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Navy test-fires low-cost, hypersonic-speed projectiles

The Navy said it test-fired 20 high-velocity projectiles from the USS Dewey's standard Mk45 main deck gun during an exercise last summer.

By
Ed Adamczyk
The U.S. Navy confirmed the success of the destroyer USS Dewey in firing projectiles at hypersonic speed through its existing main deck gun during summer exercises in the Pacific Ocean. Photo courtesy of MCS Daniel Burke/U.S. Navy/UPI
The U.S. Navy confirmed the success of the destroyer USS Dewey in firing projectiles at hypersonic speed through its existing main deck gun during summer exercises in the Pacific Ocean. Photo courtesy of MCS Daniel Burke/U.S. Navy/UPI

Jan. 9 (UPI) -- The U.S. Navy test-fired high-velocity projectiles using existing guns aboard a destroyer during an exercise last summer.

Twenty projectiles were successfully fired at near-hypersonic speed from the USS Dewey's standard Mk 45, five-inch main deck gun during the "Rim of the Pacific" exercises off Hawaii, the USNI News reported.

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It was an attempt to learn if the 40-year-old gun's utility could include a high-tech, low-cost weapon against cruise missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles.

In October, the Congressional Research Service said in a report that the new weapon, called an HPV or hypervelocity projectile, was designed for a railgun, a device using electromagnetic force to launch projectiles by means of a sliding armature.

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Shot from the deck gun, the payload can travel as fast as Mach 7.4, or over 2,400 mph at sea level. The system is under consideration, as is a laser guided system and the railgun approach.

"Any one of these three new weapons, if successfully developed and deployed, might be regarded as a 'game changer' for defending Navy surface ships," the CRS said. "If two or three of them are successfully developed and deployed, the result might be considered not just a game changer, but a revolution."

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The "gun-launched guided projectile," as the Navy has renamed the system tested at the summer exercises, can be fired using existing and aging guns found on many vessels -- making it considerably less expensive than the other systems under examination.

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Defensive missiles cost $800,000 to a few million dollars each, and would have to be used in great number to counter incoming salvos of enemy missiles. The gun-fired guided projectiles, however, cost about $85,000 each, the CRS said.

BAE Systems, developers of the HPV, said it can be used by existing Navy, Marine Corps and Army guns.

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