Britain’s BAE Systems and Italy’s Leonardo have begun an initiative to collaborate on new precision-guided munitions offerings for advanced large caliber weapons systems, the companies said last week.

The companies characterized this effort as a way to offer U.S. and allied militaries with a range of low-risk, cos effective advanced munitions.

The 127mm naval gun round variant of the Vulcano gun-launched munition. Image: Leonardo.
The 127mm naval gun round variant of the Vulcano gun-launched munition. Image: Leonardo.

The companies highlighted they anticipate offering new adaptations of Leonardo’s Vulcano family of gun-launched munitions in a variety of systems including BAE’s Advanced Gun System (AGS) and the Mk 45 naval gun. The AGS is used on the U.S. Navy’s Zumwalt-class (DDG-1000) destroyers and the Mk 45 is used on Ticonderoga-class cruisers, Arleigh Burke-class destroyers and several U.S. allied navies.

BAE and Leonardo noted their current focus is only on the Vulcano.

A BAE spokesperson told Defense Daily that while the Vulcano is compatible with all of these systems, “our near-term focus is on offering an affordable solution for AGS.”

The official noted the Vulcano is in final qualification testing with the Italian Defense Ministry and “is ready to transition to production as soon it completes the qualification phase.”

Joe Senftle, vice president and general manager of Weapon Systems at BAE, made his case for the munitions cooperation.

“As a leading global provider and integrator of all major caliber weapon systems, we are expertly positioned to integrate mission-driven, advanced, and affordable munitions like Vulcano into land and naval gun systems,” he said in a statement.

The companies said the new adaptations of Vulcano will also focus on solutions for land-based 155-mm artillery systems. This includes all variants of the M777 and M109 howtizers used by the U.S. and allies.

BAE said that in testing, the 155-mm Vulcano achieved launch accelerations that support maximum engagement ranges similar to distances required for the former Long Range Land Attack projectile program.

They added the Mk 45 naval gun can potentially fire the 5-inch Vulcano at 20 pounds per minute at a maximum range of over three times greater than existing munitions.

BAE said the adaptation of the Vulcano is easier to integrate into BAE gun systems because BAE is the original equipment manufacturer of the AGS, MK 45, M777, and M109.

“On AGS in particular, Vulcano’s design makes it much more adaptable to the automated handling system,” the spokesperson said.

“The Vulcano long-range guided ammunition family – part of the Leonardo’s global offer of naval, land-based, and aeronautical weapon systems for customers worldwide – represents state-of-the-art technology with its unmatched range, accuracy, and effectiveness, which was successfully demonstrated in testing,” Gianpiero Lorandi, managing director at Leonardo Defence Systems, added in a statement.

BAE said the Vulcano family offers a greater range over existing munitions and is compatible with multiple gun systems. The system also has future options for terminal seekers to address moving targets, the spokesperson said.