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Artillery Logistics Lessons.

Is there anything wrong with supplying a standardized round on the open market while at the same time permitting people to innovate with new designs?
Nothing wrong at all and there is one - the M107 projectile is about as standard as you can get. It's manufactured in numerous countries albeit under a different designation - M107 in the US, South Korea and Canada, L21 in the UK, DM21 in Germany. It's a cheap and lacklustre round. Cheap and lacklustre is fine for training and brute force massed fires.

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GDOTS Canada would welcome a large standard order that kept the lines open. There is no reason why they couldn't do what NAMMO is doing and spend some of the profits generated from that standard line to develop innovations like the ramjet projectile.
You ignore the fact that it is only a Canadian subsidiary of a larger US based firm.

Outside of CAF contracts, it gets is sailing directions from the parent down here. Pre Russian invasion of Ukraine, that direction had been to focus solely on the CA’s very limited acquisitions.
 
3D printing and Solid Rocket Motors.

Until very recently, the two main providers of SRMs in the United States have been Northrop Grumman and Aerojet Rocketdyne, now owned by L3Harris. That market duopoly is rapidly becoming a thing of the past.

In June, defense firm Anduril announced its acquisition of the small solid rocket motor firm Adranos, a purchase aimed at scaling up Adranos’s production capacity to compete with larger primes as a supplier for missiles, hypersonics and other systems. Anduril founder Palmer Luckey told Breaking Defense at the time that the intent is to put the company’s skill in use of artificial intelligence tools and automation to work on producing SRMs “all the way from Javelin-class all the way up to intermediate range missiles.”

In September, the Pentagon announced that it awarded $64 million to a New Mexico startup X-Bow Systems, which DoD said in a release would “expand manufacturing capacity and reduce the production cost of solid rocket motors used in hypersonic weapons.” In particular, the contract is designed to bring on X-Bow as a new supplier for the Navy’s Conventional Prompt Strike program as well as the Army’s Long-Range Hypersonic Weapon, which share a common hypersonic glide body.

On Nov. 16, X-Bow announced a new round of funding that included investment by Lockheed Martin Ventures, the defense behemoth’s investment arm, as well as private capital firms. Indeed, Lockheed Martin has embarked on a “campaign” to find new suppliers of SRM technologies.

WASHINGTON — Rocket engine maker Ursa Major is the latest company to join the increasingly crowded race to fill the Pentagon’s skyrocketing demand for solid rocket motors (SRMs) — as the Defense Department stares down a gaping hole in missile inventories in the wake of the war in Ukraine.

Describing the solid rocket motor market as “plagued by a broken supply chain and an overextended industrial base,” the Colorado startup today announced its plans to use its 3D printing techniques developed for liquid rocket engines to speed production of solid-fuel propulsion systems. Ursa Major has received several contracts from the Air Force Research Laboratory for its work on a new rocket engine for heavy space launch vehicles, as well as a hypersonic engine.

“Traditional SRM providers rely on production lines that are difficult to re-tool, expensive to ramp up, and dependent on a significant workforce to operate,” the company said in a press release touting its “new approach” to manufacturing, dubbed Lynx.

“Ursa Major is offering a new way to scale production of SRMs,” Ursa Major CEO Joe Laurienti said in the press release. “Lynx meets the defense industry’s need for a faster, cheaper, scalable, and flexible SRM production process that results in better-performing solid rocket motors.”

Besides the use of 3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, the company is revamping the traditional approach to propellant manufacturing that saw specific fuel mixes for specific types of rocket motors.

“Additionally, the motor design is intended to allow for common propellants used across multiple applications. This approach could address supply chain challenges often associated with developing bespoke propellants for each individual motor application and could enable increased collaboration with other industry partners,” the release explained.

Too bad there aren't any Canadian companies that know anything about Solid Rocket Motors with long shelf lifes.

 
How to speed up the supply of 155s. Lower standards.


Excessive requirements are a big problem. To eke the maximum safety, shelf-life, and performance out of each and every shell, Western artillery ammunition is over-engineered—and then, on top of already daunting engineering requirements, the shells are subjected to an array of boutique national requirements.

Having each Western shell lovingly crafted to the exacting tolerances of a Formula 1 race-car engine offers measurable benefit. In ideal circumstances, Allied artillery systems outrange, outfire and hit harder than equivalent Russian systems. But conditions are no longer as ideal.

Put another way, precision ammunition machining doesn’t make much difference when the shell goes up an overused gun barrel that, in peacetime, would have long been consigned to the scrapheap thousands of shells ago.

This isn’t to say that precision weapons aren’t needed, but a rough-and-ready “deployable” shell—just like the rough and ready M-109 self-propelled gun—is perfectly fine for repulsing Russian human wave attacks. Precision aiming is less of a concern when Ukraine fighters just want to keep hungry and cold Russian conscripts heads-down in their trenches.

Western ammunition is also designed with long-term storage in mind. With a big conventional war long being pretty much an “unthinkable” thing for Europe, frequent artillery employment was secondary to the West’s pursuit of long-term ammunition stability. Long-term ammunition reliability and easy decommissioning after lengthy storage have dominated Western shell requirements.
 
Ah yes let’s ignore QC and safety and see how that goes…

You'd be surprised at the excessive payers of 'muda', or wasteful processes etc, added by many manufacturing sector organizations to their products.

Especially in North America:


“Eighty percent of American managers cannot answer with any measure of confidence these seemingly simple questions: What is my job? What in it really counts? How well am I doing?”

— W. Edwards Deming
 
A bit of a difference between manufacturing a shell that will never be used and one that will be used tomorrow.
 
Another random observation following the Belograd and Kiev missile/drone attacks: route planning with the expectation of having some shot down in order to maximize collateral ground damage from falling debris.

Russia seems to plan to hit civilian targets and uses nearby potentially military targets to justify the strike claiming 'oops' and shrugging it off as inaccurate guidance or because of Ukrainian GBAD actions.

Ukraine is new to the game but should look at their route planning with an eye to the PR hit if Russian GBAD succeeds and the debris falls on civilians.
 
Ah yes let’s ignore QC and safety and see how that goes…

You'd be surprised at the excessive payers of 'muda', or wasteful processes etc, added by many manufacturing sector organizations to their products.

Especially in North America:


“Eighty percent of American managers cannot answer with any measure of confidence these seemingly simple questions: What is my job? What in it really counts? How well am I doing?”

— W. Edwards Deming

A bit of a difference between manufacturing a shell that will never be used and one that will be used tomorrow.


With high running accuracy, high-speed performance, and high system rigidity, SKF super-precision bearings are ideal for machine tools and other precision applications, such as high-speed finishing stands for steel wire, racing cars engines and transmissions, and innovative fluid treatment applications. The bearings also minimize noise, vibration, and heat generation.

With the most comprehensive assortment available, you can choose bearings to suit your specific performance needs. We also offer bearing customization, global access to our application knowledge, and service centres in 15 countries worldwide.

Our assortment includes different bearings’ steel grades, including SKF’s trademarked NitroMax (for specific designs), giving you up to three times longer service life than standard steel bearings and hybrid bearings with ceramic rolling elements, particularly suited for high-speed applications. New advanced materials and designs are under implementation and will soon become available to support your need for productivity increase.

I think what the author of the article was alluding to is reflected in articles like SKF bearings. You can buy a bearing that will run without a wobble at thousands of rpms for years but it will cost you. Or you can buy a bearing that will run adequately at a low speed for a season for a lot less and replace it every year.
 
I think



I think what the author of the article was alluding to is reflected in articles like SKF bearings. You can buy a bearing that will run without a wobble at thousands of rpms for years but it will cost you. Or you can buy a bearing that will run adequately at a low speed for a season for a lot less and replace it every year.
You are drawing a poor parallel by that.

Sure you could make a cheaper worse shell, but you will loose accuracy, lethality and cause potentially a lot of other unknown problems.

The casing is machined the way it is to optimize lethality in bursting, and its aerodynamics, the body or that doesn’t even touch the barrel, the drive band does. Also then when you have cut corners on the projectile casing, how are you ensuring the fuze will fit correctly?

The filling, it not just stable for years, it’s also very shock insensitive, so while we see Russian ammunition loves to denote on impacts with it, Western Ammo is designed to provide a much larger safety margin.

Fuses, generally the largest costing aspect of the projectile is the fuse. Safety, lethality and accuracy/dispersion are all at play here, so…

The issue with Western ammunition isn’t the manufacturing methods, and anyway most producers are looking into ways to do it at a larger scale, more economically. The issue is that for years the West has ignored Artillery production, and scaled to support small annual usage.
 
I think

You are drawing a poor parallel by that.

Sure you could make a cheaper worse shell, but you will loose accuracy, lethality and cause potentially a lot of other unknown problems.

The casing is machined the way it is to optimize lethality in bursting, and its aerodynamics, the body or that doesn’t even touch the barrel, the drive band does. Also then when you have cut corners on the projectile casing, how are you ensuring the fuze will fit correctly?

The filling, it not just stable for years, it’s also very shock insensitive, so while we see Russian ammunition loves to denote on impacts with it, Western Ammo is designed to provide a much larger safety margin.

Fuses, generally the largest costing aspect of the projectile is the fuse. Safety, lethality and accuracy/dispersion are all at play here, so…

The issue with Western ammunition isn’t the manufacturing methods, and anyway most producers are looking into ways to do it at a larger scale, more economically. The issue is that for years the West has ignored Artillery production, and scaled to support small annual usage.

The argument made in the article I posted is that shells and barrels are a matched set, as I know you are aware. A precision shot is a result of a tight fit between the barrel and round. The search for precision and range has resulted in highly crafted shells being manufactured.

What the article argues is that the Ukrainians are making good use out of ancient Soviet guns and rusty rounds, of NATO barrels that are well past their 6000 round life expectancy and have had their lands shot out of them, and of short range 105mm rounds fired from M118s, M119s and L5s.

A lot of those rounds are being expended WW1 style and not being employed at range or with any great precision. They are being used for suppression and harassment.

My sense of what is being suggested is that a regiment might have a battery of guns with new barrels that are husbanded for the long range, precision work, but after the first couple of thousand rounds, as the barrels wear, then those guns, or barrels would be retasked to more general service roles while another battery is refitted with new barrels.

Those batteries with worn barrels that are tasked with suppression are looking for lots of rounds to dump on the enemy at short ranges.

Would you waste match grade ammunition in a C6?
 
Ah yes let’s ignore QC and safety and see how that goes…
The article isn't arguing for ignoring QC and safety. It's arguing for eliminating measures designed to provide long shelf life (an irrelevant requirement for Ukraine) and the greatest possible accuracy. Shells manufactured to WWII standards would be good enough.
 
The article isn't arguing for ignoring QC and safety. It's arguing for eliminating measures designed to provide long shelf life (an irrelevant requirement for Ukraine) and the greatest possible accuracy. Shells manufactured to WWII standards would be good enough.
I’d suggest the author isn’t familiar with Artillery shell manufacturing.

Part of the factor of a long shelf life is the explosive filler. How much money do you think you will save chasing and testing a shock insensitive filler that doesn’t last as long? I suspect none and there will be a large cost to it on top.

Adaptive manufacturing is already being tested for casing bodies, but one of the biggest complaints about Projectile casing current manufacturing technology is that it’s using WW2 methods.

Accuracy/Dispersion, the majority of this comes from the propellant charge bag (outside PGM CCF’s) , and this is the cheapest part of the shell. Sure you can save a dollar or two on crappier propellant that doesn’t last as long, and has uneven burning so erratic pressure curves - but why? It’s a rounding error in the total cost.

@Kirkhill barrel costing is another rounding error, if your shooting 6-7k rounds, the cost of a new barrel is relatively insignificant compared to the ammo, and replacing them isn’t generally an extremely arduous task for a trained set of techs. But even with that, the cost of lesser ammo isn’t going to be significantly cheaper.

The price between linked ball and sniper match small arms ammo is significant. But you’re looking at even larger differences between PGM shells and regular arty ammunition. The analogy you use isn’t relevant as just because third world shit hole ammo can work sometimes, it doesn’t make it a good choice.
 
I’d suggest the author isn’t familiar with Artillery shell manufacturing.
I'm with you on this.

The costs of retooling, especially in the time that it takes, wouldn't be worth the squeeze. Add into that various tests that would need to be conducted to certify the ammunition and in the long run it would simply be cheaper to add shifts or expand plants to do more of what is already being done.

I think that you will find that whatever efficiencies can be built into the system are already there for the most part because more efficient plants mean higher profits. What has been curtailing output has more to do with plants being tuned for peacetime scales of production than. Adjusting to higher scales requires some level of assurance to the manufacturer that he will recoup the capital costs of expansion.

Just a point on barrel life. Barrels are rated in effective full charges (EFC). Most rounds are fired at less than 1 EFC so barrel life is usually double or more in rounds fired than that of the number of rated EFCs. On top of that, most artillery units have devices to measure muzzle velocity (our M777s have them permanently installed on each gun) That gives you the ability to group guns with similar tube wear and adjust the fall of shot for reduced velocities for each individual gun and thus retain accuracy. Regardless there will eventually come a time when a barrel needs replacing. Some guns can be done in the field with the right techs and equipment, others need to go back to a workshop for that but all of those are preconditioned on replacement barrels being available. In peacetime that's not a big issue - in wartime with very high usage it can be a problem sourcing them.

A new procurement strategy is needed to speed things up - not just lesser specs


Good article.

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Seemed to work pretty well during WWll and Korea.
A lot of folks seem to be equating a National Wartime Production strategy with poor QC etc.

It isn’t, we could build a lot more shells, vehicles etc. We just haven’t restructured our production to deal with the realities of current times.

What we need is more production facilities making war materials, not the same facilities we have making crappier stuff, because that realistically will be at the same scale.
 
A lot of folks seem to be equating a National Wartime Production strategy with poor QC etc.

It isn’t, we could build a lot more shells, vehicles etc. We just haven’t restructured our production to deal with the realities of current times.

What we need is more production facilities making war materials, not the same facilities we have making crappier stuff, because that realistically will be at the same scale.
I work in QC now. I'm actually looking at rejecting a contract right now because the supplier failed to meet the shelf life requirements specified.

Agreed - we need to maintain QC, whilst expanding the production capability.

There was a time that the phrase "Quantity has a quality all it's own" worked....now, with our tech base, that's not the path we've followed. We need quality hardware, in greater quantity.

In WW2, the STEN gun was created because the British Army left most of their machine guns in France at a place called Dunkirk. They needed to re-arm, and at the same time EXPAND their army. There were only 2-3 factories in the UK which had the tooling and gauges to build the Lee Enfield and BREN. There was no ability to quickly expand those facilities, nor to have other small shops (ie a bike shop with a lathe) turn out parts for either of those weapons. So they created the STEN. A gun that had only 2 parts which actually required precision machining - the bolt and the barrel.

Any cottage industry shop had the equipment to manufacture the STEN. And they did.

For the cost of making 1x BREN gun, they could manufacture 4x Lee Enfield rifles. For the cost of making 1x Lee Enfield, they could manufacture 4X STENS. However, more importantly, they could manufacture a STEN in almost any factory in the country, whilst only Fazakerly and Enfield Lock could make the BREN and Enfields.

So, they found a means to engage the rest of the nation in arms production, they equipped an army, and had leftovers to drop into France for the partisans.

If you look at our industries today, there's only so many companies in the western world able to manufacture a howitzer barrel. Or the hull of a tank. Those facilities are strategic production facilities, and they are VERY difficult to expand on short notice.

We've been supporting a full scale shooting war for almost 2 years now, where we're not actually doing the shooting, we're just handing over ammo and weapons for someone else to use, and we're running out of stuff to hand over.

On the other hand, so are the Russians, as seen by their use of North Korean artillery ammo.

Looking at the global situation, there's a need for increased national strategic production capability. I don't think we're good at doing that.

Looking at how well we dealt with expanding our health care sector over the past 3+ years following a global pandemic, I think that gives some insight as to how long it takes to build strategic capacity. There's not a single new hospital bed in Halifax since the spring of 2020.
 
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