The Navy plans to fire a high-speed, long-range rail-gun Hypervelocity Projectile from its deck-mounted 5-inch guns to destroy enemy drones, ships, incoming missiles and even submarines, service officials said.
Navy officials say the program is leveraging commercial electronics miniaturization and computational performance increases to develop a common guided projectile for use in current 5 inch guns and future high velocity gun systems. The HVP effort will seek to increase range and accuracy of the 5-Inch Gun Weapon System in support of multiple mission areas, service developers told Warrior.
Developed initially for an Electromagnetic Rail Gun next-generation weapon, The Hyper Velocity Projectile, or HVP, can travel at speeds up to 2,000 meters per second when fired from a Rail Gun, a speed which is about three times that of most existing weapons.
The rate of fire is 10-rounds per minute. Also, due to its ability to reach speeds of up to 5,600 miles per hour, the hypervelocity projectile is engineered as a kinetic energy warhead, meaning no explosives are necessary.
Development of the HVP projectile can take place apart from its use in an actual Rail Gun, as is the case with efforts to adapt it to Navy 5-inch guns.
While the precise speed, range and rate of fire for a HVP fired from Navy 5-inch guns may still be a work in progress, the use of the projectile brings the possibility of a number of unprecedented combat advantages.
Using a HVP for 5-inch guns such as an increased ability to quickly attack long range targets. The speed of the HVP could naturally give Commanders a better opportunity to make real-time, combat-relevant decisions by virtue of being able to hit targets farther away at faster speeds. The projectile could be fired for both offensive and defensive missions, attacking enemy anti-ship missiles, land targets or ships.
The HVP effort is in keeping with existing Pentagon strategy which aims to harness promising emerging technologies and integrate them with existing weapons systems; the concept is designed to take advantage of next-generation weapons technology on a faster timeframe by connecting them with existing systems, instead of waiting years for a developmental program to mature. This concept informed former Defense Secretary Ash Carter’s creation of the Strategic Capabilities Office.
In fact, the SCO is also test firing the HVP from an Army Howitzer to leverage the technical and combat advantage of the projectile in near term operational scenarios.
Every Navy Cruiser and Destroyer has, for decades, been armed with “5-inch” guns to attack land and sea targets from the deck of a ship.
In existence since the 70s, the weapon can be used to attack enemy targets or lay down suppressive fire so that maritime forces can better maneuver or reposition while in battle.
However, current 5-inch guns, called Mk 45, have a maximum effective range of up to 13 or 15 miles, and the current rounds are unguided and lack precision so many rounds need to be fired in order to ensure that targets are destroyed.
Several industry developers, such as Raytheon and BAE-Systems Leonardo are manufacturing and testing new ammunition for the Mk 45 able to more than triple its range and add precision targeting technology. Navy weapons developers tell Scout Warrior they are still analyzing various industry responses to a Request for Information on the 5-inch gun precision round technology.
The Navy plans to issue a Broad Agency Announcement soliciting a mature design concept for 5-inch guided projectile to support a test demonstration in 2018.