MELBOURNE, Australia — Taiwan has ordered the Orbital ATK 30mm Mk44 Bushmaster II cannon for an indigenous wheeled armored vehicle program, according to its Ministry of National Defense.
The contract for 285 automatic cannons, valued at $112 million, was issued on Sept. 27, according to bid documents seen by Defense News. The ministry announced it two days later. The automatic cannons will be used on an infantry fighting vehicle, or IFV, variant of the CM-32 Clouded Leopard 8x8 armored vehicle.
Ministry officials were quoted by local media as saying that the cannons will arrive “soon” with mass production of the IFV expected to start by the end of the year. Taiwan’s National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology will be responsible for designing a two-man turret incorporating the cannon for the IFV.
The cannons will be integrated with charge-coupled device cameras and mount a 7.62 mm coaxial machine gun, according to the ministry spokesperson. Taiwan had originally intended the IFV to be fitted with the 20 mm T75 revolver cannon combined with improved armor-piercing ammunition. However, Taiwanese sources told Defense News that inadequate performance of that weapon in tests led the country to seek a heavier weapon instead.
The CM-32 is based on the CM-31 6x6 wheeled armored vehicle designed by Ireland’s Timoney Technology Limited and further developed by Taiwan’s Ordnance Readiness Development Center.
Taiwan plans to produce 652 Clouded Leopards by 2020 that include an armored personnel carrier armed with a 40 mm automatic grenade launcher and a 7.62 mm machine gun mounted in a remote weapons station as well as a small number of mobile command vehicles used for battlefield command and control.
The 22 ton vehicle carries eight fully equipped troops in its APC guise and is designed to withstand 7.62 mm bullets with the frontal armor designed to defeat 12.7 mm hits. A v-shaped hull provides protection against landmines and can withstand explosions equivalent to 25 lbs of TNT under any wheel.