SADJ Visits ST Kinetics
In the ST Kinetics 40mm program, they offer both a standalone barrel, low-velocity, high/low-pressure 40 by 46-millimeter, and they also offer 40 by 53-millimeter high-velocity, high/low-pressure systems, as well as a very strong palette of different types of ammunition for those.
ST Kinetics currently has two automatic grenade launcher offerings. First is the very successful CIS-40 AGL, and then there is the new Lightweight AGL. Both automatic grenade launchers are in 40x53mm high/low systems with a high velocity. They use any NATO standard, NATO-type classified ammunition, as well as all of their proprietary ammunition that they maanufacture in Singapore. Both will use any other 40x53mm HV mil-spec ammunition. ST Kinetics recently delivered a shipment of 100 of the CIS-40 AGL to a very satisfied end user. SADJ was able to speak with the end users under condition of anonymity, and we found that the users were quite pleased with the reliability and accuracy of the system. The CIS-40 AGL can be mounted on remote weapon stations, which ST Kinetics also manufactures. The CIS-40 can be mounted on the lightweight tripod that they manufacture, as well as on standard M3 or other vehicle mounts. ST Kinetics manufactures the VSM-015 reflex sight for accuracy with the system. The CIS-40 AGL has four basic assemblies: the feed cover assembly, the trigger mechanism with rear sight assembly, the barrel and receiver assembly as one unit, and the bolt black plate assembly. The rate of fire is 350 to 500 rounds per minute and a maximum range of 2,200 meters. Weight is 33 kilograms, barrel length 350 mm and overall length 966 mm. Width of the firearm is 376 mm, and both are automatic grenade launchers with a single shot option.
ST Kinetics 40x46mm low-velocity and 40x53mm high-velocity ammunition families cover the full spectrum. There are some new products that bear serious consideration. They’ve also achieved the new medium-velocity family that’ll be reported about at the NDIA Small Arms Symposium in Dallas, Texas, USA in May 2010. There are anti-riot, practice, training, illumination, high explosive, dual purpose, and self-destruct fuze options. ST Kinetics fuzes are used by numerous 40mm manufacturers around the world because of the high quality of the fuzing that’s involved. The first cutting edge product that we reviewed was the 40mm ABMS (Air-Bursting Munition System).
The 40x46mm ABMS system (not shown) is retrofittable onto most existing 40x46mm shoulder fired launchers. It consists of a special type of munition and a fire control system (FCS). The projectile in this case is either set for point detonating or for air bursting. In air bursting, it receives instructions from the FCS; the operator lazes the range with the FCS, and there’s a ballistic computer inside. The FCS automatically computes the firing solution plus any adjustments the operator makes. When the round is fired from the grenade launcher, the fire control system sensor detects the projectile is leaving the muzzle, and at that point it programs the time until burst onto the fuze of the projectile. This is accomplished using radio frequency. This directional short range RF instruction is encrypted, and can not be readily tampered with. There is also a self-destruct built into the Low-Velocity ABMS fuze. Typical ABMS use envisioned at ST Kinetics is for bursting in front of a tank to take out optics or optical electronics; or they can be used to go over a foxhole or obstacle that enemy is using for cover; they can be used to launch inside of a building and time the burst inside a room, space, or cave.
The CIS 40 GL (not shown) is a standard break-open single shot 40 by 46-millimeter grenade launcher. On its standard platform it has a buttstock attached to it. If it’s going to be used as an under-barrel, it has a different mounting system that’s placed on it. It uses one folding (leaf) sight, graduated in 50-millimeter increments. It’s a very simple design, where the barrel kicks open to the left at the back for loading almost any variety, including gas and baton rounds for a 40 by 46-millimeter. The weight unloaded with the stock is 2.05 kilograms and the barrel length is 305 millimeters. Overall length with the stock attached is 655 millimeters, and it has a 2.3 kilogram trigger pull. It can be adapted to the SAR-21, the M16 and HK series weapons, and ST Kinetics says that they can adapt it to almost any other system.
In our conversation with Brigadier General Patrick Choy (retired), who’s the Executive Vice President of International Marketing, we were exploring the newest munition for 40mm called the Enhanced Blast and Sensitive Explosive Munition – EBIX for short. General Choy explained how they had been searching for an insensitive energetic material to use in 40mm munitions as their current 40mms have Composition A-5 as an energetic material. They came up with a product they call MX-09, which did the job and was low on the level of propagation in storage, and this energetic material has a 3.2 times blast increase and detonation wave as a side benefit. ST Kinetics engineers began experimenting and now they can offer 40x46mm and 40x53mm EBIX rounds that actually increase the blast, increase the detonation wave and the incapacitating effect. They also increase the fireball, which can propagate to adjacent areas and incapacitate targets that cannot be reached by the projectile fragments. The blast pressure is intensified in any confined area. Considering the current operational needs of many of today’s military forces working in confined spaces or in caves, an EBIX round is a very good option for removing enemy who are deeply entrenched in confined spaces.
Many 40mm manufacturers are experimenting with some type of parachute aerial reconnaissance camera, and ST Kinetics is using a 40x46mm round that is approximately the same size as a standard 40mm parachute-illuminating round. This is the 40mm SPARCS (Soldier Parachute Aerial Reconnaissance Camera System). This requires no retrofit to use in any standard 40x46mm launcher that will accept that length cartridge (135mm). The weight of the complete round is 220 grams and it uses a standard percussion primer to launch. The projectile carries a CMOS camera that points straight down when hung from the parachute providing top-down aerial views of a target area. Rather than using a video stream, which, in ST Kinetics testing, was too difficult for the operator to look at and identify important features, the images are stitched together and it actually produces up to 42 digital photos stitched into one. The images from the camera on real-time are sent wirelessly to a receiving station, and that could be any computing device attached with a wireless receiver. Then they automatically stitch these images together with software compatible to most operating systems. Composite images can be transmitted to other personnel who are carrying handheld devices, or to higher echelons for review. This means an individual soldier’s PDA can receive aerial photographs of an area that he’s launched the SPARCS round above, providing valuable and probably life-saving Intel that could not be achieved in other manners.
40x53mm ABMS, the high-velocity air-bursting munition system is a different type of programming system from the low-velocity. The low-velocity is restricted in its weight because it’s a shoulder-fired/carried unit. The automatic grenade launcher is a tripod or RWS mounted system in 40x53mm and has a range out to 2,200 meters. This allows for a slightly heavier FCS to do the programming. These rounds also have the self-destruct feature built in, keeping the area clear of unexploded ordnance. These can be retrofitted to almost any existing 40x53mm, such as the HK GMG, the CIS-40 AGL, the Lightweight AGL, and the Mark 19 series. The system is composed of a Fire Control System and an Ammunition Programmer. The Ammunition Programmer is a cylindrical piece that is mounted onto the front of a barrel. The operator of the weapon system laser range finds his distance for where his air burst will be using the FCS, and he can quickly add or subtract distance to that if he’d like. He can set it so that there is a series of air bursts, so that they’re several meters apart, so when you fire the full auto rounds into an area, they’re bursting every few meters, putting a spread of fragmentation down and lethally cover an area. The High Velocity AGL model of the ABMS operates in the following manner: as the fired projectile passes through the first inductive coil at the base of the muzzle attachment, a signal is sent to the Fire Control System, telling it that the projectile is leaving. The second coil is programmed and the information is passed directly to the grenade that is leaving as it passes through the coil. It’s not an RF system in the manner of the low velocity shoulder fired ABMS. This communication is given directly through contact as it passes through the second inductive coil. Since the round is programmed as it’s leaving, there are no safety hazards of accidentally arming a round while it’s still inside the barrel or inductive coil. The fuze is in the base of the projectile, a design necessary to perform the programming that also protects the operators because the fragments that come off of it generally are flying forward and that large fuze base keeps the fragmentation from flying backwards.
Singapore Technologies Kinetics, a company of ST Engineering, Kinetics Marketing Group
249 Jalan Boon Lay
The author would like to thank Mr. Chow Ming Wong, Assistant Vice President of the Kinetics Marketing Group; Brigadier General Patrick Choy, Ret.), the Executive Vice President of International Marketing, Mr. Horn Wai Leong, the Senior Manager for Sales and Marketing, and Mr. Cheng Hok Aw, the Vice President of the Engineering Division, as well as the other engineers at ST Kinetics who helped out during our visit.
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