BAE has announced it is investing £10m to build a new 12.7mm production line at its Radway Green facility in Crewe, UK.
12.7mm – also known as .50cal – has experienced a resurgence in recent years, particularly by the British Army who found it highly effective during campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Phil Simon, Light Munitions Director at BAE Systems’ Land UK business, said:
“We’ve recently won several export orders for our 5.56mm and 7.62mm ammunition thanks to our advanced and highly efficient production methods. We intend to bring the same engineering expertise to producing 12.7mm ammunition, giving us the same cost advantage while maintaining a high level of quality.
We are building a line capable of producing 10 million rounds of 12.7mm a year, which would fulfil current UK opportunities while allowing capacity for potential future exports. The new line will also enable us to further increase output, if required, with additional production shifts.”
The company is working with the University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) to design the new line, using the latest manufacturing technology to maximise efficiency and quality.
“We already work with the ARMC in our Air business, where it has developed a number of innovations that have been adopted to support aircraft manufacture. This includes an automated production system which enables robotic countersinking technology to accurately machine holes in composite aircraft components.
We have recently invested £83m to enhance its Radway Green manufacturing facility, enabling over one million 5.56mm and 7.62mm rounds to be produced each day.
These are tested by an automatic image capture and laser measuring machine, which takes thousands of accurate measurements of each round as it passes along the production line, helping to maintain a high quality output.”