present one) and more performing E/O sensors, without endangering the very flexible and tactically valuable stand-alone single-pallet configuration.