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Navy Interested in Guided Rounds for Surface Ships Pending Price Reductions

USS Porter (DDG-78) fires its MK 45 5-inch lightweight gun during a weapons training exercise on April 3, 2015. US Navy Photo

USS Porter (DDG-78) fires its MK 45 5-inch lightweight gun during a weapons training exercise on April 3, 2015. US Navy Photo

PENTAGON — The Navy is still interested in pursuing guided rounds for naval guns on its surface fleet but waiting for the technology to get cheaper before moving forward, the director of surface warfare said Wednesday in a press briefing with reporters.

The Navy has pursued a guided five-inch round for the service’s Mk 45 five inch guns on its guided missiles cruisers and destroyers in fits and starts since the mid-1990s with limited success.

“I’m at a point where I’m extraordinarily interested in as soon as the cost comes down to something I can make a reasonable case for,” said Rear Adm. Peter Fanta.
“So I’m looking at a number of different guided rounds, extended range guided rounds.”

The idea is to fire a rocket assisted guided weapon far beyond the 13 nautical mile range of the standard munitions to strike targets accurately faster and more cheaply than longer range guided missiles.

The Navy has been successful procuring guided weapons for the 155mm Advanced Gun System for the Zumwalt-class (DDG-1000) guided missile destroyers — the BAE Systems Long-Range Land Attack Projectile (LRLAP).

But reducing the size to the smaller MK 45 weapon has been a challenge for the service.

In 2008, the Navy canceled the Raytheon’s five-inch Extended Range Guided Munition (ERGM) after a failed 15 years development process.

Last year the Navy began reexamining the guided round question.

In June, Naval Sea Systems Command issued a request for information (RFI) to industry for a more than 61-inch round for “Naval Surface Fire Support (NSFS) / Land Attack missions, and increase capabilities for Anti-Surface Warfare (ASuW), including against Fast Attack Craft (FAC) and Fast In-Shore Attack Craft (FIAC).”

Raytheon, BAE Systems, Oto Melara and Lockheed Martin are all thought to have responded to NAVSEA’s RFI.

But cost will still be a prime factor for further work.

“At this point I’m still not convinced that the cost still doesn’t have a significant chunk to be reduced,” Fanta said.

  • Curtis Conway

    With the units in the field at present with Allied navies we should be able to buy or cobble together something useful. The real gems will be IR and other seekers in the EM spectrum. A little rocket assist and here we go.

    The IR is what the Marines will be looking for although current GPS technology will work fine for land targets. Maneuvering targets will require a little more work. I’m confident Dahlgren can do the job.

    Additionally, this is one of the items that would be high on the priority list of, and shepherded by, a Specified Commander for Electronic Warfare. Knowledge and use of the EM Spectrum across the battlefield by all combat elements, in concert, is key and important. Can you imagine kicking out an artillery round looking for a VHF transmitter in real time? It’s possible, but one could not do this independently, or indiscriminately. We have the network. Now we need to learn how to use that network effectively.

    • James B.

      Guided rounds is one of the areas where armies are far in advance of the Navy. M982 Excalibur and M712 Copperhead are guided 155mm rounds, I sure home the 155mm AGS can fire them.

      • Secundius

        @ James B.

        The 155mm munitions round is a NATO compatible Universal Round. Every or any country in the world, that uses the 155mm NATO round can fire them…

    • Old Navy civilian

      An IR and a SAL guided projectile for 5 inch guns were developed at Dahlgren in the mid 70’s. Then the program office directed this technology to the Army, apparently because they went to contract on their guided projectile before the Navy.

      • Curtis Conway

        I would like to see some more on SAL guided rounds. The M1156 Precision Guidance Kit (PGK) is a fuse substitution unit which will fit 105mm round and is supposed to start testing soon.

      • Curtis Conway

        Commonality of the naval gun on EVERY surface combatant has conspicuously not been a design criteria for some time, much to my chagrin. It’s a economic decision, not a mission set and capability decision. Wrong headed. Fewer ships capable of handling more things have more utility (e.g., Safer and more mission ready) than mission specific ships that find themselves in the wrong place, at the wrong time . . . and we are not in control . . . and rue the day! Plan for the worse and hope for the best.

  • John Lyman

    I was Leading Gunner’s Mate in USS KINKAID (DD 965) when she went through her first overhaul at Long Beach NSY in 1981-2. A small portion of the projectile stowage areas in both forward and aft 5-inch magazines were altered for stowage of longer-than-standard guided projectiles, which we were assured by the planners “were coming out soon.” That was 33 years ago, and the Fleet is still waiting for the capability and flexibility such rounds have been described as providing.

    • Secundius

      @ John Lyman.

      Even going back to the Mk. 42 5-inch (127mm/54-caliber) Naval Artillery Gun, It was part of the Design, to Build the gun to except munitions that weren’t even invented yet. The problem was, that nobody predicted Program Cancellations during the Cold War, due to Cost Overruns, Funding Problems and Advances in Missile Technologies…