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.