Traveller Store CotI Features New Posts Mark Forums Read Register


Go Back TravellerRPG.com > Citizens of the Imperium > General Traveller Discussions > Ship's Locker

Ship's Locker Submit your favorite original equipment and weapons for others to use in their own Traveller campaigns.

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old February 18th, 2004, 06:49 PM
Todg Todg is offline
Citizen: SOC-13
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: Helena, Montana
Posts: 632
Gallery : 0
Todg Citizen
Post

As requested, I am starting a thread discussion current and near term small arms technologies that can be applied to Traveller and invite others to chime in. Traveller, particularly CT is a product of it's time (late 70s and early 80s) and reflects that. Further, a lot of weapons technology and military research is and was not available to the masses and so military tech, particularly weapons, tends to be either extrapolations of current tech or derived from fiction (which may or may not be based on sound physics or military requirements).

At the risk of repeating myself, I'm going to start by establishing what (in particular) the rifle should be, based on several key pieces of research that are at the center of current military thought, and then apply them to emerging technologies. Obviously, the material in question, based on experiences of the US military, may not apply to the Imperium, however, I think most of the assumptions will prove applicable.

I will be posting in parts to make it easier to comment and so that we can get the thread moving, since there seems to be lots of interest. Obviously, one can extrapolate current technology only so far, so most of what is discussed here is likely only to apply to mid tech worlds.

I will also be addressing Traveller weapons in particular, and see how they fit in. Since I am a CT referee, I will be discussion arms from Book 1 and Book 4, but any milieu is certainly grist for the mill.

More to follow.
__________________
Tod Glenn
mailto:webmaster@travellercentral.com
http://www.travellercentral.com
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old February 18th, 2004, 08:19 PM
Todg Todg is offline
Citizen: SOC-13
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: Helena, Montana
Posts: 632
Gallery : 0
Todg Citizen
Post

Part 1: What must the rifle do.

In discussion future weapons, it is helpful to framne the discussion in terms of expectations. In the past, infantry weapons have evolved in a fairly hodge-podge manner. Weapojns have been introduced, and then the tactics have evolved around them. This is, to some extent now changing. Thanks to battlefield after action analysis, we are starting to develope weapons based on operational requirements.

In the case of small arms, the first detailed studies of what the rifle must do were published in the 1950. One of the most important of these was "Operational requirements for an infantry hand weapon" pubished by the Johns Hopkins University Operations Research Organization (or ORO, a think tank funded by the army) and whitten by Norman Hitchman. The reports was actually the consequence of an earlier study called ALCLAD.

ALCLAD was concerned with developing a new generation of body armor for soldiers. During the initial research,m it was found that no detailed study of how wounds are received has been undertaken. The casualties records from WWII and korea were analyzed, and the primary researcher, the previously mentioned Hitchman, discovered some facts that were to shake some very dearly held notions about infantry combat and the rifle to their very core. This material would later become the centerpiece for the ORO publications.

Boiled down, the Hitchman report revealed the following:

1. Almost all infantry rifle fire (incluing machineguns) takes place at 500 yards or less. The principle reasons being interveneing terrain, the inability to see targets (due to cover and concealment) and the perceived inability to effectively engage them at extened range.

Further, 90% of all infantry combat occurs at less than 300 yards, and 70% at less than 100 yards. It was determined that then then issue cartridge with its 1000 meter+ effective range was needlessly powerful for normal infantry operations. ( Interestingly, the German had drawn the same conclusions after WWI, and this led to their late adoption of the 7.92x33mm round used in the StG44).

2. The chief factors in achieving a hit were time and degree of exposure of the target. So called 'aimed' fire show no increase in hit probability over unaimed fire. Highest hit pro=babilities were obtained by saturating the target area with overwhelming fire.

3. Weapons are needlessly accurate. The limiting factor of weapon accuracy was the shooter. Indeed, a degree of nutation may be desireable to cmpensate for aiming errors.

Based upon his research, Hitchman suggested that a weapon firng either a swarm of submunition (like a shotgun) or one that fire multiple round sequentially at a high rate of fire would improve hit probability and compensate for shooter induced aiming errors.

Abou the same time, Donald Hall, at the Armies Ballistics Reaseach Laboratory (BRL) published "An effectiveness study of the infantry rifle". Hall had been preeminent in the Army's Small Caliber High Velocity (SCHV) project. Hall determined that small caliber projectile could be as effective as the standard issue round if the velocity were kept high enough. Such a round would have reduced recoil and would weighless, allowing a soldier to carry more ammunition. The downside would be that such rounds would have diminished long range terminal effect, but since Hitchman had already shown that this was not an issue, this fact was not important. Further, the reduction in recoil meant that the high ROF serial rifle proposed by Hitchman would be controllable under autofire - certainly a desireable objective.

Project SALVO (and later SALVO II) investigated the potential of multiple projectiles - both from swarm weapons (shotguns) and multiple bulleted projectiles. These showed that Hitchman's theory was fundementally sound. Both weapon produced higher hit rates, but other factors worked against them. Shotguns had poor terminal performance at anything more than short range, and multiple bulleted projectiles were complex and difficult to manufacture.Howver, the discoveries that Hall and Hitchman made were to lead directly to the first program to build a rifle based on operational requirements, the Special Purpose Individual Weapon (SPIW).

The SPIW abandoned the swarm of submunitions in favor of serially lauched projectiles fired at a high ROF. At the same time, a new projectile was introduced that seemed ideal for the SPIW - The flechette.

The modern usage of the flechette in smallarms is generally credited to Dr. Irwin R. Barr.

The advantage of the flechette for the SPIW was that due to its relatively low weight, even when driven at extremely high velocity meant a very low recoil. Since the SPIW was envisioned to fire a 3-5 round burst at something like 2000 rounds per minute, low recoil was key to keepin dispersion of the projectiles beneath the required threshold. Further, it was believed that, due to the tendency of the flechette to bend or hook in tissue, it would be at least as lethal, if not more so, than the round it would be replacing. The flechette would have superior armor-piercing caharacteristics. And due to the extremely high velocity, there would be no need to compensate for 'bullet' drop over the perational range of the weapon.

Unfortunately, the SPIW suffered from several factors - principly, the Army ignoring it's own studies. The Army added an area fire requirement, and the SPIW was unable to achieve the requirements for single round accuracy (even though the Hitchman report showed this was not a factor). Finally, the weapon was probably too far ahead of its time. And during the development of the SPIW, the M-16 (originally meant as only an interim solution) had gained a foothold. The SPIW projecy quietly died, but many of it developments were to live on in the next small arms project, The Advanced Combat Rifle (ACR).

The ACR program was not intended to to necessarily find a successor for the now standard M-16. Instead, it was meant to explore new technologies with a goal to improving hit probabilities by at least 100 percent. (This may seem like a lot, but the reality is that in combat, even among 'expert' riflemen, hit probabilities were extremely low - approaching 0 at 300 meters. Vendors were invited to submit weapons for evaliuation in highly realistic series of tests, including a new rangewhich tried to duplicate combat shooting at a level never before attempted. It used pop-up and moving targets, and the shooters were exposed to various distractions to try and simulate actual combat.

Several of the submitted weapons bopsted features lifted straight from either Hitchman's recommendations, SALVO or the SPIW progam. The HK G11 used caseless ammuniton and fired bursts at a high cyclic rate, The AAI and Steyr entries fired flechettesand the Colt entry (a low cost option) ustilized a modified M-16 fioring multi-bulleted (duplex) ammunition. All featured ergonomic enhancements and some kind of optical sight.

While all of the weapons showed improvements over the current issue weapon, none managed the required 100% improvement. Part of the problem is that the rifle itself has basically reached it's zenith of development.

Some things were noted, particularly the effectiveness of optical sighting systems. The US military had resisted optical sights as being too fragile and of little untility to the common soldier, however the ACR trials showed that there were suitably durable optical sights for military applications, and that optical sights were superior for snap shooting - exactly the kind of shooting soldiers did most of the time under combat conditions. It is interesting to note how prevalent optical sights have become on US military rifles, even though there is no official issue optical sighting system.

Post ACR.

The most recent development in smallarms has been the OICW. While complex and controversial (primarily for it's complexity and cost), OICW is a direct answer to Hitchman. In the past, the solution to the ineffectiveness of 'aimed' fire has been to create a swarm of missiles that compemsate for aiming errors. OICW takes this one step further by using a smart HE projectile. With the OICW close only counts in horseshoes and 20mm smart projectiles. If th soldier can only get within 15 meters of the target, he can still get a hit. Further, he can get a hit indies a building, around a corner or even down in a foxhole.

This is really a fundementally different ball game. Until OICW, the infantry rifle has basically only been a slow evolutionary progression from first handgonne to modern rifle. Smart projectiles look to be the next great step - similar to the change from bow to gun. Smart guns are another possibility. The limiting factor in the man-gun equation is now the man. Emerging technologies may allow the gun to compensate for the errors induced by the operator.

Lastly, even though it is merely evolutionary, new materials and manufacturing techniques have had (and will continue to have) and impact on fireamrs in general, and this will certainly impact military small arms. Polymers, composits, ceramics and other materials will make future weapons tougher, more durable, more reliable and cheaper to produce. Systems like caseless ammo, ETC, CAP and railguns will make the weapons more leathal and allow for lighter ammunition, and hence larger combat loads.

In the next entry, I will discuss various classic Traveller weapons and how they fit into the ideal as well as proposed changes.
__________________
Tod Glenn
mailto:webmaster@travellercentral.com
http://www.travellercentral.com
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old February 19th, 2004, 12:04 AM
kaladorn kaladorn is offline
Citizen: SOC-14
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: Ottawa (Ontario Subsector/Canada Sector)
Posts: 2,293
Gallery : 0
kaladorn Citizen
Post

An interesting point to discuss:

If the man is the limiting factor, how do we change that?

In a world where one can jump through hyperspace, manipulate gravity, etc, then one presumes that adapting the soldier via geneering, cybernetic augmentation, chemical control (to keep the soldier at peak levels of focus while controlling stress levels for optimal performance), computerized expert AI augmentation (in the personal wearable computer system, or in the soldier himself), etc. all offer ways to change that bottom line limitation that we call the current human condition.

These may be as important as changes to the firearm itself.
__________________
"Tell them, that from this place we will deliver notice to the parliaments of conquerors that a line has been drawn against the darkness. And we will hold that line, .. no matter the cost." -- Cpt. Sheridan "The Long, Twilight Struggle"
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old February 19th, 2004, 03:25 AM
Todg Todg is offline
Citizen: SOC-13
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: Helena, Montana
Posts: 632
Gallery : 0
Todg Citizen
Post

Quote:
Originally posted by kaladorn:
In a world where one can jump through hyperspace, manipulate gravity, etc, then one presumes that adapting the soldier via geneering, cybernetic augmentation, chemical control (to keep the soldier at peak levels of focus while controlling stress levels for optimal performance), computerized expert AI augmentation (in the personal wearable computer system, or in the soldier himself), etc. all offer ways to change that bottom line limitation that we call the current human condition.
Nothing so drastic is required (although one shouldn't discount any of the above ideas).

A simple solution is the 'smart gun'. When traveller was originally written, no one anticipated that not only would the computer become ubiquitopus, but that we would be putting computers into everything from cars to TVs, dishwashers to toasters.

It is a short stretch to imagine integrating a high level of 'intelligence' into something as mundane as a small arm. We already do the same with larger pieces of military weaponry. A fighter poilot doesn't need to exactly aim his missiles at a targets. He gets the target into a particular area of the aiming retiucle and automatic system do the rest.

In the case of an infantry weapon, aiming errors are typically on the order of less than one degree. Imaging a weapon which rather than being 'gyroscopically stabilized' - a canon features but a relatively useless one - that the firing mechanism can be steered within the outer housing so that a soldier aims at a particular target, the rifle makes the appropriate corrections to insure a hit. The shooter just has to point and be relatively close, and the gun does all the rest, with a precision and speed that no human can match.

Obviously, there will be times when such a system may not be ideal - hostage situations, for example. But these would be rare occurances for the basic soldier type. A soldier could even point his rifle at a particular location, with 'orders' to fire at targets of opportunity.

Naturally, the added complexity could have it's downside. "Hang n, I'm waiting for my rifle to reboot." But presumably, the technology of the Imperium is mature enough to make this an extremely rare occurance.

Another simple solution, one that we are working on now as part of the LandWarrior system, it to remove the threat to the weapon operator, allowing him the leisure of longer aiming. For example, by making the sighting system remote (as by putting a video camera on the weapon) the shooter can remain behind cover and expose only his weapon. This still doesn't eliminate aiming errors so it is only a partial solution.

Finally, we have 'smart' ammunition. It doesn't take much imagination to couple miniturization (even to the extent of nanotech) to produce things like homing projectiles. Consider that a human can'r move all that fast. If a projectiles were capable of a mere couple of degrees of change of arc, that would be enough to turn almost every shot fired into a hit. This technology is probably more advanced than the 'smart' gun, but seems doable by the TL that gauss weapons appear. Why have a stupid gun, when you can have a smart one?

The advantages of the smart gun become even more apparent when you consider that once the gun is self aiming, there's no reason that you even have to maintain a traditional form factor. No need for a stock or pistol grip if servos are aiming your weapon. Why not mount it on your pack so it can pop up from cover without exposing the user. The aiming system delivers a video signal to you, yu look at the target you want and the computer aims the gun (correcting for aiming errors). Once you have the target selected, press the firing stud, and the gun does the rest.

That is the smart gun at a basic level. By the time that battle dress appears, the wearer probably doesn't worry much about operating his weapons. He selcts strategies and targets, and the suit's built in expert system selects the appropriate weapons and fires them at the indicated targets. The BD trooper doesn't fire a weapon - he wears it - is the weapon.

Just some thoughts. Now to translate them into Traveller statistics.
__________________
Tod Glenn
mailto:webmaster@travellercentral.com
http://www.travellercentral.com
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old February 19th, 2004, 03:33 AM
Straybow's Avatar
Straybow Straybow is offline
Citizen: SOC-14
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: not too hot, not too cold
Posts: 1,860
Gallery : 0
Straybow Citizen
Post

I recall playing that Spy RPG (Top Secret??) and thinking, "This can't be right. If flechettes were that good the army would be using them."
Ah, youthful naivete&#133
__________________
(\__/). Save a bunny, eat more Smurf! (Brought to you by the National Smurfmeat Council)
(='.'=) Smurf, the original blue meat! 1999, and (except that "Smurf" bit)
(")_(") tc+ ru- c+ au+ ls- pi he++ eti=0 hs++ pc++ !zuchai(=dilithium)
Han shot first, and per parsec pricing is RAW!
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old February 19th, 2004, 09:49 AM
TJP TJP is offline
Citizen: SOC-12
 
Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: Finland
Posts: 215
Gallery : 0
TJP Citizen
Post

I'll hazard a guess as to why there are no fletchettes in standard military rifles yet - they're more expensive and harder to make than bullets, i.e. it's still more cost-effective to use bullets than fletchettes in small arms. When you're making [i]millions{/i] of them, the cost and ease of manufacture are no small matters.
__________________
IMTU tc+ tm+ tn t4- ?t20- tg tt+ ge++ ru+ he+
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old February 19th, 2004, 09:49 AM
jfwking's Avatar
jfwking jfwking is offline
Citizen: SOC-12
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: UK
Posts: 153
Gallery : 0
jfwking Citizen
Post

Firstly the drive towards smaller lighter ammo and faster rates of fire reduces both wound lethality and armour penetration. Without a significant improvement in chemical reaction projectiles you need to look at MLA/guass and energy weapons. Having a lighter more accurate M16 is no use if your bullets bounce off the Plastic/ceramic/alloy armour suit of the guy you are shooting at. The attack/defence swing of modern armoured vehicles comes into play once your infantry join the battlefield armoured forces.

Next accuracy, most soldiers can shoot target groups on a range at combat distances, the reason so many shots are fired in battle to achieve a hit is due to the vast difference between a range shoot and the intensity of a life/death firefight where your target is evading. Psycho/chemical conditioning of troops to keep them calm and controled in battle. When your troops are firing single shots and hitting better than 50% of the time you change the design of weapons to reflect this.

Lightspeed weapons (lasers) are 100% accurate. They hit exactly what you are aiming at when you fire, again the only chance of missing is due to the trooper pushing the firing stud at the wrong instant.

Hi energy weapons add another factor, when you can fire through buildings what use is cover.

Sensors/stealth also becomes a factor when you push up the tech a bit. At our tech level tanks are drifting towards the stealthy not strong idea to go with the small wars and limited force engagements theme and as the future warrior/land warrior/ehpa project etc become more reliable you have a situation where individual soldiers are part of a comand datanet which if accurate enough will allow secondary targeting. Being shot by an enemy in the next room who cannot see you but who's squad mate 500m away can is likely to be painfull.

So to look at improvements in the modern small arms we need to consider the following points.

1. Usage, where and when and by who.
2. Probable target.

For use against non armoured targets the M16 is a fine weapon, you can improve the firers but the weapon does the job. Moving the mechanics into a bullpup frame would be nice but thats about it apart from electronic spotting sights to go with a HUD.
For use in a full military enviroment against up to date enemies in partial or full body armour you need penetration, using a 20mm grenade to take down one target is a little excesive not to mention slow unless you are using a belt fed launcher.

We are approching a point where once again personal weapons will be divided between those for use against armoured targets and for use against soft (non armoured, no pun intended) targets.
__________________
Captain Jonah.
Currently between ships due to a being slightly behind with payments and having my ship stolen by a bunch of thieving adventurers!
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old February 19th, 2004, 10:51 AM
Todg Todg is offline
Citizen: SOC-13
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: Helena, Montana
Posts: 632
Gallery : 0
Todg Citizen
Post

Quote:
Originally posted by Captain Jonah:
Firstly the drive towards smaller lighter ammo and faster rates of fire reduces both wound lethality and armour penetration.
Note above - if the velocity of kept high enough, smaller projectiles can maintain the same leves of lethality. It is particularly worth noting that KE increases with the square of the velocity, recoil is not directly derived from KE, but rather is more related to momentum. That means if you have two weapons firing projectiles with the same KE, but one uses a lighter, faster projectile that one will have less recoil.

Quote:
Without a significant improvement in chemical reaction projectiles you need to look at MLA/guass and energy weapons. Having a lighter more accurate M16 is no use if your bullets bounce off the Plastic/ceramic/alloy armour suit of the guy you are shooting at. The attack/defence swing of modern armoured vehicles comes into play once your infantry join the battlefield armoured forces.
Further, the design of the projectile has a lot to do with it's armor penetration. Consider the flechette fired by the Steyr ACR. It is a mere 10 grains, travels at 1500 m/s (at the muzzle) and can penetrate all known body armor (including all NIJ threat level IV armor - steel, ceramic and otherwise)

Quote:
Next accuracy, most soldiers can shoot target groups on a range at combat distances, the reason so many shots are fired in battle to achieve a hit is due to the vast difference between a range shoot and the intensity of a life/death firefight where your target is evading. Psycho/chemical conditioning of troops to keep them calm and controled in battle. When your troops are firing single shots and hitting better than 50% of the time you change the design of weapons to reflect this.
Even a 50% hit rate is wildly optimistic. Psychological factors are not the main reasons for low hit rates (see my original post about hitchman). The problem is that the targets are at unknown distances, they move, use cover and concealment and shoot back. Psychological conditioning is only going to address the last, and least important factor. The time and degree of exposure of the target is the most sigbnificant factor in determining a target hit. If you condition you troops to sit still and aim carefully, all you are doing is increasing the likelihood that they will become casualties.

Quote:
Lightspeed weapons (lasers) are 100% accurate. They hit exactly what you are aiming at when you fire, again the only chance of missing is due to the trooper pushing the firing stud at the wrong instant.
More precisely, lightspeed weapons are 100% precise. They always hit the same point of aim. But aiming errors are one of the single largest factors in why so many round miss. Rifles are already far more accurate than the operators using them. If we issued every soldier laser weapons today, there would not be a significant increase in the hit rate - probably none at all (under combat conditions) The weapons aren't the problem accuracy wise, the soldier is.

Quote:
Hi energy weapons add another factor, when you can fire through buildings what use is cover.
True, depending on the cover. But even these are line of sight weapons that have a linear kill path (unless they have some explosive effect). The radical departure opf weapons like the OICW is that they create a lethal AREA, and not just a lethal LINE.

Quote:
Sensors/stealth also becomes a factor when you push up the tech a bit. At our tech level tanks are drifting towards the stealthy not strong idea to go with the small wars and limited force engagements theme and as the future warrior/land warrior/ehpa project etc become more reliable you have a situation where individual soldiers are part of a comand datanet which if accurate enough will allow secondary targeting. Being shot by an enemy in the next room who cannot see you but who's squad mate 500m away can is likely to be painfull.
Agreed. High levels of integration using systems like LandWarrior is likely to act as a huge force multiplier - but it is outside the scope of the discussion of the future of small arms except where such technology directly touched the man/weapon system.

Quote:
For use against non armoured targets the M16 is a fine weapon, you can improve the firers but the weapon does the job.
No currently issued weapon has the ability to defeat the best body armor. The latest Boron Carbide NIJ level IV armor can defeat multiple hits of 30-06 armor piecing ammunition fired at point blank range. At least fragmentation producing projectiles have a higher chance of hitting a vulnerable (non-armored) area. For kinetic energy weapons (bullet launchers) the solution isn't just more power - recoil with heavy rifles is alread high enough - but new projectiles.

Quote:
Moving the mechanics into a bullpup frame would be nice but thats about it apart from electronic spotting sights to go with a HUD.
Bullpup designs have quite a following, but they have serious limitations. The only advantage of the bullpup isa shorter weapon with th same length barrel. That's it.

Bullpups have several disadvantages over conventional firearms. Inability to use with the off hand (in the case of weapons that eject a case) is a bif one, but during ergonomic studies as part of the ACR program, one of the major points against the bullpup was magazine change. Changing a magazine is much more awkward and requires much more time with a bullpup. Further, most soldiers find the neutral balance of most bullpups detrimental to instinctive fire. Soldiers firing on the moving target ranged performed best with weapon where most of the weight was forward of the pistol grip. This is not unexpected. Serious trap and skeet shooter have known about this phenomenon for years and the same phenomenon was noted in the Army's "Quick Kill" program.

Quote:
For use in a full military enviroment against up to date enemies in partial or full body armour you need penetration, using a 20mm grenade to take down one target is a little excesive not to mention slow unless you are using a belt fed launcher.
Not necessarily, considering the number of smart grenades needed to 'take down' a target vs. the number of small arms round needed to do the same job. It's all about cost effectiveness. Right now, over anywhere from 10,000-100,000 rounds are fired to produce a single enemy casualty (depending on the operation). Bullets are horribly ineffienct, particularly when compared to fragmentation weapons.

Quote:
We are approching a point where once again personal weapons will be divided between those for use against armoured targets and for use against soft (non armoured, no pun intended) targets.
Yes and no. If high velocity flechettes prove to have adequate lethality (this is an area of some debate, and there are not public studies to say for sure) a simple change in ammunition will reset the balance. Besides, the use of technologically advanced, expensive and highly effective body armor is highly restricted.

To bring this back to Traveller, the poinst you raise are extremely valid, particularly armor. in fact, Traveller seems rather 'behind the times' when it comes to personnel armor. Armor able to defeat most small arms doesn't appear until relatively high TLs , when armor that makes low tech slugthrowers obsolete should start to appear not later than TL8.

The use of armor in fact seems to be the primary reason that the Gauss rifle is a viable weapon. Aside from its armor piecing capability, it offers litlle or no improvement over the basic assault rifle. It should have about the same hit probability, has more recoil, masses about the same and only has a slight advantage in ammunition capacity. That ot saying much for a weapon introduced 5TLs above the assault rifle.

I'll be addressing just these issues in my next detailed post, covering canon Traveller weapons and how they stack up against the ideal mentioned at the beginnning of this thread.
__________________
Tod Glenn
mailto:webmaster@travellercentral.com
http://www.travellercentral.com
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old February 19th, 2004, 12:32 PM
Todg Todg is offline
Citizen: SOC-13
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: Helena, Montana
Posts: 632
Gallery : 0
Todg Citizen
Post

Quote:
Originally posted by TJP:
I'll hazard a guess as to why there are no fletchettes in standard military rifles yet - they're more expensive and harder to make than bullets, i.e. it's still more cost-effective to use bullets than fletchettes in small arms. When you're making [i]millions{/i] of them, the cost and ease of manufacture are no small matters.
Cost is certainly a factor, although indications are that Steyr was able to bring fabrication costs of flechettes much closer to conventional ammunition. Flechettes are more complex than bullets and there is just no way around it.

Another factor is the question of lethality. No one (a least publically) is really sure that flechettes are reallt all that lethal. There has been at least one published report that calls into question the supposed lethality. Dr. Martin Fackler, a well known expert on terminal ballistics had this to say:

Quote:

"Considerable confusion exists concerning the effects of flechettes. In a recent publication one finds the erroneous statement "...the flechette can inflict severe wounds by virtue of its poor stabilisation and readiness to tumble on impact...". Bellamy's "Little arrows", the classic paper on flechettes, points out a reason for the misconceptions: Many flechettes launched from artillery shells are bent by the force of the detonation. Persons close to the detonation are penetrated by these bent flechettes. It has been assumed that the bending resulted from the flechettes striking the body. Bellamy's report is in accord with this author's personal experience treating flechette wounds on the battlefield - flechettes, as used thus far in warfare, travel straight in tissue and cause very minimal tissue disruption."
It should however be pointed out that Fackler is referring to flechettes fired from artillery in 'beehive' rounds, and not serially launched, high velocity rifle flechettes. There is some indication that the latest geberation of flechettes have deen specifically designed to distort in tissue, making them likely to bend and even break into several submissiles. If true, this may mean that the latest flechettes are very lethal indeed. Rumors are that Steyr's own tests of their flechette firing ACR showed the flechette wholly satisfactory.

Lastly, it should be pointed out that just because a round is better, that will lead to it's immediate adoption. Studies (and a strong push by Peterson) in the 1930 seem to suggest that .276 was the ideal caliber, and initially, the M1 Garand was to be in .276. Hoever, then Army COS Douglass MacArthur observed that there were still millions of rounds of 30-06 ball in storage so it didn't make sense to change calibers.

In the case of the flechette, it is not just the caliber, but a whole new weapon that will likely be required. The US military is not in that big a hurry when the current weapons and ammunition seem 'good enough', particularly given the small role that the riflke plays in modern combat.

If the US, with it's gigantic budget, seems unlikely to change, imagine the likelihood of less well financed armies doing so.

And some militaries have purposefully avoided even looking at the flechette. Long before flechette rifles became a real possibility, several peace activist organizations had already condemned it. SIPRI, the Stokholm International Peace Research Institute warned of the possibility of flechette firing weapons in the 1960 and soundly condemned them. Many of the liberal Western European militaries take their cue from SIPRI. That is the reason many of these counties adopted a heavier, faster twist 5.56x45mm round, due to concerns that the original US M198 55gn bullet in the 1:12 barrel was 'inhumane'. Sweden, Norway, Switzerland and several other have denounce flechettes as too barbaric for modern war.
__________________
Tod Glenn
mailto:webmaster@travellercentral.com
http://www.travellercentral.com
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old February 19th, 2004, 12:53 PM
Todg Todg is offline
Citizen: SOC-13
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: Helena, Montana
Posts: 632
Gallery : 0
Todg Citizen
Post

Part II: Basic Traveller weapons - Rilfe and Assault Rifle

Obviously, it is difficult to fully analyze the basic Traveller weapons in the context of reality and we are forced to make certain assumptions based on game mechanics. Still it is worth comparing one weapon system with another, and looking at the features of that system and see hoe they are reflected in the game system and hoiw they track with our ideal.

It's useful to start with the basic Book 1 weapons as a baseline. In this case, we are only interested in rifle type weapons. For comparison, we will be considering the range matrix separately from the armor matrix. Again, I am using CT for comparison because that is the system I use. It has (most acknowledged) serious weakness in the area of gun combat.

The weapons of interest in book one are the carbine, rifle and autorifle. Examples for each are the Mini-14 or AR-180, M-14 and FAL, and full auto versions of FAL and M-14, as well as some belt fed LLMGs (and certainly, the BAR). Book four replaces the carbine with the assault rifle so we will use that matrix.

How do the weapons stack up?
Armor matrix NON JCK MSH CLO RFC ABL BAT
Rifle +3 +3 0 -2 +3 +1 -4
Auto Rifle +6 +6 +2 -1 +6 +3 -3

Asslt Rfl(s) +2 +2 -1 -3 +2 0 -5
Asslt Rfl(a) +4 +4 +2 -1 +4 +2 -4

The rifle has superior armor penetration to the assault rifle, which makes sense in that the rifle cartrides is typically much more powerful. However, the rifle also benefits more from full auto fire than the assault rifle, which doesn't make as much sense because the auto rilfe has significantly more recoil than the assault rifle, making autofire with a full power rifle almost useless in real life.

The autofire bonuses work out to be

Armor matrix NON JCK MSH CLO RFC ABL BAT
Rifle +3 +3 +2 +1 +3 +2 +1
Asslt Rifle +2 +2 +3 +2 +2 +2 +2

Strange. One would think that hit probabilities would all fall in favor of the assault rifle in automatic mode.

Range Matrix CLS SHT MED LNG VLG
Rifle -4 +1 0 -1 -3
Auto Rifle -8 0 +2 +1 -2

Asslt Rfl(s) -4 +1 -1 -2 -4
Asslt Rfl(a) -4 +1 +2 0 -3

As far as range modifiers, these appear to be better, although the rifle should IMHO not receive the bonuses it does at longer ranges. Tests of the M-14, for example, showed that at a mere 50 yards, it was impossible, under automatic fire, for the shooter to place more than one hit on a standard silhouette. Image inthe dispersion at 250 meters.

For CT, I have proposed the following modifications:

Armor matrix NON JCK MSH CLO RFC ABL BAT
Rifle +3 +3 0 -2 +3 +1 -4
Auto Rifle +5 +5 +2 -1 +5 +3 -3

Asslt Rfl(s) +2 +2 -1 -3 +2 0 -5
Asslt Rfl(a) +5 +5 +2 -1 +5 +2 -4

Note that the assault rifle's controlability compensates for the rifles power.

Range Matrix CLS SHT MED LNG VLG
Rifle -4 +1 0 -1 -3
Auto Rifle -8 -2 0 -2 -4

Asslt Rfl(s) -4 +1 0 -2 -5
Asslt Rfl(a) -4 +1 +2 0 -4

The rifle's autofire bonus is significantly reduced. The assault rifle's long rang performancce is also reduced.

Further, Book 4 notes that the assault rifle may not be equipped with a sight 'without considerable modification of the weapon'. This should be struck. Assault rifles have roved to be excellent platforms for optical sights and other accessories.
__________________
Tod Glenn
mailto:webmaster@travellercentral.com
http://www.travellercentral.com
Reply With Quote
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

This website and its contents are copyright ©2010- Far Future Enterprises. All rights reserved. Traveller is a registered trademark of Far Future Enterprises .
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.4
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Copyright (c) 2010-2013, Far Future Enterprises. All Rights Reserved.