BAE Systems has received a contract to deliver multiple shipsets of the Mk 45 Medium Caliber Gun and automated Ammunition Handling System (AHS) for the Royal Australian Navy’s new Hunter class frigates.

“We are proud to partner with BAE Systems Maritime Australia to deliver the Mk 45 gun system and Ammunition Handling System to the Royal Australian Navy,” said Brent Butcher, vice president and general manager of Weapon Systems at BAE Systems, Inc.

“The highly reliable Mk 45 system maximizes the lethality of the Hunter class frigates, offers the capability to integrate advanced munitions, and supports additional future technology upgrades. With this system fielded on 11 fleets across the globe, it has proven it offers high-reliability.”

The Mk 45 gun system combines the 5-inch, 62-caliber Mk 45 Mod 4A naval gun with a fully automated AHS that continuously supplies the gun with ammunition, in high sea state conditions, without assistance from the crew.

On their website, BAE say that this automated gun system increases Sailor productivity, reduces risk to Sailor safety, and increases the operational capability of the Mk 45 at sea.

Work on the contract will begin in 2023 and finish in 2036. Engineering work will be completed in Minneapolis, Minnesota and production will occur in Louisville, Kentucky.

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George has a degree in Cyber Security from Glasgow Caledonian University and has a keen interest in naval and cyber security matters and has appeared on national radio and television to discuss current events. He also previously worked for the NHS. George is on Twitter at @geoallison
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Jim
Jim
1 month ago

So they are continuing to order systems while examining cancelling the entire project. Often it seems UK procurement is diabolical then you see Australian. 😀

Coll
Coll
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim

Canada, and Germany as well.

Jim
Jim
1 month ago
Reply to  Coll

Agree 😀

monkey spanker
monkey spanker
1 month ago

I had hoped they would give a number of systems as that may have given an indication of the units being sought.
I can’t see an alternative at this stage saving Australia any money especially without a drop in capability.
They can always scale back on some of the changes they made to the original design to get the cost down. Upgrade them at a refit.

Quentin D63
Quentin D63
1 month ago
Reply to  monkey spanker

Hi MS, I was thinking the same. It should also indicate how many Hunter T26s the RAN will be getting. Whether the nine or less, maybe one extra gun system for land based training. I don’t think any of the Anzac’s will get a newer gun and the Hobart’s already have this system.
I wonder if the UK ever considered upgrading the T45s with the 5″? Too much money for an extra 1/2″! Lol!! 😁. Canada’s going have the same 5″ across all its 15 T26s, wonder how they’re going with their program?

Last edited 1 month ago by Quentin D63
AlexS
AlexS
1 month ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

Leonardo has been awarded a contract to supply Lockheed Martin Canada with four OTO 127/64 LightWeight (LW) Vulcano naval guns, including the Automatic Ammunition Handling System (AAHS) as an optional solution, for the Canadian Surface Combatants (CSC). Three of the systems will be installed on-board the new naval units, while the fourth will be used for training activities.

Until now they ordered 4.

monkey spanker
monkey spanker
1 month ago
Reply to  AlexS

So Canada is putting the OTO 127mm cannon on their frigates while the U.K. and Australia are going for BAE 5inch.

AlexS
AlexS
28 days ago
Reply to  monkey spanker

Yes.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
1 month ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

“I wonder if the UK ever considered upgrading the T45s with the 5″? Too much money for an extra 1/2″ “

As I’m sure you know there was a project to put a 155mm gun in T45 that got scrapped because of the budget issues of trying to get to 8 which didn’t happen anyway.

Canada’s going have the same 5″ across all its 15 T26s, wonder how they’re going with their program?”

If 15 ever get built I’ll eat my hat – OK I’ll have to buy one first……

Challenger
Challenger
1 month ago

I seem to remember speculation once the 155mm project got canned but they stuck with the Mark 8 system to keep costs down. Presumably there were spares from decommissioning T42’s and it’s not been a priority to upgrade them since.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
1 month ago
Reply to  Challenger

The T45 units were old units remanufactured.

At the time it was the sole surface fleet system so it wasn’t such a silly idea.

The next move fowards had been charted….155mm….not to be.

Gunbuster
Gunbuster
1 month ago
Reply to  Challenger

It was upgraded from Mod 0 to Mod 1. New gun house. Removed most of the hydraulics and replaced it with electrics. Removed micro switches for reed switches which hardly ever have a fault on them. Ammo upgraded to base bleed to extend the range. Mod 1 is a particularly good gun. Accurate and reliable.
We Shot the deep mag out twice on PWO firings off Gib on a T23 and had 1 stoppage which was cleared PDQ (misfire) …And the cases can make really nice ashtrays…

Quentin D63
Quentin D63
1 month ago
Reply to  Gunbuster

Evening GB, out of curiosity, how many shells would the magazine hold? If it’s confidential you can give a ball park. 😆

Quentin D63
Quentin D63
1 month ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

Silly question I’ve asked before… do you reckon these could take another 1/2″ off the 4.5″ by reboring, tweak all the mechanics, electrics and hey presto we have a nice and cheap Mod 2 but 5″!?

Nick C
Nick C
1 month ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

Not sure about the 4.5” Mk 8, but way back in the day a Leander with a 4.5” Mk 6 had 550 HE in the shell room, together with star shell and chaff rounds. And we got through over 600 rounds during long gunnery course firings off Gib, the predecessor course to the current PWO. And yes the cartridge cases made very good ashtrays!

Gunbuster
Gunbuster
1 month ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

T42 was nearly 400 if I remember correctly. T23 is less than that but not significantly less

Quentin D63
Quentin D63
1 month ago
Reply to  Gunbuster

Thanks Nick & GB. That’s quite a lot of shot!

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
1 month ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

That was my point about NGFS – 400 well aimed shells do a lot damage and really help RM et al.

Whereas 48 VLS have a mixture of things…..

grizzler
grizzler
1 month ago
Reply to  Gunbuster

“And the cases can make really nice ashtrays…”
maybe they could sell ’em for chrstmas presents, and then feed profits back into the budget…

Gunbuster
Gunbuster
1 month ago
Reply to  grizzler

Unfortunately, MOD wised up years ago. They calculated how many brass cases on average went “Overboard” during a shoot so they have a ballpark figure on how many empty shell cases you should return. They get arrsey if its less than they calculate as the brass is worth a good chunk of money.

Not only ash trays. I have a 4.5 Umbrella stand (Al Faw peninsula case!) Oto Melara (Hong Kong), 3 Lb Saluting Gun cases from RN guns and the Jardine noon day gun. Lacquer saves on polishing!

FormerUSAF
FormerUSAF
1 month ago
Reply to  Gunbuster

Absolutely predict regret broaching this topic, but curious re your opinion of the acquisition of some variant of OTO Melara 76 mm, as a suitable compromise system for future RN classes? No contention that it would be an ideal selection for any role, merely a semi-rational compromise. Now seeking shelter from the inevitable incoming from multiple vectors…🤔😱😉

Gunbuster
Gunbuster
1 month ago
Reply to  FormerUSAF

I worked on Oto on the HK Patrol Boats and was the level 3 Base Maintainer. Good gun when its shooting but it has issues if it goes wrong, and those issues don’t get highlighted (Funnily enough!). Because it’s built to be lightweight its mostly light alloys with big holes cut into parts to save weight. It’s a mechanical feed system where loading a round into the gun also, via physical linkages, causes the feed ring to index, the spiral hoist to lift one round, the loading arms to cycle (There are 2) the loading arm to loading tray transfer… Read more »

FormerUSAF
FormerUSAF
1 month ago
Reply to  Gunbuster

Thanks for the explanation. Understand now why RN has passed on acquisition. 😊

AlexS
AlexS
1 month ago
Reply to  FormerUSAF

RN passed acquisition because not made in Britain.
It is over 60 navies. A naval gun would not be in 60 navies if it had issues.

If it was in Type 21/42 would have saved a couple RN ships in Falklands.

Last edited 1 month ago by AlexS
Paul T
Paul T
1 month ago

The 155mm Gun project to replace the MK8 was scrapped in the 2010 SDSR.

Quentin D63
Quentin D63
1 month ago

And cook hat well before eating.. Lol 😁

AlexS
AlexS
1 month ago

155mm naval would never work well , bag ammunition etc…

Chris
Chris
1 month ago
Reply to  AlexS

It’s easier to use bagged ammunition in naval guns than land applications. More room, a fixed position and it doesn’t have to be transported across open ground.

The 155mm naval gun project was a great one. With larger caliber tubes and new rocket powered gps guided ammo, we would see affordable 70+km NGFS.

AlexS
AlexS
1 month ago
Reply to  Chris

Ship room is at premium. Bags don’t work well for significant rate of fire.

Chris
Chris
1 month ago
Reply to  AlexS

Not compared to an artillery turret it’s not. Bag handling in a modern naval gun would be automated. The Germans already have automated bag handling on land based arty applications.

Andrew D
Andrew D
1 month ago
Reply to  Chris

Just reading the other day Japan testing 155mm rail gun on one of there navy vessels which they would not name .And have invested heavily in the project. So far trials have been successful ,oddly enough the USA call it a day with there trials.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
1 month ago
Reply to  Andrew D

If my memory is correct the US sidelined railguns because of the developments with traditional guns with smart and extended range munitions at one end but in particular the introduction of hypersonics at the other, both of which have advantages be it in cost and immediacy in the former and range and performance in the latter, squeezing the rail gun concept. Remember somewhat ironically the US did something similar with its hypersonic program a decade+ ago due to cost and doubts about viability which probably allowed railgun development to gain its momentum in the great scheme of things where costs,… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Spyinthesky
Andrew D
Andrew D
1 month ago
Reply to  Spyinthesky

Very interesting post thanks. 👍

pete
pete
27 days ago
Reply to  Andrew D

Requires a lot of power generation , there is also a lot of wear and tear as current is high. Think they are putting the money into short pulse lasers instead

Tommo
Tommo
1 month ago
Reply to  Chris

Hi Chris worked on the Mk6 which was Shell+Cordite that took 12 lads from mags to Gunbay to turret Stepping up too the Mk8 fixed Ammunition Tanked rounds 3 in the deep mag and 3 in the Gunbay fixed ammunition is a lot easier than Shell + Cordite too stow and use

Jim
Jim
1 month ago

Thank god we did not go 155mm, look at the mess that is Zumwalt.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim

That issue was down to exotic ammunition.

Jim
Jim
1 month ago

True but it did not start out that way, usual defence creep, wouldn’t it be a good idea if we did this () and before you know it your shooting million dollar artillery shells, I’m sure the actual gun system would have become a problem as well later down the line with cracking etc if it progressed. I’m pretty happy with BAE 127 mm on all our ships.

Mickey
Mickey
1 month ago

Canada needs at least 15 built. The Canadian government invested $450 million dollars with Irving in Halifax to speed up the CSC project back in August. This is to speed up construction start time by 2 years. Irving is building the last 4 of the Harry DeWolf class OPV there currently.

klonkie
klonkie
29 days ago

SB, I think you are spot on. I cant see the Canadians buying 15 -way to expensive. My guess is they’ll convert in a split of T26 and another cheaper class . I imagine the Type31 presents a good alternate solution,.

Gavin Gordon
Gavin Gordon
1 month ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

I was advised years back that mk45 installation had been discounted for the Darings since the magazine size would impinge into the voids immediately aft. This to the detriment of future missile upgrades, the benefit of which we’ll likely realise with Sea Ceptor soon. That and more advanced long range Vipers in the current silo. Did seem a good choice then and now.
RN does pretty well in the foward thinking stakes, I reckon. As we know, it’s the politicians we have to look askance at. Still looking for cuts; here and everywhere else, evidently.
Rgs

Challenger
Challenger
1 month ago
Reply to  monkey spanker

The voices calling for Australia to reduce the number of Hunter’s and look for a smaller/lighter alternative are seriously barking up the wrong tree!

As we always say ‘air is free and steel is cheap’! Corvettes or light frigates are fine for The Baltic or Med……not so much across the vast distances in the Indo-Pacific!

Range and endurance are key.

If they need to make savings then they have to both try and simplify their requirements and also accept that economies of scale are better than 2 distinct and smaller programs.

Jon
Jon
1 month ago
Reply to  Challenger

Completely agree. They can cut ships expecting to save money (as the UK did with E7 numbers recently), but history shows it doesn’t always work. When the UK cut a couple of Type 45s in order to pay for an acceleration of Type 26 and other reasons such as NEC, the cuts happened but the hoped for benefits didn’t. Monkey Spanker is right and FFBNW should be their next port of call. Interestingly David Williams, the MOD Permanent Secretary, was claiming during last week’s Defence Select Committee meeting that overbuilding ships to maintain drumbeat and selling excess on was “fine”.… Read more »

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
1 month ago
Reply to  Challenger

Certainly seems odd when critics has been around the ‘lack’ of punch in their ships missile load etc. Not sure how how smaller and lighter will solve that and likely in the end will save little, delay and provide rather less capability.

AlexS
AlexS
1 month ago
Reply to  Challenger

Air is free and steel is ship but not the propulsion etc…

DJ
DJ
1 month ago
Reply to  Challenger

BAE appear to be expecting a cut in Hunter numbers with production then switching to a destroyer version of the Hunter hull. They have been working on various options in place of the mission bay for over a year. While 10,000t for an ASW frigate appears over the top, it’s pretty standard for a Destroyer.

Jim
Jim
1 month ago
Reply to  monkey spanker

If they go for money savings they could buy South Korean destroyers which seem to have much of the AAW and land attack capability they seem to now want from an ASW frigate.

But as soon as they want to build them in Australia prices will skyrocket. Australian wages a massive compared to anywhere else and the country now has a very small largely hollowed out manufacturing sector and it also now wants to build nuclear submarines.

There’s your problem 😀

2e
2e
1 month ago

What are everyone’s thoughts on BAE’s offering of an evolved Hunter-class?
96 Mk41 VLS cells (removal of the main gun would enable the VLS cell count to grow to 128 cells), 16 canister-launched Naval Strike Missiles, shares 85% commonality with the existing design.
https://www.navalnews.com/event-news/indo-pacific-2023/2023/11/bae-offers-evolved-up-armed-hunter-for-australia/

Peter S
Peter S
1 month ago

How useful is a single 5 inch gun on a modern warship? There was criticism of the choice of 57 mm Bofors for type 31 because of its inadequacy in a shore bombardment role. But compared to the firepower of WW2 warships, the capability of a single 5 inch gun is puny. With such limited shell weight and range, what’s the point? Given the growth in capability of anti ship missiles, does spending £60m on each such gun system make sense? What is it going to be used for? Is the reality that no one knows what future naval warfare… Read more »

AlexS
AlexS
1 month ago
Reply to  Peter S

Canadians had 127 OTO Melara in their Iroquois, then changed to the 57 in Halifaxes, now returned a modern 127 OTO in Type 26 . Reportedly their 57mm tests against ships were no good.

127 Oto have Vulcano 80km guided rounds. I also think it would be a good weapon against large slow drones at 50km distance to not expend large missiles, but i am not aware of any development there.

Peter S
Peter S
1 month ago
Reply to  AlexS

Obviously, 127 mm will have a bigger impact than a 57 mm but how often is ship vs ship gun combat likely to happen?
Guided munitions with extended range give the ability to fire over the horizon, but costs start to rise towards those of missiles. The GLSDB costs @ 2× oa 127 mm Vulcano round but has much greater explosive power.
How effective is any larger calibre naval gun against fast moving missiles?

AlexS
AlexS
1 month ago
Reply to  Peter S

Large calibre guns are not effective against fast moving missiles. Without course corrected projectiles maybe not even medium one.

Gunbuster
Gunbuster
1 month ago
Reply to  Peter S

NGS, Su, AA, Star Shell (IR or Vis) . A medium range gun gives you a lot of flexibility. For NGS to support the new RM raiding doctrine they can put very very accurate fire down almost exactly where you need it. The shells are fused DA, Radar Low and Radar High so you can dig things out or shred them from above. Lot quicker calling in an NGS mission off a gunline than waiting for fast air to turn up. Same for Surface engagements, especially swarms where some Radar low/high going off above would shred everything in a 200ft… Read more »

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
1 month ago
Reply to  Peter S

How many 125 / 155 shells can you carry vs VLS size.

Can you manually reload a VLS?

You can, with a trolley and lift, manhandle 125/155mm munitions……

You ca also RAS 125/155mm.

There is the difference

AlexS
AlexS
1 month ago

Yes. You can get hundreds of 127mm rounds in a ship and can resupply them at sea, which you can not do it with VLS missiles*. If these round are guided it is an exponential capability.

*At least the current size ones.

Last edited 1 month ago by AlexS
monkey spanker
monkey spanker
1 month ago
Reply to  Peter S

I heard: The ship builder/designer was given a list of things the guns on the type 31 had to achieve. The best way to accomplish these goals was by using the 57mm and 2 x 40mm.
Supposedly that mix wasn’t the cheapest option either.

PeterS
PeterS
1 month ago
Reply to  monkey spanker

I was sceptical at first, largely because at the time there was no plan for an anti ship missile. But with mk 41 and NSM to be installed, the 57 mm makes a lot of sense.

Frank62
Frank62
29 days ago
Reply to  Peter S

The rate of fire of modern ship medium guns is much higher than WW2 mounts, hence the justification of a single gun on most escorts. They are very useful, but of course in WW2 a 4x single turret gun destroyer that had a turret go wrong or damaged would still have 3 others firing, wheras a single gun today either works when needed or doesn’t.

Frank62
Frank62
1 month ago

I hope T32/B2 T31 has this gun. Sensible we standardise on a single calibre. A lot of commonality & supply bonuses from many other NATO, USN & far east navies using the same gun.

DMJ01
DMJ01
1 month ago
Reply to  Frank62

Equally a lot of other navies use the 57mm. The USN have it on the LCS and it will be fitted to the new Constellation class as the main gun

Frank62
Frank62
29 days ago
Reply to  DMJ01

The USN makes mistakes just as we do. They started WW2 with the quad 1.1″ light AA gun whicvh proved ineffective & unreliable in combat & it took a year or two before they were replaced with quad 40mm.
The 57mm is a great gun, but not large enough for an escort MG.

Tom
Tom
1 month ago

So the Australians cannot design/create/make their own deck gun, without the interference of the monopoly driven BAE systems?

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
1 month ago
Reply to  Tom

That’s hardly an uncommon scenario, we can’t produce our own tank guns any more despite once excelling in it how would they produce enough of such a weapon to cover the ridiculous amount of development to do so? It’s. It’s a Bae America product so not directly a UK Bae product and existed prior to Bae buying the Company that makes it. One presumes it was decided upon by Australia as the best system of its kind available at the best cost and the obvious choice as Australia is deeply tied in with the US military and particularly at sea… Read more »

Jim
Jim
1 month ago
Reply to  Tom

Neither can the USA or UK, what’s your point.

Mark L
Mark L
1 month ago
Reply to  Tom

Almost all modern Western medium calibre guns are produced by BAE Systems: 5″and 57mm, or Leonardo (ex-Oto Melara): 5″ and 76mm. The BAE guns were originally designed by United Defense and Bofors respectively.

Gunbuster
Gunbuster
1 month ago
Reply to  Tom

The Anzac FF have the same gun and have for decades but its an earlier Mod Version. Over 10 navies world wide use the mk 45 gun.

webster454
webster454
1 month ago

I cant be the only one to think why put a picture of a mk8 4.5 inch naval gun at the top of article about a 5 inch mk45, can I?

monkey spanker
monkey spanker
1 month ago
Reply to  webster454

Oh yeah. It’s the picture from Wikipedia taken on HMS defender.

Quentin D63
Quentin D63
29 days ago

Off topic. See Romania is looking at USD4.2 bn short-med GBAD. Hope the UK MBDA puts in CAMM/CAMM-ER for this. A repeat of Poland would do nicely and then CAMM/A140 for their navy. What’s happening with UK GBAD? Anything?

RobW
RobW
28 days ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

Yes quite a lot, the integrated review refresh and command paper spelled it out I believe. Aim is to double Sky Sabre/Land Ceptor, replace Stormer, extend Starstreak life, and other anti drone measures. One would assume CAMM ER but no official word as far as I can see.

Quentin D63
Quentin D63
28 days ago
Reply to  RobW

Thanks for the update Rob. Double CAMM for GBAD sounds good. Bases, Ports, key infrastructure, overseas, all useful to have before not later. Hope the Starstreak gets some ER treatment. Like to see the later integrated onto the SEA Ancilla mount or even into the Raytheon RAM/ESSM mounts and paired with Phalanx’s and Artisan. Could feasibly then go on every major RN ship, Carriers and even RFAs. Talking of ships there’s a nice article on NL today on the upgraded Hunter T26s. Be interesting to see what comes of that for the RAN here and maybe the T83. If the… Read more »

Last edited 28 days ago by Quentin D63
Ian Tupper
Ian Tupper
29 days ago

Why not the Oto 5″ . Greater rate of fire. EXRAM available.