Defence firm BAE has been selected by Whitehall to provide the Type 26 frigates with its 5in Mk 45 Mod 4 gun – a battle-proven weapon used by nearly a dozen navies, as demonstrated in the image by the USS Forrest Sherman.
It can typically pound a target with pinpoint accuracy up to 23 miles – and with specially-adapted extended-range shells hit objectives 57 miles away.
That means, with a Type 26 moored at South Railway Jetty in Portsmouth, its shells could land inside the M25 ring, hitting Heathrow, or the army ranges around Warminster.
And from ‘frigate alley’ in Devonport, shells could crash down on Culdrose, Ilfracombe and Honiton.
The Mk 45 can pump out up to 20 standard shells, nearly 10kg heavier than those fired by the RN’s 4.5in ‘Kryten’ on Type 23 frigates and Type 45 destroyers, a minute, each one leaving the barrel at more than twice the speed of sound.
It spews out the extended range shells at a slower rate (about ten a minute), but they hurtle through the air at speeds in excess of Mach 3.
In various forms and models, nearly 250 Mk 45 guns are in service with the world’s navies, most notably the US, which has the weapon fitted to its Arleigh-Burke destroyers and Ticonderoga-class cruisers.
Earlier this year BAE, the US and Royal Navies took part in technical briefings on the Mk 45 gun aboard the USS Winston Churchill, which is equipped with the weapon, when the destroyer visited Portsmouth.
As preferred bidder for the Type 26’s gun, BAE will be expected to deliver the weapon plus its automated handling system, fire control system and ammunition.
Image: Royal Navy