The aircraft carrier USS George Washington conducts a live-fire exercise of its Phalanx Close-In Weapon System (CIWS)
June 29 in the Pacific Ocean. Though developed as a last-ditch defense against sea-skimming missiles, CIWS has been
improved to make it an effective defense against attack helicopters and high-speed surface threats.
The short range of the 5-inch guns has been aggravated by concerns over land-based anti-ship missiles,
which could force warships to stay too far off shore for
those guns to be effective.
A partial response was to be the Zumwalt-class DDG
1000, which was designated a “land-attack destroyer.”
But because of escalating costs and changing priorities
by the Navy, the program was truncated at three ships.
The key feature of the DDG 1000 is the Advanced
Gun System (AGS), a 155mm — or 6-inch — gun able
to provide precision fire at extended range.
One NAVSEA official said in an interview that the
AGS, being developed by BAE, is “a single mission
system, currently designed only to support naval fire-
But a BAE statement said the AGS “will provide flex-
ible, sustainable and affordable firepower against a wide
range of littoral and inland targets, as well as highly-
advanced gunfire capabilities for anti-surface warfare.”
The gun is fully automated and capable of a maxi-
mum sustained firing rate of 10 rounds per minute.
BAE said the first two AGS systems have been delivered to Bath Iron Works, Maine, where the first DDG
1000 is under construction.
The key to AGS’ capability, however, is the Long Range
Land Attack Projectile (LRLAP), which BAE is developing. It is a rocket-boosted round with a Global Positioning
System guidance system that is expected to have an accuracy of a few meters. The requirement is for a range of 63
nautical miles, but BAE has a goal of 76 nautical miles.
Boosted LRLAP rounds have been tested extensively, but have not had a guided flight. A critical design
review is expected this year, BAE officials said during
interviews at the Surface Navy Association Symposium
Because the AGS will be limited to six guns on three
DDG 1000s, BAE and Lockheed Martin have teamed
up to develop a LRLAP projectile that could be used in
all of the existing Mk45 5-inch guns.
A BAE representative said the 5-inch LRLAP is a
“purely internally funded” effort, with no current established Navy program. But NAVSEA is watching the effort
closely and could make it a program of record if the technology is proven.
The BAE representative said ballistic tests and rocket
motor ground tests last year “proved out the basic airframe” for the 5-inch LRLAP and the company expects
the first full flight in the second quarter of this year. ■