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The US navy has been enhancing its gun range. A guided munition manufactured by BAE Systems and Italy’s Leonardo will triple the range of the Mk 45 guns installed on about 100 Navy vessels, keeping ships out of harm’s way in littoral operations.
The two firms announced they were partnering on adapting Leonardo’s Vulcano munition for use with BAE’s five-inch Mk 45 gun, as well as the 155-millimeter Advanced Gun System gun supplied by the firm for the U.S. Navy’s Zumwalt class of destroyers.
According to defensenews.com, the Vulcano 127-millimeter, or five-inch munition, which Leonardo has been developing with the Italian Navy for use on its 127-millimeter Leonardo-built guns, is GPS controlled. Each projectile is given coordinates and links to satellites for guidance during flight.
Steering is undertaken through moveable fins that are protected during firing by a sabot, or jacket, that falls away after the munition leaves the barrel.
Leonardo has said the 127-millimeter Vulcano munition it currently offers for use on its own guns will reach a range of up to 100 kilometers.
“Better maximum range means more security for the ship since you can operate farther offshore, while the precision means you can complete more missions with fewer munitions, because the ship’s magazine capacity goes farther than it would with conventional munitions,” said John Perri, business development director for advanced weapons at BAE Systems.
BAE and Leonardo started discussing a joint offer to the U.S. Navy after the Navy put out a request for information for a guided munition solution for the AGS gun on the Zumwalt destroyers last year, Perri said.
Citing cost overruns, the U.S. Navy last year cancelled the Long Range Land Attack Projectile program to develop a guided 155-millimeter munition run by Lockheed Martin and BAE.
“We have received very strong support from the Navy for the Vulcano proposal, and we have been invited to submit proposals,” he said.
The firms are also offering seeker technology, including a semi-active laser for picking out laser designated targets and an infrared seeker.
“The GPS is in final qualification testing with the Italian [Ministry of Defense], the semi-active laser is in the early stages of qualification testing and the IR seeker is in development testing,” said Perri.
The U.S. is reportedly also interested in guided munitions that use alternatives to GPS, given the growing risk of GPS jamming.