By Paolo Valpolini
The presence of a new product at Nexter’s booth at the EDEX exhibition was visible only on one of the walls, a poster showing what should soon become a new product, the ARX 30 medium-calibre remotely controlled weapon turret. “There was a logic in increasing the calibre of our RCWS, the only way to do it without moving to a much bigger category of systems being the adoption of the 30×113 mm calibre which has a shorter effective range compared to the 25 mm but ensures a much higher terminal effect, allowing the use of proximity fuses, which are a must when we think in terms of anti-drone capabilities,” Olivier Lequeux, Nexter Turrets Marketing Director, tells EDR On-Line, underlining that Nexter is not thinking much in terms of commercial drones but rather at small-size military drones and loitering munitions, exploiting lessons learned from Dombass and Nagorno-Karabakh.
Many of the building blocks were already in house when the programme was launched. The main one is certainly the 30M781 cannon, which equips Airbus’ Tiger combat helicopter. “On board that helicopter the cannon is powered with a 110V/400 Hz, so the main difference is that for the land application we adopted a 24V DC power supply,” Olivier Lequeux explains. Although the recoil force is higher compared to that of the 20 mm cannon, 650 daN versus 250 daN, strengthening the ARX 20 mounting frame proved to be sufficient. As the weight is not very dissimilar, actuators remained the same. Leveraging the work done on previous systems allowed Nexter to carry out a rapid development programme, “the system has already fired successfully, but it is not yet qualified,” the company Turret Marketing Director underlines. In terms of weight the ARX 20 is rated at 250-350 kg, depending on protection level and number of rounds, the ARX 30 adding only 50 extra kilograms to those figures. On the ARX 20 the ammo magazine can contain between 100 and 200 rounds, a minimum of 100 being also the possible choice for the 30 mm system, the maximum number of rounds will probably be slightly lower.
Elaborating a bit more on the anti drone mission seen from Nexters offices in Satory, Olivier Lequeux explains that the company is considering the anti-drone market, with very short distance effectors and sensors, such as short-range radars in the GHz bands, acoustic systems, these having an even shorter detection range but being capable of high discrimination, while a secondary soft-kill effector, such as an electromagnetic cannon might also be a choice. MC2 technologies. This might well lead to a common turret capable of accepting different types of cannon in different calibres
. The idea is to have a production line capable to produce a mount that is customised with only a few dedicated subcomponents, the most critical one being probably the sighting system, as ranges and external ballistics are pretty different between the possible cannons. It is safe to say that at Eurosatory 2022 the area hosting company turrets might well show some interesting novelty that might give customers an additional option for fighting back drones compared to the Rapid Fire, the system developed in cooperation with Thales, armed with the CTAI 40 mm telescoped case gun.
Photos by P. Valpolini