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Naval Weapons

USN considers options for replacing Zumwalt's LRLAP projectile

29 December 2016
Zumwalt, left, is shown alongside USS Independence (LCS 2) on the final leg of the former's three-month journey to San Diego, California, where the USN will begin installation of Zumwalt's combat systems, testing and evaluation, and integration with the fleet. Source: US Navy

Key Points

  • Three possible solutions exist for a LRLAP replacement: Excalibur, MS-SGP, and the Hyper Velocity Projectile
  • Replacing LRLAP, which was developed specifically for AGS, could add further costs to Zumwalt's price tag

The Long Range Land Attack Projectile (LRLAP), originally designed for USS Zumwalt 's (DDG 1000) Advanced Gun System (AGS), has become too expensive and the US Navy (USN) is exploring options to replace the round, sources told IHS Jane's .

However, AGS was built specifically by BAE Systems to handle only LRLAP rounds, which means there are few, if any, projectiles that could seamlessly transition to fill the 155 mm requirement. The navy is considering two potential options: Raytheon's 155 mm Excalibur 1b and BAE Systems' Multi-Service Standard Guided Projectile (MS-SGP). A third option could be to speed development of the Hyper Velocity Projectile (HVP) that was originally designed for the electromagnetic railgun.

BAE Systems and Raytheon declined to comment for this story.

Industry sources said the navy is leaning towards Excalibur because it is the only one of those three projectiles currently in production. It is unlikely to be a one-for-one replacement whichever route the navy takes to replace the LRLAP (currently priced between USD800,000 and USD1 million per projectile, while Excalibur costs about USD68,000 per round).

The navy has said no decision has been made for replacing the LRLAP. The USN has approximately 90 LRLAP test rounds in its inventory to conduct Zumwalt 's combat system and AGS tests. However, if the navy has no plan to buy further LRLAP rounds from Lockheed Martin, the service may be less inclined to incur the cost of conducting any weapon system testing until officials decide which projectile will be fired from the AGS.

Even if the USN opts to transition Excalibur from land forces to a navy gun, there is much to consider: could Excalibur be fired from the AGS; would the AGS's unique magazine and loading system need to be modified to handle another projectile; and would the navy be giving up any capability by procuring Excalibur or another projectile for Zumwalt ?

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