Fif

cartridge (Oerlikon-Contraves production):

FAPDS 26mm (at l,000m/60°) APDS 31mm and APFSDS 37mm.

A unique light cannon variant currently applied to Russian aircraft ammunition for ground-attack purposes is the CC, or cargo-carrying, projectile. This contains sub-projectiles which are discharged from the body of the projectile at a set distance after firing in order to saturate the target area. It is designed to cause significant damage to such targets as aircraft parked in the open, but would also be highly dangerous to any personnel in the area. The version for the 23 X 115 cartridge carries 24 X 2g sub-projectiles, that for the 30mm guns 28 X 3.5g. The 30 X 165 loading discharges at between 1,100m and 1,800m after firing, the sub-projectiles forming a cone with an angle of 8°. Total projectile weights and muzzle velocities are similar to that of standard ammunition.

A more sophisticated approach is represented by the Oerlikon AHEAD (advanced hit efficiency and destruction) anti-aircraft/anti-missile ammunition initially offered in 35 X 228 calibre. The shell is timed to detonate 25m before it reaches the target, creating a 5m wide pattern of 152 3.3g tungsten sub-projectiles travelling at extremely high velocity due to a combination of the carrier projectile velocity and the force with which the sub-projectiles are ejected. In principle, this is similar to the nineteenth-century shrapnel shell, except that the latter was intended for use against troops and the timing method was considerably less sophisticated.

A rival to AHEAD is the Bofors PFHE (pre-fragmented high-explosive) shell available in 40mm and 57mm calibres as a component of the 3P system (prefragmented, programmable, proximity fuzed). This differs in being an HE shell lined (in 40mm calibre) with 650 tungsten pellets, with detonation normally triggered by a proximity fuze. The effective radius of the exploding 40mm shell is up to 7m against aircraft and 3m against sea-skimming anti-ship missiles.

Rocket-assisted projectiles (RAPs) are used in artillery ammunition to extend the range but as the space required for the rocket reduces the HE capacity by about 50% they are not used in smaller-calibre weapons. However, an AP RAP (with the propellant wrapped around the penetrator) was experimentally developed for the 30mm GAU-8/A aircraft gun in the 1970s and demonstrated the same penetration at 1,800m as the standard APCR could achieve at 1,200m.

Not all projectiles are designed for offence; some shells have contents designed to defend aircraft against missile attack. Some post-war Soviet aircraft cannon are available with chaff-dispensing anti-radar ammunition (PRL-23 in 23mm) and even IR (infra-red) decoy projectiles (IK-23). The 23 X 115 version of the IR decoy round ignites about one second after firing and burns for some four seconds. The 30 X 155B chaff dispenser projectile produces a cloud of radar-obscuring particles which grows from an initial 7-9m2 to a maximum of 14-18m2 in area.

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