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News

Gunning for success

Castings Technology International : 22 June, 2004  (New Product)
BAE Systems is an international company engaged in the development, delivery and support of advanced defence and aerospace systems in the air, on land, at sea and in space. An example of its pioneering technology is the world's first ultra-lightweight 155mm Howitzer, which offers unique deployment and firepower capability to modern artillery forces. Deployment is achieved by air transport or by light field vehicles.
BAE Systems is an international company engaged in the development, delivery and support of advanced defence and aerospace systems in the air, on land, at sea and in space. An example of its pioneering technology is the world's first ultra-lightweight 155mm Howitzer, which offers unique deployment and firepower capability to modern artillery forces. Deployment is achieved by air transport or by light field vehicles.

Mobility of the lightweight Howitzer is a key feature, achieved using a unique two-piece carriage design, incorporating the Body and the Saddle. When on the ground, the weapon is often towed across harsh terrain, making severe demands on the structure. Therefore, the Howitzer is fitted with the lightweight, high performance Hydrostrut Suspension unit developed by Horstman Defence Systems of Bath, to withstand the high performance requirements. Horstman supply the entire suspension and running gear for the Howitzer, including the suspension road arm, road wheel, hub and brakes.

Hydrostrut is a telescopic hydropneumatic suspension system built around a lightweight steel box-section casting developed with support from Cti. The product optimisation process started with Finite Element Analysis, as the component has stringent requirements for maximising strength whilst meeting exacting weight limitations. FEA enabled the design optimisation to meet these conflicting parameters.

In support of the Design Optimisation Process, Cti's foundry specialists selected the most appropriate alloy to meet the exacting performance requirements of the casting. The alloy selected was a high strength Ni-Cr-Mo steel, not previously used in this type of application. This family of alloys have strength enough to withstand unpredictable weather, heavy loads, and extended periods of use, with retained toughness even at low temperatures. Additionally the alloy is recognised as being weldable over a wide range of temperatures without pre-heating so that repairs and modifications can be made quickly and safely in the field.

Following extensive development and trials, culminating in a competitive shoot-off, the Howitzer was selected by the United States Army and Marine Corps as their weapon of choice. BAE Systems has been awarded a multi-million dollar contract by the US DoD for the initial 94 USMC M777 Gun Systems. Due to anticipated high demand for the Gun System, Cti are actively working with member foundries, increasing their 'know-how' in the manufacture of thin-walled castings in high strength alloys.
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