By Carlo Munoz
Program officials at BAE Systems are looking to shrink down the company’s naval gun system designed for the Navy’s Zumwalt-class destroyer (DDG-1000) and install the smaller version of the weapon system on board the sea service’s Arleigh Burke-class warships (DDG-51).
The Advanced Gun System-Lite (AGS-Lite) will trim 50 percent of the upper gun weight from original AGS and maintain the same 74 nautical-mile range as its larger counterpart on the DDG-100, while firing the same 155mm round, according to John Perry, manager of business development for advanced systems.
A smaller magazine capacity and slower rate of fire are the only real tradeoffs between the AGS-Lite and the larger AGS, Perry said in an April 7 briefing in Arlington, Va. The range of fire provided by both AGS systems dwarfs the 13 nautical mile range of the legacy Mk45 deck gun on the DDG-51 ships, he said.
With a 74 nautical mile range, the new deck gun could provide vital ship- to-shore fire support and supplement the Navy’s Tomahawk cruise missile operations.
Currently, program officials have only tested the Long-Range Land Attack Projectile (LRLAP) — which will be fired out of the AGS and AGS-Lite — up to 60 nautical miles, but are well on track to hit the 74 nautical mile threshold, according to Perry.
The AGS-Lite system also features an automated loading system below deck, which replaces the six-man team normally required to load the Mk45 gun, according to the BAE official.
While no program of record has been established for the AGS-Lite by the Navy, Perry noted that the Navy’s stated requirements for precision fire support, coupled with its decision to truncate the number of DDG-1000s in the fleet, emphasized the need for the AGS-Lite.
The initial AGS was expected to be the main deck gun for the Navy’s future fleet of Zumwalt-class destroyers. But after serious cost overruns, the sea service opted to cut its DDG-1000 buy to three ships and fill the remainder of that destroyer requirement with more Arleigh-Burke class boats.
With that decision, it was clear “a case could be made” that the current Mk 45 deck gun on board the DDG-51s could be replaced with a more advanced version, according to Perry.
With millions already invested into the AGS for the DDG-1000, it made sense to simply leverage the lessons learned from the research, development and design work for that system, and move that into the Mk 45 replacement.
BAE officials have already completed a successful ship integration study of the new deck gun for the DDG-51, Perry said. The results of that study showed the system to be compatible with the legacy destroyer, in terms of power load requirements, deck profile and below deck space, he said.
That said, company officials are on pace to complete final system design and development in the near future, Perry added.