DSEi 2003


© Anthony G Williams


The  Defence Systems & Equipment international exhibition was held in the ExCel exhibition centre in London's Docklands in early September of 2003. The exhibits included a very wide variety of equipment, but what follows are some notes and illustrations concerning subjects of particular interest to me. Some of the pictures were taken at the exhibition, others scanned from brochures picked up there.


Assault Rifles


HK G36 : this was fine to handle, the most obvious advantage over the M16 being the folding stock, which permits a much shorter overall length (at the cost of a couple of seconds delay while swinging it back into line). The salesman there believed that the XM8 may be trying out plastic-cased ammo (presumably plastic with a metal head). He didn't know anything about the new 6.8 mm cartridge but he did say that HK are working on a version of the G36 in 7.62 x 51 NATO to meet US interests! (I did check to ensure that he didn't mean 7.62 x 39). A hydraulic buffer will reportedly be used to manage recoil. I am sceptical about this; a buffer may soften the recoil blow but it won't cancel out the recoil, which will still push the barrel skywards especially given the G36's light weight.


Three views of G36 variants from their brochure: the standard G36 weighing 3.6kg with a 480 mm barrel and lengths of 998/758 mm, the G36K (3.3 kg, 320 mm and 860/615 mm) - the gun shown is the KV which appears identical except for simpler sights leading to a weight of 3.0 kg - and the G36C (2.8 kg, 228 mm and 720/500 mm).  Actually at the show I took this shot of the G36C (bottom) and G36K, with the AG36 40 mm grenade launcher in between (complete with replacement foregrip).


The HK stand also featured their reworked L85A2 and L86A2 LSW, the latter pic also showing the 40mm HK grenade launcher with the associated replacement foregrip.


FN F2000: I was a bit dubious when I saw this, the fat plastic stock and general design looked rather like a space-age toy. However, doubts disappeared as soon as I picked it up; it is beautifully balanced, with the CG being right on the pistol grip, and came up to the shoulder very easily and naturally. It is fully ambidextrous: the fire selector is just below the trigger and can be operated with either hand, the folding cocking lever is well forward on the left side, just above the forward handgrip, so it is easy for left-handed shooter to operate with the right hand without changing his hold on the pistol grip. Case ejection is on the right side, well forward, above the barrel and the handgrip. The gun uses M16 magazines. Weight is 3.6 kg (with an empty magazine) barrel 400 mm and overall length 694 mm. In response to my question about larger calibres, their salesman said that FN is keeping in close touch with the work in the USA, but the specification of a new (6.8 mm) cartridge is not yet finalised. The F2000 is being evaluated in several countries, with Belgium (unsurprisingly) being considered the likely first customer. If I had to pick a 5.56mm rifle for myself on the basis of handling, this would be it, although I have reservations about the 40cm barrel - I would prefer 50cm. A photo from their brochure is HERE.


The Israeli Tavor and the Singaporean SAR-21 bullpups were present and correct, but handling trials were not being offered (well, I didn't look as if I was going to buy a few thousand…).


Three versions of the Tavor, from the IMI brochure: the 21-C weighs 2.9 kg and has barrel and overall lengths of 380 / 640 mm; the 21-M figures are 2.8 kg and 250 / 520 mm, and the 21-S; 3.4 kg, 460 / 720 mm. Comment: I don't understand this modern trend for making 5.56 mm bullpups with short barrels. Surely their main advantage is that you can combine a long barrel with a compact gun? The 5.56mm cartridge really needs to be fired from a 20 inch / 500 mm barrel to get decent medium-range performance from it. This is a pic of the 21-C at the show, with another showing it beside the Micro-Galil. The 5.56mm Micro-Galil weighs 3.1 kg, has a 212mm barrel and lengths (butt folded / extended) of 465 / 725 mm


Two versions of the SAR-21 were on display, with long and short barrels, the former also being shown with an underbarrel grenade launcher.


The Vektor 5.56mm bullpup is no longer offered. It was introduced at a time of oversupply of cheap rifles and achieved no sales.


One interesting weapon not present but included in IMI's brochure  is the MAGAL, which is an SMG in .30 Carbine calibre (7.62 x 33); weight is 3.26 kg and lengths 230 mm (barrel), 485 mm (butt folded) and 740 mm (butt extended).


I have also included a photo of FN's 5.7 x 28 couple, the P90 and the FiveSeven pistol, HERE.


Finally, I thought this might be of interest; it's a chart from the Nammo brochure showing the penetration of various small arms AP rounds.


Big Rifles and MGs


There were a number of exotic rifles in large calibres, include a range from the South African company Truvelo (are they the same folks who make those traffic speed cameras? If so, it would be nice to use one against the other...). Apart from 7.62 x 51 calibre, models are available in .300 Winchester Magnum, .338 Lapua and .50 BMG, all featuring the currently fashionable skeletal appearance. This is the .50 version from their brochure; it weighs 16 kg and is 1,510 mm long with a 1,000 mm barrel


Also from South Africa is the Mechem NTW in 20 x 82 (MG 151/20) or 14.5x114 (KPV) - just change the barrel. This is a pic from their brochure and this a close-up shot of the breech area. The 20 mm version weighs 26 kg and measures 1,795 mm with a 1,000 mm barrel, while the 1,220 mm  barrel necessary to get the best from the high-velocity 14.5 mm round puts the overall length up to 2,015 mm and the weight to 29 kg.


Vektor also had 5.56 mm and 7.62 mm MGs on show, here and here.  


Cannon Ammunition etc


Of the things which I would be legally allowed to own, top came some very nice sectioned ammunition, especially on the Rheinmetall/Oerlikon etc and Nammo stands. Oerlikon are making FAPIDS and APFSDS rounds in the Russian 30x165 as well as 30x173, and the 30x173 AHEAD is now known as the ABM (Air Burst Munition) and evidently intended for use against ground targets. FAPDS is now available in 23x152B as well as 25x137 and 27x145.


These are photos from the Oerlikon exhibition:

35 x 228 AHEAD

20, 23, 25 and 27 mm rounds

30x165 and 30x173 cartridges; and again here.


This is a shot from the Nammo brochure of their 30x173 ammo. They are (from left to right) the TPDS-T, APFSDS-T (230g at 1,430 m/s), TP-T and MP-T/SD (363g at 1,070 m/s).  At the show, they had sectioned examples of the APFSDS-T and the MP-T/SD..


Nico were showing a sectioned 40x46 LV grenade  - the DM12 HEDP round - which will penetrate 90mm. This is a brochure pic of a sectioned round.


Another brochure shot from Bofors shows a sectioned view of their 40x364R APFSDS loading. This has a muzzle velocity of a bit over 1,500 m/s, actually takes 1.0 secs to reach 1,500 m (at which distance it is doing 1,350 m/s) and still clocks 1,200 m/s at 3,000 m. Ouch! It will penetrate more than 150 mm armour at 1,000 m.


A pic of a sectioned Bofors 57 mm HE round (another one I'd like to add to my collection!).


There were displays of the specifications of the Cmi Defence Cockerill 90 mm Mk 3 (L/36, low pressure) and Mk 8 (L/48.5, high pressure) light AFV guns. This chart shows the Mk 3 ammo (with a close-up here of the specifications) while this table shows the performance of the Mk 8.


A brochure shot of a sectioned 120 mm DM53 APFSDS tungsten round. The projectile is 745 mm long and hits 1,670 m/s from an L/44 barrel and 1,750 m/s from the L/55. Dispersion is said to be less than 0.2 mil. This sectioned 120 mm APFSDS was at the show.


The 155mm SMArt EFP (explosively formed projectile) round had a nice display. The standard shell (shown here sectioned) takes two subprojectiles to 28 km, while the ERBBFB takes one to 40+km. The subprojectiles (shown here sectioned with its little parachute) are ejected at height and slowly descend, scanning for tank-like objects. When they find one, the charge detonates some distance above the target, forming the metal liner into a high-velocity projectile which will penetrate 100 mm armour. Quite enough to get through the roof of any tank. This photo is of a SADARM (Seek And Destroy ARMour) EFP test carried out in the 1980s - note the height of the detonation above the vehicle.


Grenade Launchers


The were several 40mm automatic grenade launchers at DSEi, including the HK GMG, the new lightweight American Mk 47 Striker, and the Vektor.


A couple of other interesting AGL developments from the Singaporean firm of CIS were present in brochure form. One is the SLWAGL - Super Light Weight - (shown here without mounting) tips the scales at only 14 kg and is just 1,000 mm long, yet fires HV 40 x 53SR ammo at 350 rpm. It appears to use a differential recoil system (i.e. it fires while the barrel group is moving forwards). The other is the Air Bursting Munitions System, which can be fitted to any 40 mm AGL. It consists of a fire control system, a muzzle-mounted fuze programmer and of course special ammunition. This picture shows an AGL loaded with all the kit, and with the round in the foreground


The 40 mm HK GMG (Grenade Machine Gun) API blowback was present in some quantity - there's a picture of one here. The gun weighs 29 kg (55 kg including cradle and tripod) and the ammo box filled with 32 rounds weighs 20 kg.


Two pictures of the new American 40 mm Striker GMG with laser rangefinder/ballistic computer are here and here.


Also two pictures of South Africa's Vektor Y3 40mm AGL here and here. This chunky thing weighs in at 32 kg (gun only) or 50 kg inc tripod and cradle plus another 10 kg for the ammo box and 20 rounds.


Not quite an AGL, but the OTO Hitrole remotely-controlled mounting for sticking on top of vehicles can take either a 40 mm AGL or a .50 BMG.


Automatic Cannon


There weren't many automatic cannon in evidence, the notable exception being a 27mm Mauser BK 27 lying on the floor next to a mockup Eurofighter, complete with the conveyor-like linkless feed and magazine. Some pics of the gun and feed mechanism are here, here and here. It seems that while the RAF's planes will carry the gun, no decision has been taken as yet to commission them.


The ugly bulk of an AH-64 Apache dominated one part of the exhibition, with its 30 mm M230 Chain Gun tucked underneath.


The Mauser RMK 30 wasn't present but Rheinmetall were giving out nice brochures. It is now being developed in 35 x 300 and 35 x 350 mm as well as the previous 30 x 230 and 30 x 280, with velocities of up to 1,480 m/s. This is getting seriously interesting, as a podded version hung off a light plane could potentially provide an anti-tank capability which would outclass the 30 mm GAU-8/A. This table gives details of the various RMKs while the chart shows how their muzzle energies compare with conventional weapons. Here's a nice pic of one on top of a Wiesel.


The 40mm CTA (Cased Telescopic Ammunition) gun was shown in a Warrior turret (expected in-service date 2006), and in an experimental unmanned turret (the subject of French interest). Their stand had some partially sectioned 40 mm cased telescopic APFSDS and HE ammo. The 450g tungsten APFSDS-T hits 1,600 m/s and will punch though more than 150mm armour plate at 1.5 km. The HE GPR-T weighs 1,000g and is fired at 1,000 m/s; it can be fitted with either a point-detonating or airburst fuze. The cylindrical cartridges measure around 65 x 285. They reported that the USA is no longer developing CTA except for 105mm calibre These pictures from the CTA brochure show the gun mechanism and comparative photos of the ammunition and the gun with conventional equipment.


No Oerlikon 35 mm KDG (Millennium), sadly, but a couple of brochure pics for consolation: this shows the naval Millennium in full cry (note the fired cases in mid-flight) while this is the proposed AFV turret. I haven't heard that they've sold any Millennia yet, which is a pity as it seems a nice piece of kit.


And on the Vektor stand I was told that the 20mm GA-1 is a very close copy of the MG 151/20, to ensure compatibility as some examples of the original World War 2 German Mausers are still in service in South Africa!


Breech-loading Mortars


Much touting of the British 120mm breech-loading turreted mortar, shown on a Piranha III (and here) and on a Warrior chassis (the latter really looked like an intriguing prospect to meet modern fire support demands). The mortar is manually loaded, smoothbore, range 10 km but planning for 12 km with extended-range ammo. In the Piranha there is a crew of four, and the vehicle takes 60 rounds. However, the video of the Finnish AMOS twin-barrel autoloading mortar blazing away was most impressive!


Naval Guns


The Mauser MLG 27 is a remotely-controlled naval mounting for the BK 27 revolver cannon, which the German Navy has selected to replace its existing 20 mm and 40 mm guns. They only had a model at DSEi.


A rather ancient French destroyer - D646 Latouche Treville - was moored outside. As well as the old 100 mm automatic gun, it carried a pair of 20 mm Oerlikons (here and here) - WW2-era Type S! You can't keep a good gun down….


The frigate HMS Grafton was present, and these are shots of her 30 mm Oerlikon KCB gun in the DS30B stabilised mounting (here and here). This one shows her 4.5 inch (114mm) Mk 8 gun.


The minesweeper HMS Bangor was also displaying her 30 mm gun.


Other Stuff


One rather curious weapon in FN's brochure is the 303 - no, not the reintroduction of the Lee Enfield but a non-lethal gun which uses a compressed air bottle to propel .68 inch calibre rubber bullets which may simply rely on impact or contain paint or pepper. The advantage claimed by comparison with other non-lethals is a negligible 'unsafe range' - anything over 1 metre is OK - coupled with a long optimum range of out to 50 m with an effective range of double that. Photos from their brochure include left and right side views, plus the ammunition. The gun weight is 2.3 kg with barrel and overall lengths of  250 and 740 mm. The muzzle velocity is 85-90 m/s and the projectile weight just over 9 grams. The gun holds 15 projectiles and the air bottle is good for 65 or 110 shots, to choice.


A couple of UAVs were present; the Ranger and the Firescout helo.