When it comes to IFV’s (Infantry Fighting Vehicles), South Africa certainly gained a wealth of experience during their “Bush Wars”, including the largest armored engagement in the Southern Hemisphere in history during the Battle of Cuito Canevale in 1987. South African Ratel 90’s, though outnumbered and outgunned, held the line against masses of soviet tanks. Denel Dynamics, whose ZT3 indigenous antitank rocket system was prototype-tested during that battle, designed a great weapons system to mount on South Africa’s newest IFV, the Badger. The Badger is SA’s variant of the Patria AMV designed in Finland. Denel Dynamics has designed a modular combat turret to be fitted with ATGM’s, mortars, a C&C variant with .50cal, or the mighty GI-30.
The GI-30 has two main features. The first being its dual hopper feed mechanism, and the second being its innovative method of operation. The dual-feed allows the gunner to select which round to fire on the fly. There are two hoppers (linkless feeders) which are hand-replenished, but hold 15 and 25 rounds respectively. This feature allows a gunner to engage complex targets rather quickly. For example: A BMP whose infantry has already dismounted. The gunner can hit the BMP with a semi-armor piercing high explosive incendiary round and then quickly switch to a high explosive round to engage the infantry dismounts with a 3 round burst at 115rpm. The total ammunition load which can be carried in the vehicle is 150 rounds.
Though the GI-30 is externally operated much like more common bushmaster type chain guns, the GI-30 operates via a drum cam instead of a chain. Though it must be more precisely made, there are less points for failure in the system (no chain). There is also no need for tensioning as with a chain system. The GI-30 can fire from a closed breech in single-shot mode, vs the Bushmaster series of auto cannons which fire from an open bolt. Denel also has asserted that the ability to fire from a closed bolt contributes to greater accuracy out to 4000 meters (roughly 2.5 miles). This, to my knowledge, is the only drum-cam operated firearm. If our readers know otherwise, please let us know!
Indigenous ammunition made by Denel’s Pretoria Metal Pressings division includes sabot (effective to 3000 meters), APIT, SAPHEI, HE, and PRAC-T. The system has had commercial success so far, with the Malaysian Royal Armor Corps as the first customer. Though the Badger has yet to prove itself in combat, with the GI-30, it should prove to be a potent component of South Africa and Malaysia’s IFV formations. With twice the range of the Ratel 90 and the ability to fire on the move, it makes for a great replacement alongside the Rooikat 105.