First Piece of Navy’s Advanced Gun System (AGS) delivered

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From the press release …

BAE Systems, along with partner General Dynamics Armament and Technical Products, delivered to the U.S. Navy the first automated magazine for the 155-mm Advanced Gun System (AGS) being developed for the DDG 1000 (Zumwalt) Destroyer Program.

The magazine is the first major production component to be delivered under the AGS program. It is one of a total of four magazines that will be built under a Navy contract to produce four AGS weapon systems for the Navy’s first two Zumwalt class destroyers.

AGS is a long-range precision gun system designed to meet Navy surface fire support requirements. The 155-mm AGS magazine gives the AGS a fully automated ammunition handling system that eliminates the need for Sailors to handle the ammunition — a first for U.S. Navy large caliber gun systems. The magazine acts like an automated logistics center below deck by organizing and processing up to 38 pallets that each weigh 6,000-pounds and hold eight 230-pound, precision-guided Long-Range Land Attack Projectiles (LRLAP) and eight propelling charges. These LRLAPs can be fed into the AGS at rates of up to 10 rounds per minute to provide unmatched, sustained long-range precision fire support to Navy and Marine expeditionary forces.

AGS prototype being tested

[ Many thanks to Mik for emailing me the link. ]

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Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.



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  • Bill Lester

    This gun and the destroyer it will be found on are a disgraceful waste of taxpayer funds.

  • Kevin Delaney

    My guess is youve never had to handle the ammunition on a battle ship… one word ..Dangerous.

  • clamp

    As a former grunt I find this very sexy.

  • Jim

    10 rounds per minute?! That’s one shot every 6 seconds! Holy God that’s fast!

  • http://emptormaven.com Federalist

    If they’re building a ship-mounted long-range gun why use a 155mm barrel like the land-units already have? Why aren’t they stepping up to 8 or 10-inch guns? (You can always sabot a 155mm round if you want common munitions.)

  • Bill Lester

    Kevin,

    I’ve never handled ammunition on any ship, let alone a “battleship,” but I do know military history. How many turret accidents has the USN experienced where ammo handling was to blame? Damn few, even in the fury of sustained combat as in WWII. The danger to gun crews is no greater than handling any other ordnance, probably less so than some types. If ammo safety is the best defense for this boondoggle can muster, it definitely isn’t worth the ~$500 million in development this gun system is costing taxpayers.

  • XC

    @BillLester – Bite everyone in America!

  • XC

    Actually, Bill, I just read the rest of your silly post. There were numerous examples of handling issues. The one closest to mind is the many deaths enjoyed during Halsey’s Typhoon. The second closest to mind would be the slight oops enjoyed during the invasion of Luzon when someone (*cough*) missed a large part of the Japanese fleet coming ’round the bottom.

    Dolt.

    -XC

  • Kevin Delaney

    Bottom line is that techology is great. I know I hated the training that came with the guns on the USS Normandy CG-60. The ammo was very heavy! Especially for a 19+ year old who didnt know, or care about the danger of what he was handling. Protecting our country, as far as im conserned doesnt have a price tag. If we can blast out enemys out of the water faster then im all for it.

  • dg

    Its sole purpose will be against the “swarm” of small PT boats that countries like Iran employ. Get some airburst 155mm and you have a pt boat killer. I would love to see that sucker light em up though…….

  • Bill Lester

    XC,

    I only have a few moments before heading to work but wanted to ask what you’re smoking? Absolutely nothing you said has any relevance to my comments. Who’s the dolt now?

  • Clodboy

    This is just about the last topic that I’d expect to see a flamewar over…

    Seriously, in an age on radar-guided missiles, laser-guided bombs, Predator drones, CIWS, sophisticated auto pilot systems and shotgun-wielding “Johnny-5-esque” robots, why does it seem so outlandish that the act of loading a piece of artillery could be handled just as or even more efficiently by an automated system?

  • Bayonetben

    As of former USN Gunner’s Mate (and current USA Field Artilleryman) I can tell you that manual ammunition handling accidents generally involve lower back (improper lifting/lifting too much, to often) and foot injuries (dropping of munitions) and not explosions. The 10 RPM rate of fire is half of what an Mk 45 mount and one/quarter of what a Mk 42 system could produce (the 5″ systems of “my day”)…while not overly impressive, I guess not too bad for a 6″+ system. Ammo compatability (with USA, USMC, NATO ground forces) is a good thing…I don’t know about the SABOT idea. I’d like to know why Mr. Bill Lester thinks that the gun/ship are a waste of money…perhaps he’s on to something.

  • Bill Lester

    Okay, the day’s work is done.

    So XC, what EXACTLY are you talking about? What does ammunition handling have to do with either the typhoons of December 1944? The three destroyers lost were due to capsizing or flooding of their engines leaving them to their fate. NOTHING to do with ammunition. As for the battle of Leyte Gulf, which of our ships experienced a turret explosion due to any reason let alone mishandling of ordnance? It’s an easy answer – NONE.

    Next time try to stay on-topic, okay? ;)

  • Bill Lester

    Federalist,

    The Navy did experiment with a new 8″ gun aboard USS Hull in the 1970′s. I don’t recall why the weapon wasn’t adopted further and was eventually removed during a later refit.

    Fast forward to today and there really isn’t a need or much desire for a gun bigger than 5″/127mm. The surface fleet is working towards guided projectiles just like Army artillery and its Excalibur shell. Massive shell weight isn’t needed nor desirable from a collateral damage standpoint. (The same is going on with the USAF and their GBU-39 SDB (Small Diameter Bomb). When looking at performance against other ships, again the current 5″ gun is plenty. Warships of today have little to no passive defense. The days of needing armor penetration are long over. (Excluding our carriers. Their protection is pretty well kept under wraps.)

    dg,

    The 5″ Mk. 45 mount found throughout the fleet would wreak havoc on any Iranian or North Korean “boghammer” foolish enough to try an attack. The ready load of 20 rounds can be fired in about a minute. After that you’d need a crew to reload. Kevin can say how long that generally takes. And don’t forget a surface ship’s 5″ battery isn’t all it can use against swarm attacks. Fifty cal. M2′s and 25mm Bushmasters are common aboard ship. The ESSM surface-to-air missile can also be used against surface threats.

  • Bill Lester

    Bayonetben,

    I think the AGS and Zumwalt-class DD’s are far too expensive for what they offer the fleet. The AGS’ development price tag is something like half a billion dollars. I’m not sure if that includes service ready mounts or not. They may be extra. But when we’re talking about a total of six barrels (2 weapons aboard each of the 3 Zumwalts), I think the taxpayer is getting ripped-off. Especially when rocket-assisted, guided rounds are under development for the current 5″/54 and 5″/62 mounts used aboard the Burke-class DD’s. The later mount has already demonstrated a range in excess of 20 nm with the latest non-RA ammunition. Adding RA will at least double that. Imagine sniping individual tanks, artillery pieces or bunkers at a range greater than the best battleship could ever hope to lay down an inaccurate barrage. All with proven guns the Navy already deploys.

    As for the Zumwalts themselves, what do we really get for their $3.3+ billion for each compared to the Burkes already in the fleet? We get much smaller crews. That’s great for peacetime budgets but not necessarily a good thing when the missiles and torpedoes start flying in both directions. Fewer sailors mean fewer hands performing damage control. Could our desire to reduce costs in manpower cost the lives of an entire crew and their ship when under serious fire? No way to know until it happens. I think that’s an awfully expensive gamble both in personnel and warfighting assets.

    How about firepower? The Zumwalts will have 20 VLS (vertical launch cells) cells holding 80 assorted missiles. The Burkes have 90 VLS cells holding one missile per cell. So the Zumwalts are at a net loss in missile power. What makes matters worse is that the Zumwalts won’t carry the long-range “Standard” family of surface-to-air missiles like the Burkes do right now. The Zumwalts will be limited to the ESSM SAM, a decent anti-aircraft weapon but one with much shorter range than the Standard family and absolutely no capability against ballistic missiles or satellites. Radar stealthiness built into the Zumwalts better work well.

    The Zumwalts will have two of the 155mm AGS’s vs. a single 5″/127mm mount on the Burkes. That’s good for NGS (naval gunfire support) but as noted above, it comes at a very serious price for an unproven weapon system. The existing 5″ mounts will do well enough, especially with advanced ammunition. It’s not like we’re going to redo Omaha Beach with tens of thousands of troops.

    The Zumwalts will carry one helicopter and three UAV’s. The first half or so of the Burkes only have a helo landing pad but no hanger. The remainder have a hanger capable of handling two helicopters. So call it about even for at least half the Burkes already in-service.

    Not much of a deal at $3.3+ billion per ship.

  • Bayonetben

    Mr. Lester,
    So sorry for the tardy reply…I just checked this today and found your answer to my question. I’m an Army-guy now, and no longer connected to the Navy, or that familiar with their plans for the fleet. So I’m not “smart” on this new class of ship…however, you do articulate your argumant well. I wish perhaps that you would’ve been more clear earlier…perhaps you wouldn’t have attracted any negative replies.

    When I attended the Gunner’s Mate School (Great Lakes, Il) in’79, I was told that the 8″ gun mount tested on the DD actually “cracked the hull”…indicating that the 8″ recoil was too great for small destroyers. This may be BS…but it is what we were told. I understand that the whole 8″ concept was dropped shortly after. The pictures that we were shown were very interesting…the system looked like a great big Mk 45.

    Also, despite what Mr. Delaney and “XC” mentioned, I’ve not heard of any ammo handling mishaps (explosive in nature)…this is due to the nature (safety features) of our fuzes. The mishaps that we learned about at the GM School were largely due to weapon (breach) malfunctions or fire/spark incidents. Lastly, the automated loading systems (especially in the Mk 45 (and later) systems) really limit the amount of ammo handling that occur (except perhaps in the magazine) while firing the weapon.

    Bayonetben

  • Kevin Delaney

    I get so tired of misinformation being touted around on blogs. The Arleigh Burke Class destroyer can carry 56 Raytheon Tomahawk cruise missiles, with a combination of land-attack (TLAM) missiles with a Tercom aided navigation system, and anti-ship missiles with inertial guidance. There ARE NOT 90 VLS tubes. VLS stands for Vertical Launch System. I was stationed on an Aegis Cruiser (USS Normandy CG-60) and only had capability of carrying 16 Missiles in the 2 VLS on board.

    Either way i still think the the better armed we are the better off we are. 500 million is noting compared to the amount of money we spend on other pet projects.

  • bayonetben

    Mr. Delaney,
    Thanks for clarifying any possible VLS capabilities issues from other comments. As a former GM, I beleive that I can contribute a fair amount to ammunition and naval gun system discussions…however, most of my Navy/GM knowledge and experience is VERY dated now. That’s why I like hearing what you and Mr. Lester have to say.

    But I must say that if you’re trying to strengthen your argument in favor of the high price of the Zumwalt Class DDs by comparing them to the cost of other government big-dollar boondoggles…it’s a weak approach.

    Trust me, I’m all great weapon systems…but even as a (current) Field Artillery guy I was happy when the Army scrapped the Crusader project. In the end the system was cancelled since it appeared to have grown way too big, heavy, and expensive. I want the fire power…but with a rational price tag.

    Just my opinion.

  • TimothyC

    Kevin,
    I find your figure of only 32 Tomahawks on a Baseline 2-3 Ticonderoga quite odd. That may have been the number that you deployed with, the Each cell on a Mk-41 Strike Length VLS is capable of carrying an RGM-109 Tomahawk. The Baseline 2+ Ticonderogas had at least 122 cells (2*61, and later 128 after the removal of the strikedown cranes both for and aft), while the Burke class carries 96 VLS cells (one 32 cell pack forward, and one 64 cell pack aft).

    Bill,
    It is my understanding that the Zumwalt class, using a different VLS system from those in current operation carries 80 cells, in four 20 cell packs, located around the periphery of the hull.

  • Kevin Delaney

    I stand corrected. I could have sworn that there were 4 rows of 4. After searching for pics of the ships VLS there was alot more than that! i guess it has been a while since being on that boat. Thanks for the correction!

  • navarch

    The advanced gun is not really a gun. It’s a smooth bore rocket launcher The projectile is quickly boosted to an altitude of 100,000 ft, then glides back to earth. It has small fins which control the trajectory during the glidepath. GPS with an INS backup. Up to six rounds can be programmed to hit the same target simultaneously. The Marines like this. Their goal is “Warheads on Foreheads.”

    In Jan of this year the AGS projectile was successfully tested at a range of 63 nautical miles (83 miles is the goal). Missed the target by 3.7 meters. (Probably a lucky shot!) 24 lbs of HE in the warhead. Standard 5-inch projectile is 7 lbs.

    Its not designed to hit surface ships. Time of flight is too long. Zumwalt has a pair of 57-mm guns for that.

  • H.Tucker

    Well here it goes. Probably get blown up like that mortar round did to me. But what the heck.
    First off I am retired with 26 years starting in 1979 as a gunners mate, first on an LST then as the second gunner assigned to the USS Ticonderoga CG 47 running mount 51. So lets go down a list. Weapons/ammo handling accidents, Port Chicago (NWS Concord) WW II ammo transsexual from rail cars. Dropped five inch round. Pearl Harbor West Loch. LST’s being loaded for Saipan invasion. Resulting explosion destroyed five and damaged several others. Cause was never truely found but one was a dropped mortor round or smoking. Most Gunners Mates will tell you that smoking around stable ammunition will not ignite it if in an open space, such as the bow ramp. Next USS Forrestal. Off of Vietnam. Remember trial by fire? A Zuni rocket loaded on on plane fired into another across the deck. Ensuing fire killed and injured many substantial damage to planes, ship and equipment. The last that I know of is the USS Oriskany another carrier off of Vietnam same time period. An airman is handling parachute flares when he catches the lanyard on the h