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  • BAE Systems Proposes Upgunned Burke
    Posted by Bill Sweetman 11:07 AM on Apr 11, 2011

    BAE Systems is using the Navy League Sea-Air-Space show this week to unveil a new proposal for the DDG-51 Arleigh Burke-class destroyers:  Advanced Gun System - Lite, a downsized version of the gun turret that the company has been developing for the DDG-1000 Zumwalt destroyer.

    The AGS-Lite uses the same gun as the full-size AGS and the same rocket-boosted, 155-mm caliber Long Range Land Attack Projectile (developed by Lockheed Martin), so it has the same 74 nm design range. This is the critical improvement over the Mk45 5-inch (127 mm) gun now fitted to Navy surface combatants, which has a 13-mile range. AGS and LRLAP were designed to provide fire support to forces on land.

    On AGS-Lite, BAE Systems plans to reduce the number of ready and total LRLAP rounds, simplify the feed and eject system (accepting a lower rate of fire of six versus ten rounds per minute) and eliminate the stealth features of the turret, reducing weight from 100 metric tons to 51 tons (just under twice the weight of the Mk45 installation). The company also proposes to develop a simpler anti-surface-warfare round.

    This is one of a number of developments that reflects the fact that as far as the US Navy is concerned, DDG-51 derivatives will dominate the surface combatant program into the foreseeable future. The result is that companies are trying to move their new technologies into future DDG-51s, particularly the evolving Flight III ships. Other new features being proposed include hybrid drive systems, to improve efficiency and provide energy for the new Air & Missile Defense Radar (AMDR).

    AGS-Lite has advantages for the Navy, in that it helps close the gap in naval surface fire support capability that yawned open when the decision was taken to cap the Zumwalt line at three (very expensive) ships. It could also relieve the industrial and logistics challenges of having a total of six AGS in the fleet, firing a unique round. The downside, however, is that Flight III could morph into a virtually new ship with all its extra features -- with attendant increases in cost and risk.

    Tags: ar99, navy league, bae, ddg-51

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