-John Brooks, former president of Firepak Oil and Gas Industries.
-Philip Alpers, Adjunct Associate Professor Sydney School of Public Health.
What was Metal Storm Limited and the Metal Storm Weapon System?
The Metal Storm Limited Company and the Metal Storm technology were the brainchild of a single man: James Michael O’Dwyer. In 1991, at age 47, Australian native O’Dwyer sold his food wholesale business to dedicate his brain, time, and money for developing the gun he imagined would change the world and revolutionize firearms. According to O’Dwyer, part of his motivation to create such weapon system was his own family’s history. O’Dwyer father was one of the last Australian soldiers to fall in World War II. O’Dwyer believed that had his father and his comrades had better weapons, he might survived to return home to his 10 month old son. In 1993 O’Dwyer establish Metal Storm Limited (MSL) based in Brisbane Australia, the company research and developed the Metal Storm key technology of electronic ignition of stacked projectiles. The initial investment to get MSL off of the ground came from O’Dwyer selling everything, betting it all on the power of his idea of this futuristic firearm technology.In 1996, Lockheed Martin reviewed and validates the Metal Storm technology and concept provided the tail wind needed to drive MSL from weird techno-gimmick to a real and serious game changing option in the realm of military firearms. Following Lockheed Martin’s report, MSL enjoyed a steady stream of governmental research funds from both sides of the Pacific, both American and Australian defense departments and militaries along with number of American defense industries funneled US and AUS Dollars toward MSL.
However, although many Metal Storm weapons were developed and tested over the years, no major purchasing order was ever made for any number of products, short of very small batches for evaluation.
Without any buyers standing in line and with dwindling research funds in July 26th 2012 MSL announces it suspending their shares from trade and the company has been placed under voluntary administration.
The Progenitors of the Metal Storm
The Metal Storm concept can be trace back to two interesting, but at the end, failed gun concepts/layouts from which the concept of Metal Storm was drawn from.
Electric ignition have many advantages: first eliminating the lock time between trigger pull and start of ignition improving the gun accuracy
Third, makes computerized the gun much ease task as there is no mechanical part to block for prevent unauthorized use or trigger actuation in the case of say Tracking Point firing computer.The down side of course is the need for electric power source and in the case of small arms that is usually a battery. While the necessity of spare batteries for gun operation is not something to brush a side it is not the main reason why militaries and other don't switch to electronic.
Feeding the Beast – Reloading Metal Storm
MSL developed two distinctive method to load ammo into their guns:
Loading one by one
Igniting the powder charges stacked in the barrel is the job of the electronic ignition system and MSL developed two different types for their various weapons.
Second approach is to place coils around and outside the barrel, spaced along the barrel with intervals identical to the length of the cartridges the gun was designed for. Each of those cartridges have its own coil with its axis collinear with the barrel and gun's coils axis and each of those cartridges coils is place more or less in line with its own barrel's coil. When firing the gun sent AC current to the designated coil and the coil produce magnetic flex, the flex induce current in the cartridge coil and ignite the cartridge charge.
Since the ignition current can be induce through the solid wall of the barrel in is unnecessary to drill holes for any spark-plugs and the gun can be loaded individual cartridges and not pre-stacked tubes.
Preventing Chain Reactions
The danger of chain reactions plagued the superpose charge concept of Metal Storm from day one and it was item no. 1 on the list MSL engineers needed to solved. MSL come with two arrangements to tackle the problem:
The Cultural Context of Metal Storm
Advantages of Metal Storm
High ROF and Low-Time-to-Fire
"Smarting” Up the Gun
Weight and Size
Easily Programmable Projectiles
Several proposed weapon systems in recent years were based around programmable projectiles, the most famous be the air-bursting grenades in the XM25 system. The idea is that a munition could be programmed and even re-programmed after entered the chamber following the dynamic situation the shooter encounters.To program the round, even while totally encapsulated in the firing chamber, the programming weapon using the same technology MSL used for ignition – induction coils. Regular guns are require additional coils on top of the chambering-ejection system, which Metal Storm weapons don't have, and firing system, which Metal Storm is already use induction coils. Metal Storm guns can use the coils both for projectile programming and charge ignition instead of having two separate systems, lowering cost and complexity.
Those fake shells are single shot while the Metal Storm spotter/training tube could have been multi-shot. After being lined into the insert barrel, the rounds were to be activated by the surrounding barrel induction coils without the need to install different firing mechanism.
Proprietary Ammunition and Hardware
If your guns you are selling could only be fed by the ammo only you can make, and that ammo could be used only by those guns, your clients will be reluctance to commit to both the guns or ammo alike; you may be out of business and the client be stacked with fancy guns with dwindling ammunition stocks with no way of resupply, or the guns maybe crappy and the client may be left with stocks of ammo boxes no gun in his arsenal could use.]How do you turn the problem into good selling point? MSL actually tried to sell this trait as an advantages to law enforcement agencies as a way to deter criminals or corrupt police officers from selling those guns at black market. As MSL is by all definition, cornering the market for all Metal Storm guns & ammunition and there is no easy way to “hand-load” spent cases or tubes every stolen metal storm gun is as good and operational as the number of rounds in the barrel. The other way, is also true as any stolen crate of Metal Storm ammunition won't be useful with regular guns.
Gun built-in Round Counter and Identification Electronics
Small Ammo Capacity
Low Velocity Projectiles
Clearing Dud Rounds from the Barrel
Mass and Cost of Munition Tubes
Variable Barrel Lengths and Muzzle Velocities
When a cartridge is loaded into hot firing chamber heated from previous shots, there is the danger the heat will transfer into the propellant through the case and spontaneously ignite it and shot the round without human involvement. Which is very bad if the gun ain't pointing at that moment toward whoever you want dead.
The problem of cock-off hinder every caseless weapon program as the lack of case around the propellant mean that there is no barrier between the hot metal of the chamber and the round's propellant.
No Way to Estimate to Number of Rounds Left in Munition Tubes
List of Metal Storm Limited Guns
The gun were meant to house several barrels with different types of ammo both lethal 9mm rounds and larger less-than lethal bean bags. This volley pistol could be switched from lethal to less-than lethal and back with a flip of a switch, hence its name: Variable Lethality.
The result was MAUL, a light-weight shotgun (1 Kg empty) capable of firing 5 shots in fast semi-auto firing from a preloaded 5 rounds tubes. The gun could be fitted under M4 or as a stand along model. The gun lack of mechanical loading process enable different types of munition to be used indifferently when regular auto loading shotguns don't takes kindly different loaded like non-lethal as those are underpowered to cycle the gun.
Area Denial Weapon System – ADWS
The Firestorm turret was install on top of iRobot's Warrior UGV for demonstrations. Other unmanned platforms to include Firestorm derivate are Foster-Miller Talon with four 40mm barrels placed side by side and Dragonfly Pictures Inc. DP-5X UAV with two barrels installed, each in the one of the UAV two pylons.Those barrels based on the standard 'block-stone' of four 40mm grenades stacked in a rear loading barrel.
Advance Sniper Rifle?
A handheld Metal Storm Machinegun?
Metal Storm Limited Foreign Appearance
Mostly, the Metal Storm venture was an American – Australian venture, the company HQ based in Brisbane, Australia with American branch in Arlington, Virginia. Founding and contracting by government agencies such as DARFA and DSTO or as sub-contractors for bigger American weapon companies, most of the team-ups were with American companies too, as with the potential customers. However, MAL did have several interactions with other nations.
Simultaneously, an Australian-Chinese businessman name Jun Yang (楊軍) claimed he been contacted by government agents in one of his visits in the homeland to establish a contact with MSL to purchase technologies on their behalf. A mountain-sized grain of salt should be taken with both of these men’s claims
O'Dwyer by then was retired and out of the loop so acquiring him for $100 million sound unreasonably Ludacris expensive for a technology that at 2006 already all acknowledged as a dead horse.As for Jun Yang it turn up that the man was and still is a member of the Falun Gong movement (法轮功) which opposed the People’s Republic of China central government. Meaning that no sane military intelligent agent will trust someone like Yang and Yang himself was every reason to lie and made false accusations against the much hated Chinese government. Nevertheless, it appear the Chinese did spent some effort into study and developed the technology themselves. A few academic articles involving Metal Storm concepts surface on the web, last one being from 2016, reveal that some research is done by Nanjing University of Science and Technology with the focus on Metal Storm naval applications similar to the CIWS.
Papua New Guinea
PNG preferred the MAUL as they offered the ability to suppressed jail riots without casualties and the incompatibility of MAUL and its ammo with regular shotguns and regular shells insured the likelihood of gun stealing be minimal. The deal never materialized as Tony Aimo faced opposition back at PNG parliament, members of the opposition questioned him about the extent and necessity of the deal been a large amount of money for yet, unproven gun. Aimo claimed that MSL announcement wasn't correct, as only a small number of 50 units were ordered for evaluation and planned purposes for a delivery date of February 2011. No further news from MSL or PNG media had appeared since and most likely the deal terminated without any MAULs being delivered. Philip Alpers of Sydney University, an expert of PNG small arms status, conform this assumption but can't exclude the small possibility that very limited number of MAULs had delivered as “gifts” or “souvenirs” to high official officers in PNG correctional service as it is a common practice at such places in the world.
Metal Storm Civilian Applications
Coupled with the generators launcher was a parallel 12.5mm diameter projectile launcher, those smaller rounds were an inert 'window-breakers' bullets for clearing the firing path from any glass window between the choppa and the fire inferno raging inside.
System were developed for legendary UH-1 “Huey” helicopter with minimal installation time needed (up to 5 minutes).
Sabot and Squeeze-bore Ammunition
There are and were two methods to achieve the goal: sabot and squeeze-bore ammunition. The sabot is the more familiar of the two, a tubular sleeve called sabot (“little shoe” in French) is placed around a projectile smaller in diameter than the barrel from which it be fire from, the sabot hold the projectile when the charge is ignited and acts as a piston, driving the projectile down the barrel and if the barrel is rifled latch to the rifling to spin itself and the projectile. After the saboted projectile leave the barrel it damped the sabot and continue with smaller more aerodynamic projectile. The squeeze-bore ammunition is in essence similar to the sabot ammo with the sabot is a part of the slug and instead of separation after leaving the gun the squeeze-bore ammo is collapsing its flange narrower as it move through the ever squeezing barrel. Both technologies used for anti-tank roles with large diameter projectiles and numerous attempts been made to scale down both the sabot and squeeze-bore to small arms calibers but all failed. If in the future someone could find a way to that, scale those rounds down it could favor Metal Storm technology too.Since the charge diameter of the metal storm round is identical to the bore diameter, separating the projectile diameter from the bore will end the projectile to propellant poor mass ratio that crippling to Metal Storm guns.
Loading rounds into the barrel one-by-one like done in regular guns with tubular magazines is time consuming effort, ideally several of the methods and devices currently and past used for quick load rounds to tubular magazine could be implemented for stacked load too. The closest example to Metal Storm system, with its storage barrel located behind the firing barrel is the American Civil War-era Spencer rifle which had tubular magazine behind the barrel nearly collinear to it. Reloading the Spencer done by unplugged the back of the buttstock and its spring and toppling fresh cartridges from metal tubes, each contain 7 rounds, before plugging the buttstock. Even with those tubes reloading wasn't easy, the user had to point the gun down to pour the rounds downward and there wasn't any seal preventing them to fall if not aligned with the magazine. Better and modernized designs will have internal magazine spring to push the rounds and leaf spring magazine lips to holds those in until the tube was push against the gun rear entry which release the rounds from the tube into the gun.
Nearly all possible configuration were examined at SPIW & ACR for increase the number of bullets but the relevant to this article is the duplex and triplex cartridges, those were regular cases containing two or three projectiles stacked nose to tail and meant to be shot of the barrel together and separate from each other in midair to form the equivalent of a short burst. The problem that those bullets usually never separate and simply fly on as large unstable un-aerodynamic bullet.
Primer Actuated Cartridges
Unfortunately, chamber and extract such long cartridges require long bolt travel path back and forward. If only there was a way to chamber & extract laterally instead of axially…
Well someone did, in the 1950's a man name David Dardick came up with a novel idea.
This non-stopping process of scooping, chambering and ejecting is much more fast and continues than the reciprocating bolt and more important it isn't sensitive the cartridge length. Multi-round Trounds could be chamber and eject with very short pauses maximized the net ROF.
Different Propellant Charges Sizes and Computer-controlled Gas Valve
When the gun is loaded with rounds one-by-one, the compensate will be done via an computer control gas valve. This valve will vent out a small amount of the propelling gas out of the barrel and slowly, with each shot ,will be automatically closed resulting in a uniform muzzle velocity to the rounds.
Metal Storm and Science Fiction
The VLe pistol from Soldier of Fortune: Payback
The Bulldog Shotgun from Call of duty Ghost & Advanced Warfare
The Redback RWS UGV from Call of Duty: Black Ops II
The Storm PSR Sniper Rifle from Call of Duty Black Ops: II
The Schipunov 42 from Battlefield 4
M320 3GL from Battlefield 4
The Metal Storm Weaponry from Act of Aggression
The DX4 "Vaporizer" from CSI Miami epsiode "Guerillas in the Mist"
The Perimeter Metal Storm Turrents from the FWS Flash series Custom
*Pulse: A Chess Team Adventure; full metal storm arsenal
CIWS pods, Remington G4 Assault carbine & silenced VLe pistol from Axis of Time
Metal Storm CIWS Ghost Fleet: A Novel of the Next World War
The Metal Storm equipped M1 Abrams and Shiva Self-Propelled Gun from the Posleen War Series
Posleen sensor tech is based on passive detection, it can detect accurately and immediately any self-propelled projectile like rockets and smart shells and taking them out of the sky but completely blind the regular dumb shells. Humanity is resort back to heavy cannons bombarding tactics but with a twist, instead of the regular guns a heavy metal storm pods are developed and mount on armored vehicles. The first to carry those pods are retrofitted the American M1 Abrams Main Battle tanks and later, after proved affective, the gigantic Shiva self-propelled artillery. This Self-propelled artillery piece is loaded with many Metal Storm turrets to be used against the Posleen's mass attacks and for taking down the Posleen landings ships.
The M100 assault rifle from Scarecrow by Matthew Reilly
The VLe pistol from Those Who Walk in Darkness & What Fire Cannot Burn
The novel Those Who Walk in Darkness and its sequel What Fire Cannot Burn revolved around Soledad O'Roark, a police officer at LA Metanormal Tactical Unit. In this universe the metanormals are gifted superhumans the rest of humanity is waging war against. Task to the job of hunting metanormals O'Roark is armed with VLe pistol, each barrel is loaded with different type of ammo as each "freak" as O'Roark call them was a different vulnerability. In 2003, Those Who Walk in Darkness", a short animated film starting rapper Lil' Kim voice as Soledad O'Roark, released straight to DVD. According to all reviews on line the movie is Z-rated one, don't know if the movie's Soledad service pistol is VLe or not.
Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Blacklist Aftermath
Next Time on FWS Armory...Poking Holes in the hull
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