Australia has contracted BAE to upgrade the Anzac-class frigates’ existing Mk45 Mod 2 naval gun with a Common Control System (CCS), with the first delivery planned in early 2026.

The upgrade will extend the life of the system “for decades to come” and deal with “obsolescence issues” according to a statement from BAE on 8 January 2024. 

According to Brent Butcher, vice president of weapon systems at BAE Systems, the CCS will enable the Mk45 gun systems to integrate precision guided munitions in to naval fires. “We are committed to modernising and equipping allied nations with enhanced Mk 45 gun systems to address current and future threats,” added Butcher.

The obsolescence issues that the Mk45 Mod 2 faces in the absence of a CCS relate to supportability issues currently being experienced with the gun’s electronic services control unit and fuze setter amplifier, technology that dates back to the 1970’s and the introduction of the Mod 0 design. 

BAE’s Louisville Kentucky overhaul point offers a range of modernisation options for the Mk45 Mod 2 gun system, including refurbishment, or fully upgrading the guns to a Mod 4 configuration. A document from BAE Systems describing these options identifies the installation of the CCS as a “cost-effective” upgrade option that uses the Mod 4 control system for a refurbished Mod 2 gun. 

Anzac Mk 45 Mod 2 naval gun new configuration

In the new configuration, the gun will have modified software and a digitally controlled mechanical fuze setter, as well as an ammunition recognition capability to screen for compatibility between the projectile and propellant and between the ammunition and the gun. A digitally controlled training elevation drive will control the 54-calibre barrel, and an ordnance alteration will add the capability to initialise and fire extended range projectiles at the normal energy level for a Mk 45 Mod 2 gun system. 

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In October 2013, BAE won a five-year contract with the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) to modernise the Mk45 guns installed aboard Anzac-class vessels, overhauling the guns and providing them with an anti-ship missile defence upgrade that upgraded the Combat Management Systems and the fire control systems and installed an Infra-Red Search and Track System for the detection of low level aircraft and anti-ship missiles while the ship is close to land. 

Designed and developed by BAE Systems Land & Armaments, the 127mm Mk 45 mod 2 gun can fire at a rate of 20 rounds a minute to a range of over 20km.

The 118 metre-long Anzac-class frigates vessels have a displacement capacity of 3,600 tonnes, a speed of 27 knots, with a maximum range of 11,000km and can accommodate a crew of 163.