Orbital ATK company has received an order, the goal of which is to procure Mk 44 cannons, tailored to utilize programmable ammunition. The weapon is to be installed onboard the “Vilkas” (Wolf) APCs which are a Lithuanian derivative of the Boxer vehicle.
The first Mk 44 cannons are expected to be delivered in mid-2017. Along with the unmanned Rafael Samson Mk II turrets, 90 new cannons will be integrated with the Wolf platform in total. Besides the aforesaid cannons, the Lithuanian Vilkas carriers will also receive Spike-LR ATGM launchers.
Up until now, almost 2000 Mk 44 30 mm cannons have been delivered to the end users. In case of the Mk 44S variant, there is also an option of tailoring the weapon for using 40 mm ammunition in a simple manner. The Lithuanian APCs will receive cannons capable of firing the 30×173 mm PABM programmable rounds, the design of which makes it possible to attack targets hiding behind the obstacles or protected by fortifications, thanks to the option of defining the moment of round explosion.
In Poland, Mk 44S cannons, adapted to utilize the programmable ammunition, along with unmanned turrets, are to be installed on the newly delivered Rosomak APCs and Borsuk IFVs. The standard Mk 44 cannon is already a part of the ordnance used by the Rosomak APC, potentially options exist to modernize the said cannons, so that they are capable of shooting the programmable rounds, or rounds of larger calibres. The Armament Inspectorate has made the first steps, the goal of which would be to deliver programmable ammunition for the Polish Armed Forces. Last year information concerning a technical dialogue has been released.
Meanwhile, it is worth to note how efficient the modernization process, in the Lithuanian Armed Forces, is. Following the outbreak of the Ukrainian crisis and the increased level of the defence expenditure, a decision has been taken to initiate three significant modernization programmes, related to procurement of the second-hand PzH 2000 howitzers, NASAMS air defence systems and Boxer/Vilkas APCs. Before that, the budgetary constraints (with less than 1% of GDP allocated to defence spending) were the primary reason which hampered the modernization process in the Lithuanian Army.
At the moment all three of the aforesaid programmes are already being implemented. PzH 2000 SPHs are being delivered, moreover, a “technical memorandum” has been signed last year with the Norwegian government, the goal of which was to deliver the NASAMS air defence systems. Throughout the year 2016, additional agreement concerning the procurement of 88 Boxer APCs was also signed. Now, the said vehicles are going to receive the “programmable-ammo-capable” cannons discussed above.
During the year 2018, the defence expenditure in Lithuania is going to reach the level of 2.07% of GDP, it is also planned that equivalent indicator would be as high as 2.5%, until the year 2020. Alongside the programmes listed by us, Lithuania also decided to procure the Polish Grom MANPADS or modern firearms. The steps taken by Vilnius in the field of modernization are ruthless, they are being implemented rapidly, on a short notice.