In a strategic move to enhance the Royal Australian Navy’s firepower, BAE Systems has clinched a contract to deliver Mk 45 naval guns equipped with an automated ammunition handling system (AHS) for the upcoming Hunter-class frigates. 

The contract will improve Australia’s naval capabilities. The Mk 45 gun system offers a common and adaptable platform, facilitating the integration of munitions tailored to meet the Hunter-class frigates’ deterrence mission.

Brent Butcher, vice president and general manager of weapon systems at BAE Systems, Inc., expressed pride in partnering with BAE Systems Maritime Australia for this endeavour. “We are proud to partner with BAE Systems Maritime Australia to deliver the Mk 45 gun system and Ammunition Handling System to the Royal Australian Navy.

The highly reliable Mk 45 system maximises the lethality of the Hunter-class frigates, offers the capability to integrate advanced munitions, and supports additional future technology upgrades. With this system fielded on 11 fleets across the globe, it has proven it offers high reliability.”

In 2013, the Royal Australian Navy granted BAE Systems a five-year contract to modernise the Mk45 guns on the Anzac-class vessels.

The Mk 45 gun system combines a 5-inch, 62-caliber Mk 45 Mod 4A naval gun with a fully automated AHS, ensuring a supply of ammunition in high sea state conditions without crew assistance. This automation enhances sailor productivity and mitigates risks to sailor safety, elevating the operational capability of the Mk 45 at sea.

Work on the contract is slated to commence in 2023, with completion expected in 2036. The engineering phase will occur in Minneapolis, Minnesota, while production will occur in Louisville, Kentucky. 

Australia plans to have its locally built Hunter-class frigates, based on the UK’s Type 26-class design, enter service by late 2020s, according to GlobalData’s “The Global Naval Vessels and Surface Combatants Market 2023-2033” report. 

It was recently announced that Anschütz is also set to enhance Australia’s Hunter-Class frigate programme with its Synapsis Warship Integrated Navigation and Bridge Systems (WINBS). Anschütz will supply and integrate the WINBS in collaboration with BAE Systems Australia.