Navy Quietly Fires 20 Hyper Velocity Projectiles Through Destroyer’s Deckgun

| January 9, 2019

uss dewey ddg 105
USS Dewey DDG 105

By: Sam LaGrone

Recall our discussion about the Navy’s Rail Gun, and the potential it has, but the reality is it’s not mature enough a system to be fielded? Yet. Until it is ready for Prime Time, the Navy is testing hypervelocity projectiles (HVP) using the ubiquitous 5 inch naval gun. While no match, round for round, with the Rail Gun, the HVP is a revolutionary change in powder weapons.There also is a 155mm under consideration for our Marines and the Nautically Challenged Branch.

5 in 155 mm hvpA range of hyper velocity projectiles from different weapon systems. BAE Systems Image

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, officials familiar with the test have told USNI News.

The test, conducted by the Navy and the Pentagon’s Strategic Capabilities Office as part of the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2018 international exercise, was part of a series of studies to prove 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.

While the HVP was originally designed to be the projectile for the electromagnetic railgun, the Navy and the Pentagon see the potential for a new missile defense weapon that can launch a guided round at near-hypersonic speeds.

Currently, the fleet uses a combination of missiles – like the Evolved Seasparrow Missile, the Rolling Airframe Missile and the Standard Missile 2 – to ward off cruise missile threats. The missiles are effective but also expensive, Bryan Clark with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments told USNI News on Monday.

In 2016, guided-missile destroyer USS Mason (DDG-87) fired three missiles to ward off two suspected Iranian cruise missiles fired from Houthi rebels in the Red Sea, in what amounted to a multi-million dollar engagement.

“So if you think about the kinds of threats you might face in the Middle East, the lower-end cruise missiles or a larger UAV, now you have a way to shoot them down that doesn’t require you use a $2 million ESSM or $1 million RAM because 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,” he said.

An added benefit of using HVP in powder guns is the gun’s high rate of fire and a large magazine capacity.

“You can get 15 rounds a minute for an air defense mission as well as a surface-to-surface mission,” Clark said. “That adds significant missile defense capacity when you think that each of those might be replacing a ESSM or a RAM missile. They’re a lot less expensive.”

Read the rest of the article here: USNI

Also, USNI reports that while officials confirmed that the RIMPAC test was unclassified, both the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Office of Naval Research would neither confirm nor deny if the the testing was conducted. Nothing to see here citizen. Move along.

Category: Navy

Comments (53)

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  1. 5th/77th FA says:


    Best thing about the Navy is the big guns. Did you post this ‘Ed just to tease me and the other big gunz nutz out here? Next thing you’ll be doing is bragging about the cot and 4 hots. Tanks. Be nice to see an up close demo of said rounds. Nice way to bring the damn damn down on the bad guys. Or would that be up on them?

    • Mason says:

      So you’re saying it’s not weird that I think this is an adequate replacement for Viagra? Whew.

    • timactual says:

      *sigh* Boundaries, my boy, boundaries.

    • The Other Whitey says:

      The logical next step is a 16-inch HVP! And ships packing the guns to fire them.

      • AW1Ed says:

        uss new jersey

        • IDC SARC says:

          I never saw the Jersey let loose with a broadside blast like that, but I’ve seen her fire at sea and onshore.

          The sound of Freedom 🙂

          • IDC SARC says:

            Addendum: I was ashore of course, the New Jersey wasn’t. lol

          • AW1Ed says:

            Pretty sure that’s a Hollywood shot- all fire and fury but no rounds downrange. The camera aircraft is just too perfectly placed for the pic.

            Still fookin’ impressive.

            • IDC SARC says:

              all the lookey-loos on the fo’c’ sle supports your assertion. 🙂

              • The Other Whitey says:

                I’ve been told that it’s rather unpleasant, possibly unhealthy, to be topside when the big guns of an Iowa or comparable island of asskicking let loose.

                • AW1Ed says:

                  It’s even more *cough* unhealthy to be on the weather decks during a missile shoot.

                • J.R. Johnson says:

                  I have seen pictures (from above) of an Iowa Class firing all guns, and there are ripples all around. Someone told me it moves the whole ship 10 feet (in an equal and opposite reaction) so anatomy lessons would agree with you The Other Whitey that the force necessary to push 45,000 tons 10 feet would be harmful to humans!

              • OAE CPO USN Ret says:

                Holy attention to details Batman!

                All the times that I’ve looked at that photo and I’ve never noticed the guys on the focsle.

        • The Other Whitey says:

          GET SOME!!!

          Why don’t we have these anymore?

          • IDC SARC says:

            The explosion on the Iowa, the style of open breech loading, age, maintenance, upkeep, excessive masculinity of a gun capable of firing a 2000lb conventional or nuclear shell over 25 miles with precision, etc.

            fukken pussies

    • Thunderstixx says:

      The Navy has always had the best toys…
      Air force is pretty cool and the Army has some nice stuff too. But for the big buck big caliber KA-WHAM stuff, you gotta have the Navy.
      They should keep an Iowa Class Battleship active just to show up on some fucks shore and remind him that we can flatten his ass and sink every toy boat he has !!!
      I wish I could have seen a 16″ Deck Gun fire. The biggest I ever saw was the 155mm Artillery in Alaska. That sucker was great, I can only guess how cool the 16″‘ers were !!!

      • 5th/77th FA says:

        Yeah Baaaaaby, hell to the yes. They shoulda kept at least 2 of the Iowa Class Battleships, one for each ocean, you know….just because. Yeah the were outdated(?) and yeah one of the gun turrents had a FUBAR and killed some sailors awhile back, but still, they were badass. And they could have been up graded like everything else has been. Look how old some of the BUFFs are that are flying.

        Some of the Old Tars here would know more about it and testify. I fired a 175mm one time in training and it was woody city. From what I understand when an Iowa Class fired a battery of tubes, it would push the whole dang ship to the side. Have seen a video but hell, imagine being right there at it. Be still my beating heart.

  2. Jus Bill says:

    So 15 rounds x $100,000 = $1,500,000 for each minute of “spray and pray.” Still cheaper than ESSM or a RAM missiles for an engagement, in Pentagon logic.

    And then we load up how many per ship? This could add up to some real money for BAE.

    • AW1Ed says:

      “So if you think about the kinds of threats you might face in the Middle East, the lower-end cruise missiles or a larger UAV, now you have a way to shoot them down that doesn’t require you use a $2 million ESSM or $1 million RAM because 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,” he said.

      One shot one kill.

      • Hondo says:

        One shot one kill.

        You really want to bet a ship on that claim being correct every time? We didn’t even buy that with nukes during the Cold War (most if not all important targets were targeted with multiple weapons in case either the delivery system or warhead failed).

        I’m guessing a minimum of 2 or 3 will be fired each time they’re used – “just to be sure”. And I wouldn’t blame anyone for doing that, either.

        • IDC SARC says:

          Anything worth targeting is worth over-targeting…basic gunnery

          • Hondo says:

            Yep. And that’s especially true if the cost of failure is your entire command – which is exactly what a ship’s CO will face if/when this is ever used against an incoming cruise missile.

  3. Steve Balm says:

    You’d see that this is an awesome weapon if you’ve ever seen videos of them in action.

  4. Slow Joe says:

    I thought hyper velocity rounds were electromagnetically fired.

    How can a powder gun propel a round to that speed?

  5. IDC SARC says:

    Freedom Boner!

  6. timactual says:

    I am stunned by this show of common sense by Navy officialdom.

  7. Hondo says:

    Navy Quietly Fires 20 Hyper Velocity Projectiles Through Destroyer’s Deckgun

    Ain’t buying it until I see a photo of the supressor they used while it’s still attached to that 5″ deck gun . . . . (smile)

    • The Other Whitey says:

      That’ll be a *big* can!

      • AW1Ed says:

        More of an Army thing. Out in the middle of the ocean no one much cares how much noise one makes.

        arty dick

        Although I think there’s some compensation issues going on here.

        • Hondo says:

          Out in the middle of the ocean no one much cares how much noise one makes.

          Not really my area of expertise, but I understand your submariner brethren would beg to differ. (smile)

          • AW1Ed says:

            You’d be very surprised in how much noise is put in the water looking for them.

            • Hondo says:

              Not really. I know the basics about sonar – including the fact active sonar generally requires a pretty strong illumination signal. In that respect it’s much like radar.

              I was thinking more along the lines of passive sonar – AKA, that used to acquire a target, either surface or subsurface, without broadcasting one’s own location to the world. It’s my understanding that passive sonar simply loves targets that generate plenty of noise. (smile)

        • Hondo says:

          Oh, and I still want to see the photo of one of those mounted on that 5″ deck gun. (smile)

  8. RGR 4-78 says:

    I wonder what one of these would do to a T-72 at a couple thousand meters, fired from an M-1 Abrams?

    • Hondo says:

      I’d guess not much more than the current 120mm APFSDS round already does – and that’s if it’s a KE penetrator design. If the warhead is explosive vice a KE penetrator, it might be ineffective against reactive armor.

      FWIW: the M829 and M829A2 rounds each were already borderline hypersonic (muzzle velocity of each is around 5,500 ft/sec, which is Mach 4.916+ at sea level); other versions had muzzle velocities in the 5,100 ft/sec range (Mach 4.55+ at sea level). The generally accepted definition of “hypersonic” appears to be anything > Mach 5.

      Also FWIW: the 120mm gun on the Abrams is also very close (within a few mm) to a 5″ bore. Five inches is 127mm. So getting “hypervelocity” out of a 5″ cannon isn’t exactly pushing the envelope all that hard. The Army fielded the initial M829 well before the first Gulf War; an M829 variant has been in the inventory for more than 3 decades.

      • RGR 4-78 says:

        Thanks. That is a lot of fast. No wonder the Abrams is such a beast against Soviet armor.

        • Hondo says:

          Yeah, and due to that speed it carries one helluva wallop.

          To put things into perspetive: if I haven’t screwed up the quick calculation, the penetrator carries a staggering amount of kinetic energy. At muzzle, the faster variants are going about 5,500 ft/sec; the penetrator weighs 10 lbs. That means at the muzzle, the penetrator has 4.697+ million ft-lbs of kinetic energy.

          Even at ranges where it has lost 1/2 of it’s muzzle velocity (e.g., is traveling “only” 2,750 ft/sec) due to air resistance, the penetrator still has a huge amount of kinetic energy: 1.174+ million ft-lbs. And since the penetrator rod is a bit over an inch in diameter, yeah – it penetrates armor rather well at half its muzzle velocity.

  9. Jim says:

    This is discussed in the comments section at the CDR Salamander blog. Some good points made and good questions asked:

  10. Jim says:

    Further thoughts on this round here, a bit more skeptical:

    • AW1Ed says:

      Good points, but remember, this is a system under test. Of course BAE will call it the greatest thing in the history of forever. The answer is usually somewhere in the middle and there-in lies the rub. Does if meet requirements? The Rail gun did not.

  11. MI Ranger says:

    So does the Nautically Challenged Branch have to get whole new targeting systems for their artillery since this is kind of direct lay firing? Or do we still expect to have to shoot like the guys who used to ride equine until they got shields!
    We can really use some of these to shoot down the UAVs!!

    • AW1Ed says:

      Nothing’s too good for you Army guys-I’m sure you’ll get one.

      After the Navy gets through playing, err, testing it, of course.