One Round, Many Possibilities
To-date, ST Engineering has developed more than 50 variants of the 40mm round. Aw Cheng Hok, Senior Vice President/ Head, Special Project, Advanced Material Engineering has been involved in 40mm development for nearly 40 years. He explains why the round is so well received by armed forces around the world.
Q: Why so many variants?
A: The 57 variants developed are based on the understanding of our different customers’ requirements. We make an effort to visit and engage our customers and this helps us to develop new ideas, or customise solutions to meet specific operational needs.
Q: What is it about 40mm that makes it so versatile?
A: The 40mm weapon system is widely used by armed forces worldwide as a multi-purpose weapon system and is effective for engaging a wide variety of stationary and mobile targets through direct or indirect fire. As direct fire, the 40mm fragmentations are far more efficient in anti-personnel roles than other direct fire ammo like 7.62mm and 12.7mm machine gun bullets. In addition, in many conceivable tactical scenarios, enemy troops will be out of range of direct fire weapons, and 40mm can be used to engage them by indirect fire with its parabolic trajectory.
Q: Can you share about the most memorable engineering challenge you’ve faced?
A: We were the first in the world to develop the patented 40mm ABMS (Air Bursting Munition System) to allow soldiers to engage the enemy hiding behind cover. Subsequently, two European competitors developed alternatives based on a different concept of programming. This spurred us to improve our system and keep us on top of our game. With perseverance and an engineering passion mindset, we innovated a revolutionary way to compensate actual round muzzle velocity at the time of being fired from the weapon. We have patented our innovation and to date, continue to be the leading ABSM supplier in the world.
Q: What impression did it make on you and what were the lessons learnt?
A: Innovation is the first key to success. Then you must have a “never give up” mentality. The final ingredient is teamwork. In engineering, if you dare to dream it, and are willing to work hard at it, you can surely achieve it.
Q: In your opinion, what makes a good ammunitions / weapons engineer?
A: You must have passion, technical competence and creativity; truly enjoy complex problem solving and working with others as a team. It also helps if you understand the manufacturing processes well in order to develop a product that works, and is producible at a lower cost.
First published in “ST Engineering Land Systems Circa 2020 Special Edition” publication.
January 2021 • 5 mins read