Shares Offered In Smart
Gun That Shoots Down
Cruise Missiles
By Amanda Onion
SYDNEY (AFP) - An Australian company that developed a "smart gun" able to fire millions of rounds a minute is to be partly floated on the stock exchange in its quest to revolutionise world ballistics technology.
Along with a capacity to fire many times faster than existing weaponry, the "metal storm" uses electronic technology which can be personalised to prevent unauthorised use -- for instance by a crazed gunmen.
Its inventor, Brisbane businessman Mike O'Dwyer, says that as a military weapon, it would shoot down, for instance, incoming anti-ship missiles, cruise missiles or even destroy smart bombs.
But as a conventional looking handgun or rifle it has the potential to tap into the 500 million US dollar civil firearms market at a time when enhanced gun safety is a major political issue after the Columbine school massacre in Colorado.
It would be useable only after it was accessed by radio frequency, code activation or fingerprint recognition.
Dwyer quit his business as a retailer five years ago to concentrate on development of the weapon which took the international arms industry by storm after being described in journals around the world.
It has a proven capacity to fire at a million rounds a minute, and the potential to fire at 10 times even that rapid-fire rate. America's fastest machine gun, the Phalanx anti-missile gun, fires at a maximum of 6,000 rounds a minute.
Metal Storm Ltd, which has forged strategic alliances with major government agencies and defence organisations in Australia and the United States, is offering four million shares at 3.00 dollars (two US) a share.
Of the 12 million dollars to be raised, half will fund continuation of research and development programs and a further 1.5 million dollars will be used to set up what Dwyer calls an operational US beachhead.
O'Dwyer and listed investment group Charter Pacific Corporation Ltd will continue to hold more than 80 million shares in the company.
It will have a market capitalisation, based on the offer price. of 252 million dollars on its July 9 listing with the Australian Stock Exchange. The offer, fully underwritten by Dicksons Ltd, closes on June 28.
The company, established in 1994 with the backing of 15 seed capitalists, has worked closely in recent years with Australia's defence department, with the US-based General Dynamics Armament International Corporation and Science International Corporation.
O'Dwyer told AFP the successful evaluation and prototype firing of the weapon in conjunction with independent agencies in Australia and overseas had accelerated its research and development program.
The technology, he says, is now moving closer to having the potential to revolutionise key elements of the defence industry in the next millenium.
Prototypes of the gun, initially developed in O'Dwyer's backyard garage, were made by Australia's Olympic rifle gunsmith, MAB Engineering of Brisbane.
"I set out to produce a weapon that threw more lead than existing technology because when I looked at existing technology just as a curious inventor, it seemed to me that for all the complexity there was not much lead coming out", O'Dwyer told AFP two years ago.
What he produced is electronically controlled with multiple barrels and an infinitely variable rate of fire, but no mechanical moving parts, no opening breach and no movement of ammunition from the magazine.