Advanced Gun System

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Advanced Gun System
US Navy 090916-N-9999K-003 The Office of Naval Research's Advanced Gun Barrel Technology Program demonstrates a new coating to extend 155-mm barrel life during a test demonstration.jpg
Test firing of Advanced Gun System
TypeNaval artillery
Place of originUnited States
Production history
DesignerBAE Systems Land & Armaments
Designed1996
ManufacturerBAE Systems Land & Armaments
Produced2010
No. built6
Specifications
Weight104 tons

Caliber155 mm (6.1 inch)
Elevation+70 / −5 degrees
Rate of fire10 rounds per minute (rpm)
Effective firing range83 nautical miles with Long Range Land Attack Projectile (LRLAP)

The Advanced Gun System (AGS) is a naval artillery system developed and produced by BAE Systems Armaments Systems for the Zumwalt-class destroyer of the United States Navy. Designated the 155 mm/62 (6.1") Mark 51 Advanced Gun System (AGS),[1] it was designed to provide long range naval gunfire support against shore-based targets. A total of six of the systems have been installed, two on each of the three Zumwalts. The Navy has no plans for additional Zumwalts,[2][3] and no plans to deploy AGS on any other ship. AGS can only use ammunition designed specifically for the system. Only one ammunition type was designed, and the Navy halted its procurement in November 2016 due to cost ($800,000 to $1 million per round), so the AGS has no ammunition and cannot be used.[4][5][1]

History[edit]

The Zumwalt class and AGS were designed and developed in the context of the United States battleship retirement debate. Battleship proponents argued that the battleships should not be decommissioned until an alternative method of providing naval gunfire support could be deployed, while others argued that such support was no longer needed in the era of missiles and aircraft.

There has been research on extending the range of naval gunfire for many years. The 203 mm 8"/55 caliber Mark 71 gun was the US Navy's Major Caliber Lightweight Gun (MCLWG) program. The system was designed and tested in 1975 but the program was terminated in 1978. Gerald Bull and Naval Ordnance Station Indian Head tested an 11 in (280 mm) sub-caliber saboted long-range round[6] in a stretched 16"/45 caliber Mark 6 gun in 1967.[7] The Advanced Gun Weapon System Technology Program (AGWSTP) evaluated a similar projectile with longer range in the 1980s.[6] After the battleships were decommissioned in 1992, the AGWSTP became a 127 mm (5-inch) gun with an intended range of 180 km (110 mi), which then led to the Vertical Gun for Advanced Ships (VGAS). The original DD-21 (1994 precursor to the Zumwalt-class design) was designed around this "vertical gun", but the project encountered serious technology and cost problems.

Originally designed for mounting as a vertical gun adapted from the VGAS design, this 155 millimetres (6.1 in) AGS has since been designed and produced for mounting within a more conventional turret arrangement. The AGS is designed to offer a weapon system capable of delivering precision munitions at a high rate of fire and at over-the-horizon ranges. As a vertical gun system it would only have been capable of firing guided munitions; the turret mounting will allow the use of unguided munitions as well if any are developed for it. AGS is not designed to use the same munitions as other artillery, so each type of munition must be designed and manufactured specifically for AGS.[4]

The development of new ammunition for the AGS under the name Long Range Land Attack Projectile (LRLAP) was to be a major advance offered by the AGS program; it featured separate projectile and propellant portions. The munitions were to be highly accurate, with a circular error probable (CEP) of 50 m (160 ft) or less. Lockheed Martin's flight test of the munition in July 2005 had a reported a flight distance of 59 nautical miles (109 km; 68 mi). However, LRLAP procurement was cancelled in 2016.[4][8] As of 2018, the Navy had no plan to replace it.[5]

AGS was developed and produced by BAE Systems Armaments Systems (formerly United Defense) for the Zumwalt-class destroyer of the United States Navy. The first magazine was delivered to the U.S. Navy on 25 May 2010.[9]

Description[edit]

The AGS uses the same 155 mm caliber as most American field artillery forces, although it is unable to fire the same ammunition.[10] The gun barrel is 62 calibers long, and is able to fire the entire magazine (300+ rounds) with an average rate of fire of ten rounds per minute using a water cooled barrel. The AGS is mounted in a turret specifically designed for the Zumwalt class destroyer with fully automated ammunition supply and operation. The turret itself is designed to be stealthy, allowing for the entire length of the barrel to be enclosed within the turret housing when not firing.

A primary advantage of the AGS over the existing 127 mm Mark 45 5" gun which equips most major surface combatants of the US Navy is its increased capability for supporting ground forces and striking land targets. With a 10-round per minute capacity, it offers the ability to deliver the firepower of a battery of six 155 mm howitzers.[11] This will increase the utility of vessels equipped with the weapon, especially in areas in which the US Navy exercises absolute sea supremacy.

Ammunition[edit]

AGS cannot use ammunition designed for existing artillery, so each type of ammunition must be designed and manufactured for AGS. The only type to be designed as of 2018 is the LRLAP. LRLAP procurement was cancelled and there are no plans to replace it.[5] Other projectiles were examined to replace the LRLAP, but since it is the only munition designed to be fired from the AGS, the barrel, software, cooling system, and automated magazines would have to be modified to accommodate a different round.[12][13] It could cost up to $250 million in engineering costs to modify all six guns on the three ships to accept a new round.[14]

After some research had been abandoned into whether the M982 Excalibur guided munition could be adapted for use with the AGS, officials announced in January 2018 that there was now no plan for any replacement round for the AGS. Instead, Naval Sea Systems Command and the Chief of Naval Operations staff would "monitor new technologies" which might be used with the AGS system in the future.[10] In particular he noted that the BAE Hypervelocity Projectile testing, a cross service 127 mm (5") Naval and 155 mm land, low drag self guided Mach 7 capable round originally intended for Railguns, was achieving range close to the original LRLAP specification while having superior rate of fire and accuracy. The HVP rounds are currently estimated to cost around $25,000 for a surface-to-surface 127 mm (5") or $86,000 for an anti missile variant 155 mm round.[15]

LRLAP[edit]

The development of new ammunition for the AGS under the name Long Range Land Attack Projectile (LRLAP) was one of the major advances offered by the AGS program. The munitions were highly precise, with a circular error probable (CEP) of 50 m (160 ft) or less. Lockheed Martin conducted a flight test of the munition in July 2005, reporting a flight distance of 59 nautical miles (109 km; 68 mi). The LRLAP ammunition features separate projectile and propellant portions. Total weight is 225 pounds (102 kg), including a bursting charge of 24 lb (11 kg). The maximum length of the combined munition is 88 in (220 cm), amounting to about 14 calibers.

In 2004, the manufacturer stated that the goal for the LRLAP per-round cost was $35,000.[16] Shortly after the USS Zumwalt (DDG-1000) was commissioned, the U.S. Navy moved to cancel the LRLAP due to excessive cost. With the number of ships reduced from 32 to 3 examples, the per-unit cost of each LRLAP shot increased to $800,000–1 million. This made the system untenable even though there were no significant performance issues.[12]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b 155 mm/62 (6.1") Mark 51 Advanced Gun System (AGS), NavWeaps.com, 26 February 2017
  2. ^ "Zumwalt-Class Destroyer Saga Warrants A Rethink Of Naval Policy". The Daily Caller.
  3. ^ "Root Cause Analyses of Nunn-McCurdy Breaches -- Zumwalt-Class Destroyer, Joint Strike Fighter, Longbow Apache, and Wideband Global Satellite," Rand Corporation (2011); see Vol. 1, Ch. 3 via http://www.rand.org/pubs/monographs/MG1171z1.html
  4. ^ a b c New Warship’s Big Guns Have No Bullets - Defensenews.com, 6 November 2016
  5. ^ a b c Navy has no plan to introduce new ammo for DDG-1000 Defense News, January 11 2018
  6. ^ a b Van Dam, L. Bruce (1999-06-04). "Does the Past Have a Place in the Future? The Utility of Battleships into the Twenty-First Century" (PDF). Fort Leavenworth, Kansas: US Army Command and General Staff College., citing a letter from Major Tracy Ralphs to Senator John Warner on 1999-02-25
  7. ^ "United States of America 16"/50 (40.6 cm) Mark 7". Tony DiGiulian, navweaps.com. 2008-08-09.
  8. ^ Navy Planning on Not Buying More LRLAP Rounds for Zumwalt Class - News.USNI.org, 7 November 2016
  9. ^ "BAE Systems Delivers First Piece of Production Hardware for U.S. Navy's Advanced Gun System". BAE Systems. 2010. Retrieved 2013-02-04.
  10. ^ a b LaGrone, Sam (January 11, 2018). "No New Round Planned For Zumwalt Destroyer Gun System; Navy Monitoring Industry". USNI News. US Naval Institute. Retrieved March 2, 2018.
  11. ^ "Next-Gen Naval Gunfire Support: The USA's AGS & LRLAP". Defense Industry Daily. 23 February 2014.
  12. ^ a b Cavas, Christopher P. (2016-11-06). "New Warship's Big Guns Have No Bullets". DefenseNews.
  13. ^ Navy Planning on Not Buying More LRLAP Rounds for Zumwalt Class - News.USNI.org, 7 November 2016
  14. ^ Raytheon Excalibur Round Set to Replace LRLAP on Zumwalts - News.USNI.org, 13 December 2016
  15. ^ $86,000 + 5,600 MPH = Hyper Velocity Missile Defense Breaking Defense, January 26, 2018
  16. ^ "155 mm/62 (6.1") Mark 51 Advanced Gun System (AGS)". Navweps.

External links[edit]

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