A fire-control system (sometimes called FCS) is a number of components working together, usually a gun data computer, a director, and radar, which is designed to assist a ranged weapon system in targeting, tracking, and hitting its target. It performs the same task as a human gunner firing a weapon, but attempts to do so faster and more accurately.
Military fire control systems are integrated into weapons, vehicles, aircraft and naval fleets. The fire control systems help inaccurate aiming, detecting, tracking and striking a target, together with enhancing the efficacy of military operations.
The fire control systems meet most of the requirements of the modern artillery system and thus improves the effectiveness of artillery weapons in the battlefield. In almost any operational situation, the fire control system equipment is designed to give soldiers a vital tactical advantage and is suitable for border security, bases, and strategic facilities.
Modern fire control systems contain components that form one of the following three categories of subsystems: the aiming system, the fire control computer, and the sensors. The aiming system performs the task of precisely establishing the ballistic angles of elevation and azimuth for the boresight of a gunnery weapon such as a tank relative to the line of sight to the target.
The ballistic angles are computed by a fire control computer in accordance with information which it receives from the gunner and from the various sensors installed on the tank. They depend on the type of projectile being fired, range to the target, wind direction, relative velocity between the tank and the target, and other factors.
Modern fire-control computers, like all high-performance computers, are digital. Fire-control systems are usually interfaced with sensors to reduce the amount of information that must be manually entered to calculate an effective solution.
Firing capability on the move
The quality of the fire control systems currently available is primarily dependent on the precision of the aiming systems in static firing, that is, where a stationary tank is firing upon a stationary target. Improved fire control systems coming into use allow for firing on the move, and also against moving targets. These systems are very costly, as exemplified by the systems found on the American M1 tank and German Leopard 2 tank.
The firing capability on the move is obtained by the use of aiming systems providing a stabilized line-of-sight. Stabilization of the light of sight permits the gunner to observe a steady and clear landscape without disturbance from rolling and dipping due to motion, to identify the target, to aim at the target with high precision, and to accomplish firing with a high hit probability. The addition of auto-tracking to these systems further expands their capabilities as it enables precision aiming at moving targets, such as helicopters, despite the rapid shifting of the line of sight.
Existing technology in the area of stabilized sights uses biaxial deflection of the head mirror of the gunner’s sight in relation to the body of the sight which is rigidly attached to the tank turret. Control of this deflection is achieved by a biaxial platform located in the sight and inertially stabilized with the aid of rate sensors.
The angles of elevation and azimuth of the tank gun relative to the line of sight are measured by three precision angular sensors. One of these is located on the gun trunnion and measures the elevation of the gun relative to the turret. The other two are located in the sight and measure the elevation and azimuth angles of the line-of-sight through the gunner’s sight relative to the turret. The line-of-sight is independently stabilized and is under the control of the gunner. The gun is slaved to the line-of-sight through its servo positioning loops by the determined ballistic angles which are newly defined for each shot by the fire control computer. The servo positioning loops are closed by the three angular sensors.
Because of the high inertia of the gun, it cannot be slaved to the stabilized line-of-sight with sufficient precision to accomplish firing. Thus, the firing is achieved by a technique in which control of firing by the gunner is accomplished only when the actual angle of the gun approaches the calculated ballistic angle within a predetermined zone. That is, the gunner’s trigger command is inhibited until the boresight angle is within a predetermined “window”. This technique limits the ultimate accuracy of such fire control systems.
China’s Type 03 airborne infantry fighting vehicle tests its new fire control system.
The Type 03 airborne infantry fighting vehicle, currently in service with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force, will soon get a newly developed fire control system that will enable the air-droppable armored vehicle to fire while moving, a capability that can greatly enhance the vehicle’s combat performance, analysts said in March 2021. The new fire control system is currently under testing and, if everything goes well, will be put into mass production, the Ordnance Industry Science Technology, a Chinese defense industry magazine, reported on Friday.
Firing while in movement is not technically challenging for China’s arms industry, as similar fire control systems have been used on Chinese main battle tanks for a long time. However, the problem was that the previous systems were too expensive to be installed on other armored vehicles produced in mass, Ordnance Industry Science Technology said. Developed by Shan Dongsheng, a professor at the Army Academy of the Armored Forces of the PLA, the new digital image-stabilized fire control system solved the costly issue while also made it possible for armored vehicles to fire with high accuracy while moving, the report said.
The system was first tested on the Army’s Type 08 infantry fighting vehicle in 2015 and passed further tests in 2018, and was later customized for the Air Force’s air-droppable infantry fighting vehicle, the magazine reported. Judging from the report, the improved Type 03 airborne armored vehicle added an extra optoelectronic device, which Ordnance Industry Science Technology said is likely related to the new digital fire control system. It also comes with two antennas on the turret to boost the vehicle’s level of connectivity and joint combat capability, the magazine said.
A Chinese military expert told the Global Times on Sunday that the new fire control system could also be widely used on other armored vehicles, including those currently in service. The Type 03 airborne infantry fighting vehicle, which made its public debut in 2005, is a key piece of equipment for the development of the PLA airborne troops. Its commissioning means airborne troops will have mechanized support on the ground, Ordnance Industry Science Technology said.
The new vehicle is equipped with a 30 millimeter machine gun giving it strong firepower, but its previous fire control system had poor accuracy while moving and it had to stop for precise firing. This could result in the failure to take crucial combat opportunities and a higher risk of being hit by the enemy fire, analysts said.
Fire Control System Market
The fire control system market is projected to grow from USD 5.9 billion in 2018 to USD 7.3 billion by 2023, at a CAGR of 4.37% from 2018 to 2023. Some of the factors that are expected to fuel the growth of the fire control system market include the increasing military expenditure by emerging economies to strengthen their respective armed forces
High demand for precision weapon systems, use of improved and modern automatic weapon systems, development of advanced combat systems for improved situational awareness, rising expenditure on military department by developing economies to strengthen their respective armed forces are the factors driving the fire control system market.
Key companies are concentrating on the development of the accuracy of combat weapons and trying to diminish the aiming time of the system. Hence, this factor is acting as a driver for the military fire control system market. Nevertheless, factor such as smoke screens is hindering the growth of military fire control system market. Furthermore, the use of fire control systems for soldiers for enhancing the effectiveness of military operations creates ample opportunities for military fire control system market.
Based on weapon class, the fire control system market has been segmented into automatic guns and launchers. The growth of the launchers segment in the fire control system market can be attributed to the high adoption land, airborne, and naval platforms for surface-to-air warfare to engage with main battle tanks and other armored fighting vehicles. Fire control systems are used in various launchers, such as automatic grenades, missile launchers, rocket launchers, mortar launchers, and torpedo launchers.
Platform segment includes land, airborne and naval. Based on platform, the airborne segment of the fire control system market is projected to grow at the highest CAGR during the forecast period. Fire control systems play a crucial role in combat aircraft, in hitting targets in air to air missions with accuracy. Across the world, every other fighter aircraft and helicopter is installed with fire control systems. Airborne platforms have evolved to support multi-mission warfare machines capable of conducting a variety of missions. These platforms can be used for command & control, air defense, bombing, air dominance, close air support, reconnaissance, and other roles.
Weapon class segment is divided into segments such as automatic guns and launchers.
The system segment is classified into target acquisition & guidance systems, ballistic computers, navigation systems, power systems, auxiliary systems, stabilization systems and others. The target acquisition & guidance systems segment is dominating the fire control system market in 2017. High military expenditure to strengthen armed forces across developing as well as developed countries for airborne infrastructure is driving the fire control radar segment
Based on range, the fire control system market has been segmented into short range (0 to 9km), medium range (9 to 80km), and long range (Above 80km). Medium range is more affordable as compared to the long range, and is extensively used in war zones to help aim targets with maximum accuracy.
North America region dominated the global fire control system market with USD 22.46 Billion in 2017 whereas the Asia-Pacific region held the second dominant position in the market. North America is dominating the market due to noteworthy growth in infrastructural settings in conjunction with the high population growth rate, leading to an increase in demand for fire protection systems. The Asia-Pacific region is the fastest-growing region due to upsurge in military expenditures by China, India, Japan, and South Korea due to considerable growth in building infrastructure and increasing investment in offshore development in the region.
Indian fire control system is projected to witness highest CAGR. In the Asia-Pacific region, the region is an important player and is the first in terms of imports of defence equipment. The Indian government is amending policies to increase domestic production and exports. A recent government policy has allowed 100% of the defence sector’s FDI, which is anticipated to attract foreign manufacturers to manufacture in India. Visiongain believes that such government policies are projected to boost regional fire control systems market growth over the next decade.
The major players in the fire control system market include Elbit Systems Ltd (Israel), General Dynamics Corporation (US), Rheinmetall AG (Germany), BAE Systems (UK), Lockheed Martin (US), Safran (France), Leonardo (Italy), Raytheon Company (US), SAAB (Sweden), Aselsan A.S. (Turkey), Northrop Grumman (US), and Israel Aerospace Industries (Israel), among others. These players have adopted various growth strategies, such as contracts, acquisitions, expansions, and partnerships/collaborations, to further expand their presence in the global fire control system market.
For instance, in July 2018, LONGBOW LLC, a joint venture between Northrop Grumman Corporation and Lockheed Martin, secured a contract worth USD 170.5 million from the US Army for the supply of LONGBOW fire control radars.
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