The U.S. Navy’s deck guns could take on new relevance if ongoing tests to fire a guided round at three times the speed of sound from their muzzles are successful, USNI News has learned.
Using rounds initially designed for the service’s emerging electromagnetic railgun, Naval Sea Systems Command are now in early testing phases of using the planned hyper velocity projectile (HVPs) with the service’s existing gunpowder-based deck guns found on almost every U.S. Navy surface ship, NAVSEA told USNI News.
The HVPs from a traditional deck gun will be slower than one launched from a railgun — a little over Mach 3 versus Mach 5 — but still more than double the speed of an unguided regular shell from the service’s Mk 45 five-inch gun found on its guided missile cruisers and destroyers, according to information from NAVSEA.
While deck guns are standard through out the fleet, they lack the range precision of the guided missiles found on cruisers and destroyers and have had shrinking utility in high-end warfare.
A high speed guided round from a deck gun could give U.S. ships more options to deal with air and ballistic missile threats while the Navy continues to refine the railgun design.
According to a service wish list for railgun applications revealed last year, the Navy wants a “multi-mission railgun weapon system to support detect, track and engagement of ballistic missiles and air and watercraft threats” by 2025.