June 02, 2015

Mach 3 naval guns are double the speed of standard shells and brings some benefits expected from hypersonic railguns

A guided HVP (Hyper Velocity Projectile.) round from a standard Mk 45 deck gun could bring a significant margin of the railguns promised capabilities to the fleet sooner, USNI News understands. The HVPs from a traditional deck gun will be slower than one launched from a railgun — a little over Mach 3 versus Mach 5 — but still more than double the speed of an unguided regular shell from the service’s Mk 45 five-inch gun found on its guided missile cruisers and destroyers, according to information from NAVSEA.

While deck guns are standard through out the fleet, they lack the range precision of the guided missiles found on cruisers and destroyers and have had shrinking utility in high-end warfare.

A high speed guided round from a deck gun could give U.S. ships more options to deal with air and ballistic missile threats while the Navy continues to refine the railgun design.

Unlike standard high-explosive rounds, the speed of the HVPs doesn’t need explosives and relies on the force brought from its speed to destroy targets.

The addition of the HVP to the arsenal could mean instead of sending a Standard Missile to interdict an air threat, a ship could instead fire a much more inexpensive salvo of guided shells from the deck gun to handle an enemy aircraft.

According to NAVSEA, the service is also investigating using HVP in larger guns than the MK 45.

“The round is being designed to be compatible with multiple guns in the U.S. inventory,” read the NAVSEA statement to USNI News.

NAVSEA didn’t specify, but USNI News understands the Navy is looking for alternatives to the $400,000-per-round guided rocket assisted Long Range Land Attack Projectile (LRLAP) fired from the 155mm Advanced Gun System (AGS) of the Zumwalt-class guided missile destroyers (DDG-1000).

A BAE Systems designed railgun will undergo a first round of at-sea testing next year.

An artist’s conception of BAE Systems’ Hyper Velocity Projectile. BAE Systems Image


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