<div style="font-size: 13.3333px;">PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J.--Much like kickboxers entering the ring, Picatinny Arsenal’s engineers are advancing the future of military technology by predicting the opponent’s moves and quickly developing tactics to counter them. <span style="font-size: 13.3333px;">It’s an overall mission that has propelled all its engineers to be forward-thinking innovators with a strong footing in integrated armament systems with multi-role capabilities.  </span>

<div style="font-size: 13.3333px;"> “A multi-role munition is a projectile that can defeat different types of targets,” said Michael Barracato, an engineer from Picatinny’s Weapons and Software Engineering Center or WSEC. <span style="font-size: 13.3333px;">The center is part of the arsenal’s U.S. Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center, which reports to the U.S. Army Research Development and Engineering Command.  </span>

<div style="font-size: 13.3333px;">Potentially, a direct fire multi-role munition could apply to any medium-caliber weapon such as those on the Bradley Fighting Vehicle or Stryker. Medium-caliber weapons often use an armor-piercing round that can puncture armored vehicles, or a high-explosive round, which detonates when it hits a target. A multi-role munition could potentially do both.

<div style="font-size: 13.3333px;">Such a capability could also apply to large-caliber weapons, such as cannons, howitzers, mortars, rockets, and missiles, whose munitions are programmed before they are loaded into a weapon. <span style="font-size: 13.3333px;">However, the most recent development in the multi-role model at Picatinny has been with combat vehicles. Combat vehicles can counter threats ranging from other combat vehicles and helicopters to personnel.

<div style="font-size: 13.3333px;">But typically these vehicles need different types of rounds to defeat the threat, including high explosive anti-tank rounds, armor piercing rounds, and anti-personnel rounds. <span style="font-size: 13.3333px;">Integrating a multi-purpose munition into the vehicle’s inventory eliminates the need to carry different rounds or manually switch the rounds for a specific type of mission.

<div style="font-size: 13.3333px;">“I think the best example of a multi-role munition is probably what’s happening with the Abrams tank and the AMP,” said Adam Winters, a program management engineer in WSEC. “The Fire Control is the gunner’s interface with these multi-role munitions to rapidly employ these new capabilities.”

<div style="font-size: 13.3333px;">The 120mm Advanced Multi-Purpose round, or AMP, is a single tank round that has different fuze capabilities. The round is integrated into the Abrams Fire Control. <span style="font-size: 13.3333px;">Once fielded, it can serve multiple purposes, such as attacking bunkers, to defeating armored threats and dismounted infantry, overcoming obstacles, breaching reinforced walls, and engaging anti-tank guided missile teams at extended ranges. </span>

<div style="font-size: 13.3333px;">By folding all these capabilities into a single round, the AMP offers two new capabilities as well as replaces and combines the capabilities of four inventory tank munitions. The result saves critical time and logistics for Soldiers, who currently have to decide which rounds to carry in the turret and load into the gun before engaging an enemy on the battlefield. 

<div style="font-size: 13.3333px;">The AMP is managed by Project Manager, Maneuver Ammunition Systems, which is part of the Program Executive Office for Ammunition, also at Picatinny Arsenal.

<div style="font-size: 13.3333px;">DEVELOPING A MULTI-ROLE ARMAMENT SYSTEM

<div style="font-size: 13.3333px;">However, by integrating that same concept of a multi-purpose munition into a multi-role armament system, Soldiers could hypothetically get more lethality, said Richard Fong, a senior research scientist at ARDEC. 

<div style="font-size: 13.3333px;">Picatinny’s multi-role armament system is a munition launcher with a modular design. This means that rather than using the current conventional design—one launcher for one type of munition—the system is constructed with several components, or different launch tubes of various diameters, that are designed to provide multi-role capabilities. 

<div style="font-size: 13.3333px;">The modular design allows the warfighter to use one system to address multiple missions, both lethal and non-lethal. Its customization entirely depends on what the warfighter decides after mission assessment.  

<div style="font-size: 13.3333px;">“Eventually, if the threat is an RPG [rocket propelled grenade], Soldiers will be able to use an active protective system, or APS, which has a sensor that can detect that an RPG has been fired at their vehicle, and then launches something to blow it [the RPG] up before it can hit the vehicle,” said Fong. “Or, if a missile or a rocket is headed toward one of our vehicles, our Soldiers can launch a smoke grenade to spoof the guided missile and camouflage our vehicle.

<div style="font-size: 13.3333px;">“But, to ‘pop smoke’ or ‘defeat an RPG,’ you need different systems,” explained Fong. “So, the concept of the multi-role armament system is to contain everything into one. It can intercept the missile and then immediately fire a grenade or a munition to kill the shooter. In other words, it has the ability to be offensive and defensive. It has the ability to launch multiple munitions, a whole family of munitions, and have multiple effects both in lethality and survivability.”

<div style="font-size: 13.3333px;">Fong’s idea to create a multi-role armament system was inspired by the Army’s recent interest in lightweight tank armor. The Army’s tanks are currently made of metal to protect the vehicle, but it also makes tanks heavier and impedes on the team’s mobility. 

<div style="font-size: 13.3333px;">The multi-role armament system eliminates that big inventory of rounds and reduces the warfighter’s load, providing more lethality, variety, and valuable time on the battlefield. However, its effectiveness also relies on its connection to the weapon’s fire-control system. 

<div style="font-size: 13.3333px;">“Fire control is the hardware, software, and sensors that can accurately point these different munitions,” Fong said. “Each munition is different, depending on what you’re shooting, so the system needs to be able to accommodate all of that. To me, that fire control is the brains behind it. When you couple that with the hardware, that’s when you really get the revolutionary benefits.” 

<div style="font-size: 13.3333px;">UPGRADING FIRE CONTROL

<div style="font-size: 13.3333px;">Recently, Picatinny engineers revamped the traditional fire-control system and included a more accurate laser range finder, 360-degree wind and atmospheric data and a new computer system, providing better weapon accuracy and decreasing the gunner’s workload. This new suite of hardware and software allows the warfighter to easily program and control the munitions, such as which munition to use, how it flies, when it detonates, and how it detonates. 

<div style="font-size: 13.3333px;">A new Picatinny program that relies on this fire-control system is the Advanced Lethality and Accuracy System for Medium Caliber, or ALAS-MC. The ALAS-MC is an Army science and technology project.

<div style="font-size: 13.3333px;">The system uses a Scenario-Based Fire Control system to determine how to engage the enemy with programmable air-burst munitions—rounds that burst open and disperse fragments at a pre-programmed distance—in a medium caliber weapon system like the XM813. The XM813 could be used on fighting vehicles such as the Stryker and provide counter unmanned aerial system capabilities that don’t exist today.

<div style="font-size: 13.3333px;">“With these direct fire medium caliber weapons, I can use the fire control system to program a round in seconds, or less than seconds, to engage multiple target types,” explained Barracato.<span style="font-size: 13.3333px;">“I can decide with the flip of a switch, or the push of a button, a different role for that weapon,” he added.

<div style="font-size: 13.3333px;">“I can shoot it and then have it explode at a distance. I can hit the building and create a hole in that building. Or, I can shoot it at the building, have it go through the wall, and then have it detonate in the building.” 

As a result, the ALAS-MC and its fire-control system increases the warfighter’s lethality. Picatinny Arsenal’s push to anticipate future needs has given impetus to other projects such as small, munition-launched sensors.