US Navy Warships will Fire Mach 6 Hypervelocity Projectiles at Chinese and Russian Warships

Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor

Washington, DC, United States (4E) – The U.S. Navy is advancing a plan first broached a year ago to fire hypersonic projectiles (HVPs) from the 5 inch deck guns that arm most of its destroyers and cruisers.

HVPs will increase range and accuracy of the 5 inch guns in support of multiple missions such as shooting down enemy aerial drones and incoming missiles and sinking enemy warships and submarines.

Development of this capability falls under the Navy’s Future Naval Capability (FNC) program, a science and technology program launched in 2002 designed to develop and transition cutting-edge technologies to acquisition program managers within a five-year time frame.

First developed for the Electromagnetic Railgun (ER), HVPs can travel at speeds of up to Mach 6 (7,400 km/h). Rate of fire is 10 rounds per minute.

An HVP is engineered as a kinetic energy warhead, meaning it carries no explosives and relies on the massive impact caused by its incredible speed to destroy a target.

Studies by the Department of Defense have revealed that HVPs fired from 5 inch (127 mm) Mk-45 guns aboard U.S. Navy warships such as the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers and the 155 mm guns aboard the Zumwalt-class destroyers can neutralize anti-ship missile (ASM) salvoes that will be the chosen mode of attack by China and Russia against Navy warships, especially aircraft carriers, in any future conflict.

DoD noted that “if we can close the fire support with a controlled solution,” HVPs will be able to shoot down most of the anti-ship missiles in a 100 ASM attack.

When fired from conventional 5 inch guns, HVPs achieve a speed of Mach 3 (3,700 km/h), half the speed it achieves when fired from a railgun, but more than twice the speed of a conventional high-explosive round.

HVP’s low drag aerodynamic design enables high-velocity, maneuverability and decreased time-to-target. The high-velocity compact design relieves the need for a rocket motor to extend gun range.

HVP is being designed to provide lethality and performance enhancements to current and future gun systems.

In 2015, Naval Sea Systems Command said it was interested in taking the HVP being developed for the railgun and using it as ammunition for the Mk-45 deck guns on the Navy’s Ticonderoga-class guided missiles cruisers and Arleigh Burke-class destroyers.

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