Home' Defence Technology Review : DTR DEC JAN 2015 Contents 17
DEFENCE TECHNOLOGY REVIEW | ISSUE 05 | DEC/JAN 2015
The US Army is pursuing the development of a new type
of small arms tracer round that, in addition to performing its
trace function during both day and night, will also be more
accurate and possess a reduced visual signature.
The desired outcome is a tracer round in 5.56mm and
7.62mm to replace the current M856A1 and M62A1 tracer
rounds respectively, and that is only visible from the shooter’s
perspective, concealing his/her position from the opposing
The intent is to have the new tracer technology
incorporated into the in-service M855A1 5.56mm and
M80A1 7.62mm ball rounds, and introduced with minimal
impact to currently fielded night vision goggles (NVG),
thermal weapon sights, optics and weapons.
The Armament Research, Development and Engineering
Center (ARDEC) is investigating a number of potential trace
technologies, although the stand out solution at time of
writing appears to be the One-Way Luminescence (OWL)
tracer round being developed jointly with the Program
Executive Office for Ammunition, the Joint Service Small
Arms Program Office, Army Corps of Engineers, Army
Research Laboratory, Naval Research Laboratory and Night
According to Picatinny Arsenal Public Affairs, OWL
achieves the primary objective of allowing the gunner to
see where the round is landing but prevent the enemy from
visually tracing the round back to the firing position, even with
the use of NVGs.
OWL involves applying a thin layer of luminescent
material to the base of the ball projectile. This, says ARDEC,
provides a glow-in-the-dark effect that is excited by
specific wavelengths of light.
Current tracer projectiles that have a cavity for insertion
of the pyrotechnic lose overall mass as the pyrotechnic
burns during the projectile’s flight. This means they do not
completely mimic the trajectory of the ball projectile, which
does not lose mass throughout its trajectory.
As OWL requires no such cavity in the base of the
projectile, all ball rounds with OWL applied to them should
maintain the same trajectory, thereby aiding accuracy.
A final OWL design is anticipated to be down selected
in fiscal year 2017, and transition to an Engineering and
Manufacturing Development program at that time.
Other potential solutions are also being evaluated, with
multiple contracts having been awarded to industry in fiscal
– Matthew Mendenhal
Platt develops large calibre rifle suppressors
Weapon mount and ordnance specialist W&E Platt
has developed new suppressors for .338 and .50 calibre
Additions to the company’s Signature Management
and Reduction Technology (SMART) family of small arms
suppressors, the SMART .338 and SMART .50 Cal
suppressors are a result of feedback received from US and
Australian forces and the company’s own knowledge base
about shooting large calibre precision rifles.
“We have taken on board what the operators say they want
to see in a large calibre rifle suppressor for these weapons
and combined that with our unique one-piece design and
fabrication process,” managing director Allan Platt told DTR.
For several years the Australian-based company has been
quietly refining its SMART suppressor line, a process that has
included extensive live fire range and field testing.
The SMART .338 and SMART .50 Cal suppressors are
each of one-piece construction with no welds or joints. The
SMART .338 is designed for quick-attach/detach with the
corresponding Platt Muzzle Compensator, while the SMART
. 50 Cal attaches directly to the barrel using a lock nut. Neither
suppressor requires tools for fitment or removal.
The SMART .50 Cal suppressor is somewhat unique in
having the majority of its volume below the centreline of the
barrel. This enables fitted scopes and sighting systems to be
mounted low over the receiver for improved shooter comfort
As well as lowering weapon noise signature, each
suppressor reduces felt recoil and muzzle flash, the latter a
key factor in maintaining the shooter’s tactical concealment.
– Ian Bostock
SolarShield helps AFVs beat the heat
Rheinmetall continues to seek out customers for its
SolarShield camouflage and heat reduction material.
SolarShield is a composite external covering that reduces
solar heat load, and near infrared and radar signatures as
Fielded by the Canadian Army on its Leopard C2 main
battle tanks for operations in Afghanistan, SolarShield is
suitable for fitment to armoured vehicles, transport vehicles,
containers, weapon systems, water tanks and shelters.
SolarShield is made of polyaramid, aluminium, fibreglass,
nylon and polyvinylchloride. The three-dimensional material
has an outer layer to absorb solar energy combined with an
open mesh textile that enables air convection underneath.
When applied to an armoured vehicle for instance,
SolarShield creates an artificial shadow that blocks most of
the incoming solar energy and reduces transmission to the
inside layer, whilst in turn facilitating convective air cooling to
evacuate heat generated by the vehicle.
Rheinmetall claims SolarShield can reduce internal
temperatures by more than 7 degrees Celsius.
Ball projectiles with OWL shown applied to their bases.
Images: US Army
The same projectiles with OWL activated in low light conditions.
US Army developing less revealing
Tracer rounds, which are usually loaded as every fifth round in
machine gun belts, provide essential feedback to soldiers firing
at a target by producing a visible line-of-sight that allows them to
track the trajectory of rounds fired and adjust aim accordingly.
However, the pyrotechnic streak which legacy tracer rounds emit
also gives away the gunner’s location by allowing the enemy to
follow the line of pyrotechnic burn back to the shooter.
190mm (without added flash
Length Added to Weapon
Peak Sound Pressure Level 138dB
SolarShield installed on a Caiman 6x6 armoured vehicle.
Image: CBG Systems
SMART .50 CAL
Stainless steel or super alloy
Length Added to Weapon
32dB from 29-inch barrel
Peak Sound Pressure Level
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