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Author Topic: MK 71 Lightweight 8" gun.  (Read 23433 times)

Offline Madurai

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Re: MK 71 Lightweight 8" gun.
« Reply #15 on: January 19, 2010, 09:05:04 am »
The 175mm version of the MCLWG would have been able to use Army ammo stocks--and indeed that was why the caliber was selected--but the 8" would not. It was designed to use the stocks of fixed-round ammunition formerly used by the Mark 16 8"/55 RF guns from the Des Moines class.

Offline DanielStarseer

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Re: MK 71 Lightweight 8" gun.
« Reply #16 on: January 19, 2010, 09:37:58 am »
Hey all,
long time lurker and just recently joined.

In discussing naval gunfire support, and the inclusion of MLRS developments,
has there ever been in the past mention on any of the threads here about Lockheed Martin's POLAR derivative of the MLRS rocket ?
(Precision, Over-the-horizon, Land Attack Rocket)

Have seen it discussed numerous forums elsewhere, but sadly can't seem to find a lot of solid evidence of it anymore thru the web.

From what I recall,
by the standard MLRS rocket's 9" diameter dimesions, it should've ideally quadpacked into VLS cells similar to the larger diameter (10 inch rocket motor casing) ESSM Evolved Sea Sparrow.
Suggested range was (hoped for?) in the neighborhood of 180km, and IIRC a unitary warhead was the preferred payload.

Notice how this compares to the latest G-MLRS rockets that utilize a 90kg unitary warhead and ranges approaching 90km...there's obviously some useful design life left in the MLRS form (a ship version could be longer than the podded rockets used by land-based launch vehicles),
or even greater capability to be achieved if a fire support system is designed utilizing the 10" body of the ESSM.

This certainly merits consideration for longer-ranged fire support, since obviously the USN isn't going to be producing many of those DDG1000 destroyers with their two 155mm guns and Long Range Land Attack Projectiles...with a POLAR/ESSM derivative, any VLS-equipped ships capable of using SeaSparrow type missiles could thus function as fire support ships.
(seems an easier solution than sinking development money into a new gun mounting...)

Offline Abraham Gubler

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Re: MK 71 Lightweight 8" gun.
« Reply #17 on: January 20, 2010, 03:58:33 pm »
Hey all, long time lurker and just recently joined.

Welcome.

In discussing naval gunfire support, and the inclusion of MLRS developments,
has there ever been in the past mention on any of the threads here about Lockheed Martin's POLAR derivative of the MLRS rocket ?
(Precision, Over-the-horizon, Land Attack Rocket)

Most of this forums history is in aircraft projects with navy and army projects being recent additions. There is also a very good search tool but there is little on MLRS and nothing on POLAR here before this thread.

POLAR was proposed by Lockheed in 1999 as a contender for the US Navyís abortive land attack missile requirement: won by Raytheon with the LASM, aka SM-4, converted high time SM-2s to land attack.

POLAR was an evolution of the then in development GMLRS but with the bigger (by 30%) rocket motor for longer range. The bigger motor enabled stand off range outside expected coastal defences and compensated for loss of range thanks to vertical rather than slant launch.

This certainly merits consideration for longer-ranged fire support, since obviously the USN isn't going to be producing many of those DDG1000 destroyers with their two 155mm guns and Long Range Land Attack Projectiles...with a POLAR/ESSM derivative, any VLS-equipped ships capable of using SeaSparrow type missiles could thus function as fire support ships.
(seems an easier solution than sinking development money into a new gun mounting...)

I agree. While a GMLRS type rocket like POLAR tends to cost around 5-10 times more than a ERGM or LRLAP it can achieve lower cost per kill thanks to its higher payload delivery (4.6 times the bomblets compared to  LRLAP) and lower volume/weight per kill. The equivalent of a full AGS 155mm gun turret and magazine (600 rounds) could be meet by only half a 64 cell Mk 41 VLS loaded with 32 quadpacked canisters for POLAR. Obviously the efficiencies of using existing Mk 41 VLS launchers compared to the AGS gun system are immense.

Here is a POLAR picture from an old Armada magazine.
"There is a tendency in our planning to confuse the unfamiliar with the improbable." Thomas Schelling

Offline DanielStarseer

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Re: MK 71 Lightweight 8" gun.
« Reply #18 on: January 20, 2010, 05:53:58 pm »
Thanks for the Welcome.

WRT to the LASM, funny thing there is, is it even in service?
Other than forum discussions and pictures depicting various VLS cell load outs, I've seen little mention of it.

Could be it's been considerably back-burnered so as not to detract away from the AGS/LRLAP program,...? (speculation on my part)

As to costs, I don't know that I'd give benefit of the doubt to 5" types (ERGM, BTERM, etc) and LRLAP costing less than these POLARs (longer-bodied GMLRS): the MLRS rocket lines already are in production status, so the tooling shouldn't be too complicated to ramp into the POLAR derivative when GMLRS production isn't needed (plus it conserves jobs and the tech pool).
The US has faltered repeatedly on guided shell programs for its 127mm ship guns, always seeming to bail out at the last minutes as the tech is finally starting to show promise.

I don't have much faith that the 155mm AGS' LRLAPs will be cheap, either: even if magazine capacity is stated as ~600 rounds, that's still gonna be a mighty expensive warload to fill just one DDG1000's two gun magazines.
And keep in mind also, these rounds, impressive as they may be, are pretty much going to be hull-specific to the DDG1000 class.
If by some grace-of-the-naval-gods the USN pursues an adhoc 155mm deck gun for retrofit to ships currently mounting 5-inch guns (M777-based? The titanium construction would hold up better under seawater environment, I believe),
these LRLAPs are of such a size (length) that they'd need to be manually-loaded,..unless, of course, a turret configured the likes of the 8" Mk71 is brought into service...but with a 155mm tube (to move 8" shells, the Mk71 obviously has more internal room for larger shells than a Mk45 127mm turret).
Still, at several feet shorter in length than the AGS' barrel,
I don't believe any 155mm weapon shorter than the AGS' 55-cal tube will fire the LRLAP as far...

I think the USN flubbed considerably in abandoning the Mk71, if naval gunfire support is supposedly going to be so prominent in the future (that in itself is, perhaps, a USN/USMC desire based solely on adoption of the AGS program, possibly,...?).

Still, a fascinating what-if solution that certainly still has some merit behind it (both POLAR and the Mk71...hell, even a derivative lightweight 155mm naval gun could at least fire Excalibur projectiles, even if those are "only" rated to ~40km ranges...

It has been mentioned the Israelis' preference/experience with surface-to-surface rockets from ships: they use several different rocket body diameters in their land systems that, with the current developments in precision guidance as aftermarket add-ons, they certainly have a lot of potential cheap SSMs suitable for a majority of littoral targets.

Hopefully, the USN will wake up and and at least further put more effort into finalizing a working 127mm design...saw in tests that a few reached like 60 nautical miles, not bad at all.

(I'm still working out how everything functions posting here,...give me a little time to work up to linking status...)

Offline Abraham Gubler

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Re: MK 71 Lightweight 8" gun.
« Reply #19 on: January 20, 2010, 06:34:52 pm »
WRT to the LASM, funny thing there is, is it even in service?
Other than forum discussions and pictures depicting various VLS cell load outs, I've seen little mention of it.

RGM-165 aka LASM, SM-4 was cancelled in 2002 supposedly because of its limited capability to engage mobile and hardened targets but really for cost. 800 SM-2s were to be converted with the first entering the fleet in 2003/04.

Could be it's been considerably back-burnered so as not to detract away from the AGS/LRLAP program,...? (speculation on my part)

Yeap.

As to costs, I don't know that I'd give benefit of the doubt to 5" types (ERGM, BTERM, etc) and LRLAP costing less than these POLARs (longer-bodied GMLRS):

Iím quoting ATK for that cost bracket. Though USA defence unit costs are available openly and online just not laid out in such a nice cost comparison.

I don't have much faith that the 155mm AGS' LRLAPs will be cheap, either: even if magazine capacity is stated as ~600 rounds, that's still gonna be a mighty expensive warload to fill just one DDG1000's two gun magazines.

Especially since they can only fire LRLAPs and canít load conventional 155mm ammunition because it wonít work in the AGS.

If by some grace-of-the-naval-gods the USN pursues an adhoc 155mm deck gun for retrofit to ships currently mounting 5-inch guns (M777-based? The titanium construction would hold up better under seawater environment, I believe),these LRLAPs are of such a size (length) that they'd need to be manually-loaded,..unless, of course, a turret configured the likes of the 8" Mk71 is brought into service...but with a 155mm tube (to move 8" shells, the Mk71 obviously has more internal room for larger shells than a Mk45 127mm turret).

No that wouldnít work. A gun like the M777 canít fire LRLAP. Even if you could fit it in the bore you couldnít develop enough chamber pressure to send it anywhere significant. Except for the tube size there is no commonality between AGS 155mm and NATO standard 155mm. There are several naval turret NATO standard 155mms under development including a British turret and a Navalised version of the German AGM (aka Donar). Anyway such a conventional 155mm offers little in advantage to legacy 127mm L54s except a single source of ammunition production.

I think the USN flubbed considerably in abandoning the Mk71, if naval gunfire support is supposedly going to be so prominent in the future (that in itself is, perhaps, a USN/USMC desire based solely on adoption of the AGS program, possibly,...?).

Well not quite because they didnít go from Mk 71 to AGS. The intervening stop was VGAS which fired the 155mm LRLAP through two fixed vertically mounted barrels. Combined with ~1,500 LRLAP rounds this assembly would fit into the same space as a 64 cell Mk 41 VLS. VGAS was very capable and efficient and accessible to a range of ship designs. Unfortunately (EDIT) the dumb arse Congress (end EDIT) decided that the new 155mm gun need to be able to fire conventional dumb ammunition so demanded it be redesigned as a trainable, elevating turret mount. What then happened was so much money was spent on the turret that none was available to develop the compatible 155mm conventional ammunition. So AGS like VGAS could only fire LRLAP but was far more costly, complex, volume and weight consuming and limited to purpose designed ships.

http://www.secretprojects.co.uk/forum/index.php/topic,689.0
« Last Edit: January 21, 2010, 02:11:25 pm by Abraham Gubler »
"There is a tendency in our planning to confuse the unfamiliar with the improbable." Thomas Schelling

Offline TomS

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Re: MK 71 Lightweight 8" gun.
« Reply #20 on: January 21, 2010, 05:00:00 am »
There are a couple of corrections needed here.  I was working in support of the Navy's surface combatant Progam Office in the late 1990s, and was specifically responsible for media monitoring and strategic communications, so I think I had a pretty goood grasp of what was going on with respect to the programs. 

1) The Navy had two major (non-cruise missile) land-attack missile projects in the 1990s -- the interim land-attack missile in roughly 1996-1997, and the Advanced Land Attack Missile that was part of the DD-21 program.  For the interim program, LASM beat out Naval ATACMS in late 1997, though the Navy continued to discuss buying both missiles into early 1998.  ALAM never reached the competition stage (they only issued a draft requirement), but NTACMS was considered the leading candidate. 

As attractive as it was in concept, POLAR did not compete in either of these requirements.  POLAR was a Lockheed company initiative announced in 1999 and it never really matched up with any stated Navy program.  It was too late for the interim missile requirement and would not have been responsive to ALAM, since that required a range of at least 200 nautical miles.  If anything, it was seen as a fall-back for guided gun rounds, rather than as an alternative to longer-ranged strike missiles.

2) It was not the Navy that rejected VGAS, it was Congress.  I've posted the relevant links before, so I won't do so again, but the gist is that Congress declined to allow the Navy to proceed with VGAS unless it did a tradeoff study against trainable guns.  That's clear in the congressional records of the day.  Behind the scenes, it was made clear that certain members of Congress felt VGAS was too inflexible and insisted on trainable guns due to their supposed utility in surface warfare (attacking small boats, etc.).  There was  lot of heartburn over this within the program office, but the conclusion was that this wasn't a winnable fight, so they acquiesced. 


Offline Abraham Gubler

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Re: MK 71 Lightweight 8" gun.
« Reply #21 on: January 21, 2010, 02:10:06 pm »
There are a couple of corrections needed here.  I was working in support of the Navy's surface combatant Progam Office in the late 1990s, and was specifically responsible for media monitoring and strategic communications, so I think I had a pretty goood grasp of what was going on with respect to the programs.  

Thanks for the more information.
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Offline Sea Skimmer

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Re: MK 71 Lightweight 8" gun.
« Reply #22 on: February 08, 2010, 05:59:33 pm »
No that wouldnít work. A gun like the M777 canít fire LRLAP. Even if you could fit it in the bore you couldnít develop enough chamber pressure to send it anywhere significant. Except for the tube size there is no commonality between AGS 155mm and NATO standard 155mm. There are several naval turret NATO standard 155mms under development including a British turret and a Navalised version of the German AGM (aka Donar). Anyway such a conventional 155mm offers little in advantage to legacy 127mm L54s except a single source of ammunition production.

The British turret is beyond dead for lack of money in the RN for even more basic capabilities like torpedo tubes on the Type 45. The Germans abandon the naval Pz2000 turret was well, because it corroded in seawater. Changing everything to avoid this would amount to designing a new turret. The French project died even earlier.

Offline Abraham Gubler

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Re: MK 71 Lightweight 8" gun.
« Reply #23 on: February 08, 2010, 06:37:09 pm »
The PzH2000 turret on a German navy frigate was only a demonstrator. KMW now market their unmanned AGM turret as a possible naval solution. Obviously there is not that much interest in giving up 127mm.

An interesting point related to the earlier discussions is the US Navy actually did some work on shooting MLRS 9" rockets out of an ASROC launcher.
"There is a tendency in our planning to confuse the unfamiliar with the improbable." Thomas Schelling

Offline Sea Skimmer

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Re: MK 71 Lightweight 8" gun.
« Reply #24 on: February 10, 2010, 01:58:06 am »
Yeah it did, but POLAR was only going to get built if we also built Arsenal Ship and tried to replace the volume of fire provided by 16in shells on a one for one basis with guided missiles. 512 Mk41 cells quad packed with POLAR would do that nicely. This was not very realistic, nor necessary. Meanwhile the unreality of desired USMC fire support requirements for range, volume and response time pretty much ensures nothing will ever be fielded to met them. SM-4 could fly far enough, but not with the numbers and even then its mach 3+ speed was not truly sufficient, nor could we ever hope to field enough specialist versions of the weapon to provide critical pieces of fire support like smoke cover.

It isnít even clear now that the mere three DDG-1000s to be produced will even have the Advanced Gun System which continues to show major technical problems and will likely never met anything like its claimed range specs. It wonít be surprising if they are completed with 5in 62cal guns or even nothing heavier then the 57mm battery. Its not like theyíll ever be used in combat. Test ships for life.

Offline Abraham Gubler

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Re: MK 71 Lightweight 8" gun.
« Reply #25 on: February 10, 2010, 02:13:14 am »
The USMC fire support requirements for amphibious assault are not unrealistic. They are based on what is actually required to achieve the mission from mine clearance through to more traditional offensive support. Added to that is the recent US Navy mission for sea based interdiction of land targets requiring rapid and deep strike. That the US Navy does not have a ship platform to provide the marineís fire support does not mean it isnít provided. It means more carrier support is required for each amphibious assault with the strike aircraft dropping bombs where rockets and shells would comply.

The three single 8Ē Mk 71 and two twin 5Ē Mk 66 gun combination in the ~5,000 tonne LFS classes proposed in 1970 could have provided the greater bulk of the fire support required for an amphibious assault. With contemporary capabilities like PGK and ERGM it could also evolve into providing a lot of deeper fires capabilities required for sea based interdiction. Imagine a 160 kg / 350 lb 8Ē ERGM shell?

The disaster that is the DDG 1000 is what happens when the solution to the problem is manipulated in committee for 30 years before being built.
"There is a tendency in our planning to confuse the unfamiliar with the improbable." Thomas Schelling

Offline Sea Skimmer

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Re: MK 71 Lightweight 8" gun.
« Reply #26 on: February 10, 2010, 02:36:08 am »
The USMC fire support requirements for amphibious assault are not unrealistic. They are based on what is actually required to achieve the mission from mine clearance through to more traditional offensive support.

Just because you can find a reason to ask for a capability does not mean its realistic to try to field that capability. The Marines are seeking to change the entire way they fight and conduct a landing, with the navy providing all artillery support for missions requiring more then a 120mm mortar. Theyíve got reason to ask for that since modern weapons would crush a conventional beachhead and helicopter landing zones, but it doesnít mean will find a good solution.

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Added to that is the recent US Navy mission for sea based interdiction of land targets requiring rapid and deep strike. That the US Navy does not have a ship platform to provide the marineís fire support does not mean it isnít provided. It means more carrier support is required for each amphibious assault with the strike aircraft dropping bombs where rockets and shells would comply.

Air strikes canít meet the response times, unless you already have a plane in the air with the proper load out. This is not realistic then a Marine Expeditionary Strike group will have maybe 6-10 Harriers or F-35s to utilize for all roles. Advanced Gun System canít meet the response times either for that matter, the shell just takes too long to glide to 100nm, not that it has been tested that far in the first place. IIRC theyíve gotten to about 65nm.

As a bigger problem air strikes lack sustainment. One air strike can cause much more damage then an artillery barrage, but the artillery can just keep falling to keep an enemy suppressed or lay down a final protective fire. These are vital artillery missions, and if a warship based system canít replace them then the Marines need to go back to air landing 155mm howitzers very early on in an invasion. They donít want to do that because towed guns are slow and clumsy to move, and would require a lot of airlifted ammo. But sometimes you donít get to do what you want.
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The three single 8Ē Mk 71 and two twin 5Ē Mk 66 gun combination in the ~5,000 tonne LFS classes proposed in 1970 could have provided the greater bulk of the fire support required for an amphibious assault.

It was still a 175mm gun back then. But anyway for a conventional over the beach assault, sure that works fine. But now the USN wants 25nm minimal stand off range, and the Marines want; to be able to support a landing at least 50nm inland. Providing counter battery support for that landing requires another 25nm of reach, so you need a weapon that can shoot at least 100nm. This is further then the Paris gun or 21cm K12 could throw a shell with a barrel over 100 calibers long. The 8in Mk71 and undeveloped Mk66 mount are no closer to doing this then any number of other abortive programs or future napkinwaffen concepts.

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With contemporary capabilities like PGK and ERGM it could also evolve into providing a lot of deeper fires capabilities required for sea based interdiction. Imagine a 160 kg / 350 lb 8Ē ERGM shell?

The AGS shell already weighs 200lb, so its not hard to imagine. However its still very demanding to make a shell like that fly far enough without gliding. ERGM and AGS glide, that makes them slow to response, much more so then a 155mm towed battery firing a shell 20 miles or less, and very expensive and time consuming to develop. That's besides the costs of fielding a dedicated bombardment ship. In the 1970s that could have happened. In the modern day, no way. Whatever the solution, if any, it has to be able to go on a wide range of ships so our numerous Marine Ready Groups and Strike Groups can all have fire support at hand.

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The disaster that is the DDG 1000 is what happens when the solution to the problem is manipulated in committee for 30 years before being built.

That plagues everything the US military touches, and will plague new solutions as much as the existing ones.
« Last Edit: February 10, 2010, 02:41:14 am by Sea Skimmer »

Offline Abraham Gubler

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Re: MK 71 Lightweight 8" gun.
« Reply #27 on: February 10, 2010, 03:17:02 am »
Air strikes canít meet the response times, unless you already have a plane in the air with the proper load out. This is not realistic then a Marine Expeditionary Strike group will have maybe 6-10 Harriers or F-35s to utilize for all roles. Advanced Gun System canít meet the response times either for that matter, the shell just takes too long to glide to 100nm, not that it has been tested that far in the first place. IIRC theyíve gotten to about 65nm.

Which is why an MEU with an amphibious assault mission is supposed to have 2 CSGs able to provide >40 strike fighters 24-7.

That's besides the costs of fielding a dedicated bombardment ship. In the 1970s that could have happened. In the modern day, no way. Whatever the solution, if any, it has to be able to go on a wide range of ships so our numerous Marine Ready Groups and Strike Groups can all have fire support at hand.

Which is why the interest in this thread with the naval MLRS/POLAR concept type of missile. Because this is the sort of system that can consume 32 VLS cells on each destroyer or LCS providing each surface combatant ship with 128 missiles. 16 surface combatants equals one arsenal ship and they can each do they naval warfare tasks while on hand for call to fire. Obviously GMLRS has only half the range of the 75 NM mission (when slant launched). But a GMLRS is under 4m long and the VLS canister can hold a missile up to 6.25m long.
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Offline DanielStarseer

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Re: MK 71 Lightweight 8" gun.
« Reply #28 on: February 17, 2010, 11:07:55 am »
Like how the discussion's been going, guys.

WRT using modern POLAR variants,
yes, we can see that current G-MLRS rounds don't have the favored ~100nm range,...but also remember, the G-MLRS has a ~90kg warhead (saw somewhere suggesting it was carrying 22kg of actual explosive content...or was that the LRLAP?).
This is a much larger warhead (bursting charge/lethal mechanism) than any of the artillery tube-based systems.
So is there any reason why we couldn't sacrifice warhead (payload) capacity to fit a longer rocket motor that would give us this supposed favorable ~100nm range?

Curious to see how the latest in Techno-WondermentTM would make POLAR perform today (do we just dust off the original 1990s specs, or try it new with the latest propellant tech and electronics/electromechanics and strake wings as in the G-MLRS+ types now coming along?).

The other option there is Lockheed Martin's P44 design, a ~7inch diameter munition that, in MLRS pod form, replaces a 6-cell (~9inch diameter) MLRS pod with a 10-cell P44 pod, claiming P44's had the multimode seeker option that NLOS-LS/PAM is going to use, with Hellfire-class warheads (to about 28 lbs, IIRC), and ~70km ranges.
(numerous links abound for the P44,... http://www.pcb007.com/pages/zone.cgi?a=14938&z=68&v=  )

Yeah, it still comes considerably shy of 100nm, but it still outranges the only other
alternative easily-fielded-in-large-enough-numbers missile, the NetFires PAM, (~40km as it sits now, and also an unpowered glider at its maximum range).

I'm just guessing here, but it seems reasonable that the longer P44 airframe, even with an unpowered terminal glide approach also, most likely would still impact targets faster (but not necessarily get farther, faster), being boosted higher in their trajectory than PAMs, so having greater KE built up in a longer glide/dive,...?


Seeing as 5inch guns obviously aren't going away anytime soon, further development of their guided projectiles seems an obvious course of action.
But there again, not everyone has ships fitting 5inch guns, but would certainly still like effective, ACCURATE, stand off surface attack firepower.

POLARs and P44s seem like they'd offer the closest to what the USMC deems it needs.
Either would give favorable warhead weight, multimode seekers, and massed numbers, but the biggest drawback being lack of desired range.

At the other end of that spectrum, anything offering those ranges, ~100nm, are big and expensive, and hard to produce in sufficient quantity for that reason,
let alone being much larger and needing more space on a given ship, meaning less will be carried, etc...(such a vicious trade-off cycle).

The only other alternative to these and the obviously limited number of AGS/LRLAPs
is another expensive program,
this time to develop ramjet-powered (long range and high speed) missiles that offer
an effective-enough warhead, multi seeker options, and packable in ships in sufficient quantity, which means they can't be too expensive.
Tough sell on that one.
And ideally, utilizing current VLS systems is an obvious plus (attracts many more customers).

As nostalgic as those big deck guns and all their flame-belching booming power is, I just don't see them making a comeback (not even in the AGS, not successfully anyway) in large enough numbers to make much difference.



Offline Abraham Gubler

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Re: MK 71 Lightweight 8" gun.
« Reply #29 on: February 17, 2010, 02:48:20 pm »
yes, we can see that current G-MLRS rounds don't have the favored ~100nm range,...but also remember, the G-MLRS has a ~90kg warhead (saw somewhere suggesting it was carrying 22kg of actual explosive content...or was that the LRLAP?).

The warhead on the GMLRS is similar to the shell of an 8 inch (203mm) gun. Which is about as close to ideal for field artillery effect as you can get. Great for frontage in barrages and great point destruction on delay for taking out bunkers.
"There is a tendency in our planning to confuse the unfamiliar with the improbable." Thomas Schelling