Last summer USS Dewey (DDG-105) fired 20 hyper velocity projectiles (HVP) from a standard Mk 45 5-inch deck gun in a quiet experiment that’s set to add new utility to the weapon found on almost every U.S. warship … (1)
Oh, now I see. The HVP is “set to add new utility”. That’s good. We can always use new utility. What the hell is new utility?
Here’s a bit more specific claim,
… the Navy could turn the more than 40-year-old deck gun design into an effective and low-cost weapon against cruise missiles and larger unmanned aerial vehicles. (1)
I fail to see how a faster projectile is going to transform the AAW-ineffective 5” gun into an effective AAW gun. It’s still the same 12-15 round per minute rate of fire that’s considered too slow to deal with modern missiles. It’s still the same train and elevation rates which are considered too slow to deal with modern missiles. It’s still the same fire control system that is not considered capable of air-to-air gun engagements.
BAE Systems claims all kinds of amazing performance including 40-50 mile range, guidance, 20 rds/min from a 5” gun, high maneuverability, and low cost.(2) As with any industry touted system, cut the performance in half and double the cost you’ll be somewhere in the real neighborhood.
You’ll recall that one of the original selling points of the rail gun was that it would fire inert, essentially free, projectiles … lumps of metal. Well the 5” HVP isn’t going to be free.
… a hyper velocity projectile – even in the highest-end estimates have it in the $75,000 to $100,000 range, and that’s for the fanciest version of it with an onboard seeker. (1)
As you know, these kinds of estimates always wind up being understated so figure on doubling that cost. That’s no longer a cheap projectile. Yes, it’s cheap compared to a $1M-$2M missile but when you’re firing HVPs at 12-15 rds/min the cost quickly adds up. At $100,000 per projectile (to use the likely optimistic number cost), firing for one minute will cost $1.2M-$1.5M. Where’s the cost savings? Unless the HVP transforms the 5” gun from a 0%, non-AAW-capable gun to something like a 90%, can’t miss weapon, there won’t be any cost savings.
Related thought: If the HVP is all it takes to turn the 5” gun into a marvel of AAW weaponry, then why are we still wasting money on Standard missiles, ESSM, and RAM/SeaRAM? But, I digress …
Here’s another suggested use,
HVPs could also find a home aboard the Navy’s Zumwalt-class destroyers as a replacement round for the classes 155mm Advanced Gun System. (1)
The Zumwalt’s 155mm Advanced Gun System (AGS) was intended to be a precision guided, land attack weapon with 70-100 mile range. How is the HVP going to replicate that performance to be a viable replacement for the cancelled LRLAP? It could, perhaps, someday, become a second rate, poor man’s replacement but it can’t match the LRLAP specs. To be fair, the LRLAP couldn’t match the LRLAP’s specs!
What would the cost of a very limited production quantity, one-of-a-kind, AGS-HVP munition be, do you think? We’re looking at half a million dollars or more, quite likely!
(1)USNI News website, “Navy Quietly Fires 20 Hyper Velocity Projectiles Through Destroyer’s Deckgun”, Sam LaGrone, 8-Jan-2019,https://news.usni.org/2019/01/08/navy-quietly-fires-20-hyper-velocity-projectiles-destroyers-deckgun
(2)BAE Systems website, retrieved 8-Jan-2019,https://www.baesystems.com/en-us/product/hyper-velocity-projectile-hvp