DIMDEX 2024 – John Cockerill Defence unveils new anti-drone solution for 30 mm gun

Luca Peruzzi

During DIMDEX 2024 exhibition, John Cockerill Defence (JCD) unveiled for the first time details about its new anti-drone solution for the 30 mm gun. The latter is expected to be available by the end of 2024

During a two-week live-firing campaign held on a range in Bulgaria just prior to the exhibition, JCD has successfully completed a first set of drone hard-kill tests using its own internally developed and artificial intelligence (AI)-based solution to be applied to the company C1030 and C3030 turrets. The tests and follow-on live fire campaign were conducted against drones of various sizes, flying at different speeds, with the Northrop Grumman 30×173 mm Mk 44S calibre cannon and its programmable air-bust ammunition (ABM), but could be applied to other guns and ABM rounds of the same calibre, according to Simon Haye, John Cockerill Defence Chief Marketing Officer, speaking with EDR On-Line.

Developed to defeat the challenging threats represented by small Class 1 drones that feature extremely low radar, visual and infrared signature, the JCD developed AI software-based auto-tracker can be applied to company turrets enhancing their capabilities to meet the requirements drawn by the latest crisis and battlefield scenarios.

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“In order to defeat drones, a number of elements need to be combined,” Haye said, unveiling the new solution. Utilizing a standard radar to detect and transmit the location of the target to the turret, the gunner’s sight system is then automatically directed towards the target.

“Using JCD AI-based auto-tracker, the turret is capable to lock onto the target and anticipate its movements thanks to the AI solution, keeping it under track. In parallel, the JCD fire control computer calculates the optimal detonation point for the 30 mm programmable air-burst ammunition. This information is used to aim the main gun, and programme the projectile during the firing sequence, to ensure a high probability of defeating the target,” the company’s Chief Marketing Officer explained.

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Depending on the option selected by the gunner, the fire control solution can calculate either a single-shot or a three round burst firing sequence. “During the first trial campaign in Bulgaria the new suite was capable to defeat small Class 1 drones at ranges of approximately 1,000 meters using a single 30 mm programmable ABM round. Further developments and firing campaigns will be conducted during the year, with the aim to have the system qualified and ready by year-end,” Haye told EDR On-Line.

The JCD system is software-based, and can therefore be used with different guns, optronics and turret fire control systems. It is compatible with the recently adopted NATO SAPIENT (Sensing for Asset Protection with Integrated Electronic Network Technology), which means that targeting information can be received from any compatible sensor system.

JCD intends to present and participate with the new system to the NATO’s C-UAS Technical Interoperability Exercise 2024 (TIE24) in Vredepeel, Netherlands, to be held next September. 

Photos courtesy JCD