The CTAS is described by several components; 40mm CT Cannon (CTC), Ammunition Handling System (AHS), CTAS Controller (CTAS-C), Gun Control Equipment (GCE), Gun Mount and a range of ammunition.
The gun is designed to be compact.
As can be seen from the images below, the payload is fully contained within the case, this is what is meant by ‘case telescoped’, the main reason to do this is space efficiency.
CTAI are marketing six ammunition natures.
The first of these is the Armour Piercing Fin Stabilised Discarding Sabot – Tracer (APFSDS-T) that is designed to defeat armoured vehicles such as infantry fighting vehicles and legacy tanks (although thinking that it can defeat modern tanks would be incorrect, and possibly dangerous), able to penetrate 140 mm of RHA (Rolled Homogeneous Armour) at 1500 m.
The Target Practice Reduced Round – Tracer (TPRR-T), is used for training, is cheaper, and results in much less barrel wear. A normal range Target Practice – Tracer (TP-T) is also available.
There are two general purpose rounds, one point detonating (General Purpose Round – Point Detonating – Tracer (GPR-PD-T)) and the other providing an airburst capability (General Purpose Round – Point Detonating – Tracer (GPR-ab-T)) which can be used against troops on a reverse slope or behind light cover for example, it can also be used in point detonating mode.
The image below shows a fragmentation comparison between a 30mm airburst round (left) and the 40mm GPR-AB
The lethal area for the airburst nature at 1,500m is 125m2.
The point detonating nature can penetrate 210mm of reinforced concrete at 1,500m.
The Anti-Aerial Air Burst (A3B) has a longer range and a payload of tungsten pellets designed to defeat airborne targets.
Not all have these have yet been qualified but work continues to build on the initial qualification of the find and practice rounds.
The round is inserted into the breech block through the trunion and the rotating breech block then aligns it with the barrel, thus eliminating the need for flexible feed guides. There are a couple of variation but the UK version will have a dual feed system, most likely loaded with the APFDS and GPR, although other mixes may be used depending upon requirements. The system can swap from one to the in less than 3 seconds.
A fire control system designed and manufactured by Ultra is the final component of the system,
Anecdotally, the cost of the new ammunition is said to be ‘eye watering’, reliability and supportability have also yet to be determined in service.
Although work has recently concentrated on bringing the system into service CTAI have also carried out a number of studies on larger calibre (105mm), guided submunitions and a 12.7mm version.
Testing has also confirmed the suitability of the 40mm CTAS for use in remote and unmanned mounts, including dual/triple feed and non-penetrating options.
The image below shows a non-penetrating remote mount fitted to a French VAB combat vehicle.
CTAI have also proposed a number of naval applications for the CTAS but the most recent development is the Thales RAPIDFire system, designed to destroy helicopters, unmanned vehicles and combat aircraft.
The RAPIDFire vehicle can be integrated with a number of air defence systems and uses the specialised air defence ammunition that contained 200 tungsten pellets. Rather than using a very high rate of fire, RAPIDFire is designed to fire fewer but more effective air bursting rounds at the target. It can carry 140 rounds in the turret, ready to fire. Effective range is claimed to be 4,000m and up to 6 vehicles can be integrated with a single control module for wide area coverage, including fire control for Starstreak/HVM missiles. An independent EO/IR sensor can also be used with detection ranges in excess of 18km.
In 2013, Aviation Week reported interest in an aircraft version;
With Airbus recently reported to be interested in developing ISTAR/combat payload enhancements for the A400M and the recent success of the C-295 Gunship conversions for Jordan, this may be one to watch.