Lord Patel apologises for the state of the world today, gun crime on the streets of Liverpool, piss poor GCSE results, and for mis-informing readers (see here) about the state of weaponry on board the squillion pound , 22 years in development Eurofighter Typhoon.
We understood that Geoff Hoon when Minister of Defence (but not then a war criminal) in May 2000 removed the weapon to save money - he did..... but things moved on....
Hoon the Fearless'MoD announced that Tranche-2 and 3 Eurofighter's in RAF service would not be fitted with any cannon whatsoever, while Tranche-1 cannons would not be utilised. The recommendation for this was made by the Equipment Capability Organisation (ECO) which was tasked with finding the most appropriate mix of weaponry for combat systems. The official Government line was that the capability offered by ASRAAM equipped Eurofighter's leads to the cannon becoming operationaly and economically unviable. However, the British MoD has so far spent £90M on the BK-27 while annual savings from not using it are put at a mere £2.5M (the costs of removing it are put at £32M). This cast doubt on the economic merits of cancelling the weapon.
The Typhoon is equipped with a single MauserWerke GmbH developed BK-27 mm cannon mounted internally in the fuselage forward of the starboard wing it is also fitted to Tornado, Alpha-jet blister pods and SAAB/BAe Gripen. It has a maximum firing rate of some 1700 rounds a minute of 27mm HE shells and each aircraft will carry 150 rounds - that's a little over a single 5 second burst (!). Several different types of shell are available.
Weighing only 100Kg (220Lbs,) this provides significant firing velocity of a large shell - it compares badly howwver with for example the U.S. M-61 with a rate of fire of 6000 shells per minute but provides instant firing .The Mauser will have fired over 4kg of projectiles in 0.5 seconds while the M-61 scores around 2kg. The M-61 will only exceed the BK-27 after a full second of firing, by which time the target may well have moved.
The compact system has proved to be robust in service (even if not used) Mean Rounds Between Failure (MRBF) of over 23,000, the MRBF for the unit plus ammunition is over 14,000. In addition the manufacturer also claims the gun, with a projectile weight of 260g and a fuse function to 85° impact angle out performs all other lightweight fighter cannon systems. The particular installation on the Eurofighter features a new linkless closed ammunition feed system with case recovery. This is a first with a revolver gun and provides a 60% reduction in the volume of installed ammunition.
As with the external weapon loads, targeting of the cannon is done through the HUD. When the cannon is selected a firing predictor is projected onto the Head Up display. This depicts a moving line, or snake which predicts where the next few rounds of cannon fire will go. The system also incorporates auto-fire, whereby a burst of fire can be automatically engaged when the target passes through the sight.
Quite whythis compact but lethal equipment providing all of 5 seconds burst of lethal shells is installed is difficult to understand judging by the answer of Sir Jock Stirrup KCB AFC ADC (see pic Biog) to a question from Mr Viggers MP (Con. Gosport) Vice Chairman of the Select Committee on Defence Minutes of Evidence Wednesday 20th October 2004
Q101 Mr Viggers: And the latest on the gun saga, the cannon which was phased out and replaced by a lump of concrete and now we are getting the gun back again, what is the latest position?
Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup: I think the position with the Typhoon gun is an excellent example of where we want to be across the board with our equipment capability. We cannot foresee with any accuracy the nature and/or scale of all the threats and challenges we might have to face in the future, so for us adaptability and agility, the ability to react to an unforeseen future is crucial. We cannot do that by investing in everything we can think of because we certainly will not need all of those things and anyway we could not afford them. Our thinking up to now on the Typhoon gun has been that we will not require it because of the advances in short-range missiles and various other tactics and techniques and procedures, but we could get to a situation which we have not foreseen where we will require it. Well, we have a gun in Typhoon and we are not planning to fire it because it would cost us quite a bit more money in terms of ground support equipment, fatigue on the air-frame and so on, but if we decided that actually we did need it for something, we could bring it into operation in very short order, so we have complete flexibility as far as the Typhoon gun is concerned.
See an interesting post re the use of such amarment, "RAF Who needs guns?" and the possible future deployment of Typhoon in Afghanistan (???) at the new to us, and fascinating blog "War is Boring"
Apologies again, we regret that the military mode of thinking is way, way, way beyond us....Well, we have a gun in Typhoon and we are not planning to fire it ....WTF?
More Wit and Wisdom from Sir Jock (now God Forbid from May 2006, the Chief of Defence Staff) at Chatham House 25th June 2007 also see what he told BBC World at One July 27th 2007 ... "the British military has "succeeded" in its mission objectives in southern Iraq. " Sir Jock also said while the operation in Afghanistan was "entirely winnable" it was "entirely loseable" too. ... and if you have guns and don't fire them the latter is the most likely result....unless you know different.