|Product type:||Weapons & Weapon Systems|
Giat Industries is the prime contractor for the automatic loading system which is installed in the Giat Industries Leclerc MBT, currently in production and service with France and the United Arab Emirates.
This bustle-mounted automatic loader was originally designed and built by Creusot-Loire but is now manufactured by Giat Industries.
The Giat Industries automatic loader is installed in the turret bustle of the Leclerc MBT and is separated from the two-man (commander and gunner) crew compartment by a tight armoured wall. Ammunition with semi-combustible cartridge cases is fed to the Giat 120 mm F1 smoothbore gun when required and a door opens in the armoured wall to allow the ammunition to pass through. In the event of a round hitting the turret bustle, the main force of the explosion will be vented upwards rather than into the crew compartment.
The Leclerc automatic loader consists of two main components: a conveyor in which are stored the 120 mm rounds of ammunition with their noses facing the front of the tank; and a telescopic rammer to transfer the ammunition from the loader to the open breech of the 120 mm smoothbore gun.
The loader can accommodate any type of NATO 120 mm ammunition, including Armour-Piercing Fin-Stabilised Discarding Sabot (APFSDS) and High Explosive Anti-Tank (HEAT) multipurpose. The conveyor can be loaded manually from the inside or outside of the Leclerc and, in addition to the 22 rounds of ready use ammunition, a further 18 rounds are carried inside the tank and loaded into the automatic loader when or as required.
The automatic loader is operated by an electronic system connected to the databus.
The conveyor system includes an endless chain consisting of a combination of two opened and articulated cells which slide on tracks through the panels, motorised transmission system for automatic selection and transmission mechanisms for manual selection.
The telescopic rammer includes a sliding block and fingerto push the ammunition to the open breech of the 120 mm F1 smoothbore gun, a motorised transmission mechanism for automatic loading and a transmission mechanism for manual loading.
The loading door unit is fitted on the armoured wall and consists of an electrically operated loading door supplying the conveyor, and a transmission mechanism for manual loading.
An ammunition supply system is fitted on the loader. It is manually operated from inside the turret and from outside the turret through an aperture in the turret rear. The ammunition stored is recognised automatically by two bar code sensors fitted on the conveyor.
Electronic components include a 16 bit microcomputer which controls the whole loading sequence, an electric power box which supplies the motors, connection box, electrical supply converter box and a small electrical box which is used when an external power supply is required.
The main functions of the control mechanism are to supply the conveyor with testing memorisation, load the 120 mm F1 gun with the correct ammunition, exchange information with the turret computer, control the conveyor chain bidirectional movement, control all movements of the rammer, open and close the loading door, select automatic or manual modes and monitor automatic test sensors and actuators.
The loading sequence is as follows: selection of the correct ammunition, opening and closing of the loading door, ramming of the round in the open breech, rammer withdrawn and breech closed before the gun is fired. Once the gun has been fired, it automatically returns to -1.8° for loading again.
The 120 mm gun can be loaded when the Leclerc tank is on a slope or gradient from -15 to +15°.
A reversionary mode of operation is provided to deal with the failure of a sensor or actuator, while maintaining full automation of the remaining functions.
For MBTs other than the Giat Industries Leclerc, the automatic loader can be modified by adding or deleting conveyor cells in order to adapt the automatic loader size to the room available in the turret bustle. In mid-1999 there were no other known developments or production applications of this automatic loading system, or variants of this system.
Production. In service on the Giat Industries Leclerc MBT used by France and the United Arab Emirates.