Mk46 Weapon System Addresses
Navy and Marine Requirements
of the Mk46 weapon system began
in 1996 to meet a Marine Corps
requirement for a medium-caliber
gun system for its Expeditionary
Fighting Vehicle (EFV). The Navy’s
LPD 17 (San Antonio-class) amphibious assault ship program had a
similar requirement to provide ship
self defense against swarming surface threats, and engineering efforts
to “navalize” the Mk46 turret began
in 1998. The Mk46 has since been
upgraded to a Mod 2 configuration.
The Mk46 turret also is being evaluated for use on the Littoral
Combat Ship (LCS). Two turrets
have been delivered for engineering
development testing through 2009.
SCOPE: The Mk46 provides accurate engagement of targets at ranges
beyond 3,000 meters. The sighting
system provides for day, night and
all-weather operations. The gun system can be fired remotely or from the
turret, and provides a full-feature,
embedded training capability.
TIMELINE: The first San Antonio-class ship set (two turrets) was delivered in July 2005. The last (ninth
ship set) will be delivered in late
2009. The LCS Mk46 Mission
Module program began in 2006 with
two Mk46 Mod 2 systems. It has
since been extended to two additional turrets and engineering-support
services to integrate the turret into
the ship’s weapons control station.
Contract details were not disclosed.
WHO’S IN CHARGE: Bruce
Steinheiser, General Dynamics’ program manager for MK46 weapon
The Navy needed a system that was able to engage moving targets
from moving platforms at greater range, with a very high probability
of a first-round hit. The Mk46 has excellent fire-control systems and a highly lethal 30mm round. This system can engage at greater range, and with
greater hit probability, than any of the guns currently on surface ships. That’s
one of the main reasons the Navy selected this system.
The need for this capability was really highlighted by the attack on the USS
Cole. While many of the surface threats today are very low tech, such as small
boats, jet skis and the like, the Mk46 really allows a ship to engage that kind
of target before it gets into what the Navy calls the ‘keep out’ zone.
Another big reason the Navy selected the Mk46 was that since the
Marine Corps is buying EFVs in the hundreds, it was able to leverage that
for the LPD buy. Also, with the commonality between the two systems,
there’s greater savings in terms of parts and logistics support.
The LPD is a nine-ship program, and we have delivered six of the nine
turret sets. There are two turrets on each ship. They’re operational on the
first four. We’re under contract through the eighth ship, and the ninth is
still being negotiated. We expect that will be delivered by the end of 2009.
With EFV, there will be 520 vehicles that will get the turret, and
so far we’ve delivered 11 turrets to the Marine Corps.