Metal Storm

From Academic Kids

Metal Storm Limited is a research and development company that specialises in electronic ballistics equipment.

The company is based in Brisbane, Australia and owns the proprietary rights to the electronic ballistics technology invented and developed by J. Mike O'Dwyer.

There are currently no commercially available or mass-produced weapons based on the Metal Storm technology, however, they have been doing various live-firing demonstrations and tests.


The technology makes it possible to load a single gun barrel with multiple rounds and to fire each round either singly or in rapid succession with safety. The complete system is technically a muzzle loading selective fire weapon.

A 36 barrel weapon with this type of action can fire in excess of one million rounds per minute and can throw a "wall" of bullets in front of the unit being defended. Compare this with an advanced mechanical Gatling gun type weapon that can fire at a rate of 6,000 rounds per minute (e.g. M61 Vulcan).

Extremely high rates of fire are needed to increase the kinetic energy striking the target rather than to increase the number of rounds actually fired. A theoretical unit designed for ship defence using 20 mm calibre can have a maximum burst rate of 75,000rpm, firing 300 rounds in 0.24 seconds with the rounds separated by just 1 metre in flight and can be used to destroy an incoming missile. This compares with another type of missile defence system for ships that fires 12.7mm tungsten sub-calibre projectiles at 3,000 rpm, delivering one round on target every fiftieth of a second, with each round separated by over 20m. Examples of such Close In Weapons Systems CIWS are the Phalanx CIWS and the Goalkeeper CIWS.

This extremely high rate of fire is achieved by eliminating mechanical steps that would slow the rate and instead using solely electronic means in combination with specially designed bullets, which serve as shell casings as well as projectiles. Through the use of electronic controls, fire rates can be made variable and also limited in duration. For instance, a new handgun for use by police can make a quick burst of a few bullets that spread out so as to better connect with the target (using a similar principle to the shotgun). The electronics also allow the use of "security tokens" whereby the gun does not function unless the holder has the token; similar systems are more difficult to implement in mechanical firearms.

Metal Storm's technology provides a means whereby objects, such as bullets that have been tightly grouped in multiple tube containers such as barrels, can be stored, transported in and electrically fired from those same containers. The containers or barrels can be grouped in any configuration.

Numerous projectiles are stacked in a barrel, with each projectile separated by a propellant load, such that the leading propellant can be reliably ignited to fire the projectile, without the resulting high pressure and temperature causing unplanned blowby ignition of the trailing propellant load, and without collapse of the projectile column in the barrel.

This is possible through the use of bullets which expand and lock in the barrel in response to high pressure immediately in front of the bullet. As a consequence, each bullet can be fired in sequence from the barrel. An individual barrel tube when loaded with numerous rounds and provided with an electric priming system is, in effect, a complete weapon. There is no need for any ammunition feed or ejection system, breech opening, or any other mechanical operation. The only moving parts in Metal Storm's barrel technology are the bullets.

A variety of possibilities for weapons and commercial devices are being developed for minefield replacement systems, air defense, handguns, individual combat, vehicle and ship defence.

Others applications are proposed such as fire fighting and chemical placement. Different types of projectiles can be delivered such as traditional bullets, grenades, non-lethal bullets or containers of fire retardant chemicals.

See also

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