Type 26 to get fully automated ammunition system for Mk45 gun as Type 23 is upgraded with enhanced torpedo launch systems
Royal Navy surface combatants including the Type 26 frigate and Type 23 frigates are to be the recipients of new weapons handling technology.
BAE Systems Inc has received a US$219 million contract to equip the Royal Navy’s Type 26 frigates with five Mk 45 Maritime Indirect Fire Systems (MIFS). The system combines the 5-inch, 62-calibre Mk 45 Mod 4A naval gun system with a fully automated ammunition handling system (AHS).
Speaking at the time that the contract was announced, Brent Butcher, vice president of the weapon systems product line at BAE Systems said: “We have customised the Mk 45 gun system to provide a fully automatic ammunition handling solution.
“The customised, lightweight and compact Mk 45 gun system with AHS will provides our customers commonality with the US Navy and a highly reliable system with security of lifecycle support, and access to future technology upgrades.”
The Type 26 frigates – the first of which is due to be delivered to the Royal Navy in the mid-2020s – will be one of the world’s most advanced warships, with the primary role of anti-submarine warfare. In addition to its range of advanced weapons and sensors, it will also be capable of countering piracy, delivering humanitarian aid and disaster relief.
As part of the ships’ capabilities, the automated naval gun solution will help the Royal Navy increase crew productivity, enhance crew safety and improve the operational capability of the warships as they deliver protection to the Royal Navy’s continuous at-sea deterrent and carrier strike group.
Engineering and programme support for the contract will be provided by BAE Systems’ Minneapolis and Louisville, Kentucky production facilities. BAE Systems shipped the main equipment for the first MIFS system at the end of 2022 with installation to follow later in 2023.
Weapon systems on board the Royal Navy’s Type 23 frigates will be also upgraded in a £34 million (US$42.5 million) contract awarded by the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD). During the next five years, Royal Navy ships will undergo a series of technical upgrades to their magazine torpedo launch systems and threat countermeasure capabilities, the latter of which will help ensure the ships continue to counter the threat of hostile anti-ship missiles.
A contract awarded to Systems Engineering & Assessment (SEA) in the UK will see the company develop upgrades that upgrades can be seamlessly adopted and installed until their out-of-service dates.
The Type 23 frigates will have electronic upgrades to Seagnat, a system which safeguards the vessel against incoming missiles by firing a variety of decoys to defeat incoming missiles. Some ships will also undergo a further technical upgrade to their magazine torpedo launch systems – a close-range, quick-reaction anti-submarine weapon system which launches torpedoes from tubes mounted in the vessel’s magazine.
The contract was placed by the Maritime Equipment and Warfare (MEWT) team at Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S), the procurement arm of the UK MoD.
In addition to Type 23 updates, the contract will also upgrade Seagnat systems during the next five years on Type 45 destroyers and Royal Fleet Auxiliary tankers.
In a statement, SEA said: “As primary supplier to the UK MoD, SEA will upgrade the Royal Navy’s torpedo launcher systems to provide next generation capability. This will see the Royal Navy further benefit from SEA’s weapon-agnostic torpedo launcher system, which is also in service with a number of navies across the globe.
“As part of this contract, and as the legacy design authority for the countermeasures technical refresh, SEA will upgrade the ships’ countermeasure capability with a new fixed barrel system to provide an effective response to modern naval threats.”
The contract will also see SEA provide in-service support for these systems across the UK naval fleet. Initially, this is a five-year programme, with extension options, and is in addition to a significant support framework contract previously awarded to the company by the UK MoD, covering sub-systems in the undersea battlespace domain.
SEA also recently signed a memorandum of understanding with Danish equipment provider SH Defence to explore the development of advanced modular solutions for future naval platform designs and retrofit projects.
The partnership will be focused on incorporating SEA’s innovative technology, including its agile anti-submarine warfare system, KraitSense, and torpedo launcher systems into The Cube, an innovative modular system designed by SH Defence for hosting and deploying specialised equipment on naval platforms.
The Cube System is a plug-and-play mission module for air, surface, and subsea domains, operated from a Cube-Ready platform. The system provides infrastructure to handle and move mission modules on deck or replace existing modules in the mission bay. It gives platforms multi-mission capability while also allowing more effective use of limited platform numbers. Retrofit or upgrades of existing platforms can also significantly extend fleet capability.