Oto Melara (a subsidiary of the Finmeccanica Group) and Babcock International Group’s Marine Division have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to offer the Oto Melara 127mm 64-cal Light Weight (LW) Medium Calibre Gun System to the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) for the Type 26 frigate for the Royal Navy.
The 127/64 LW has already been selected by other European navies and has been developed as a complete system, including long range precision guided ammunition.
Under the agreed co-operation between the two companies, Babcock would be the prime contractor to the MoD, leveraging its established position as a Tier 1 contractor. The arrangements would provide significant licensed work for Babcock, with opportunities for a broad UK supply chain, in assembly, test, setting to work and on-going in-service support in the UK.
There is also potential for the system to be offered in UK sales of Type 26 derivatives for the export market.
The Oto Melara 127/64 LW gun is capable of firing up to 35 rounds per minute. The production turret weighs less than 29 tons and the ‘peppered’ muzzle brake with an aluminium shield keeps cost down, improves maintenance and reduces radar cross-section. The gun uses an advanced ammunition handling system, consisting of four revolving drum magazines holding 56 ready-to-fire rounds of more than four different types, allowing flexibility in ammunition selection and a high rate of sustained fire.
It is capable of anti-surface and anti-air defence, and area engagement. The new Vulcano ammunition is capable of precision engagement at ranges previously only achievable by missile systems but at a fraction of the cost.
Both Babcock and Finmeccanica view this as an exciting and mutually beneficial relationship.
Babcock Equipment Solutions managing director Roger Gillespie said: “We are delighted to be working in co-operation with Oto Melara to offer this gun system for the Type 26 frigate. Babcock is already known as a leading contractor for weapon support work for the UK MoD and is expert in the manufacture, assembly, test and setting to work of naval weapon systems.
We hold a long-term Phalanx Close-in Weapon System support contract, as well as having the contract to modify Mk8 Guns to Mod1 standard, and providing logistics support for the Mod1 Gun.”
Oto Melara senior vice president marketing and sales Ulderigo Rossi said: “The 127/64 LW medium calibre gun system is now in production for the Italian FREMM and the German F125. We are delighted to be working with a UK industrial team to offer this for the Royal Navy’s Type 26 frigate.”
The two companies are also exploring other products and markets where they feel they may profitably co-operate.