India’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) recently approved the INR15 billion ($243.5 million) procurement of 13 127-mm guns for Indian Navy (IN) warships, for which Italy’s OTO Melara was the sole bidder.
According to Rahul Bedi, Jane’s Defence Weekly correspondent, OTO Melara has offered its 127/64 LW – Vulcano gun system for 13 indigenously designed and built Shivalik-class frigates and Delhi-class destroyers. OTO Melara emerged as the solitary vendor after BAE Systems declined to field its 127 mm/62 calibre Mk-45 Naval Gun System.
The November 2013 tender stipulated that three of the 13 naval guns would be imported and the remaining 10 licence-built by state-owned Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) at Haridwar, 200 km north of New Delhi. The MoD also wanted the vendors to undertake production, quality control and timeline guarantees for the BHEL-produced naval guns but without providing the vendor with executive or supervisory authority over the public sector company. BAE Systems opposed this arrangement, and in an official statement declared its unwillingness to accept the «disproportionate level of risk» in the tender.
Industry sources said OTO Melara has no such reservations as BHEL has been licence-producing its 76/62 Super Rapid Light gun since the mid-1990s. The contract will require special clearance by the MoD’s Defence Acquisition Council, however, as India’s Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) discourages solitary bids. The DPP provides for exceptions based on operational exigencies, of which the 127-mm gun procurement is one, Indian Navy sources said.
OTO Melara: 127/64 LW – VULCANO System
The 127/64 LW – VULCANO System consists of four key sub-systems:
- The medium caliber 127/64 LW Gun assembly;
- The Automated Ammunition Handling System;
- The Naval Fire Control Support;
- The VULCANO family of ammunition.
The 127/64 LW – VULCANO is a state of art medium caliber gun suitable for installation on large and medium size ships and intended for surface fire and naval gunfire support as main role and anti-aircraft fire as secondary role. The compactness of the gun feeding system makes possible the installation on narrow section crafts.
The 127/64 LW – VULCANO is equipped with a modular feeding magazine, composed by 4 drums with 14 ready to fire ammunition each, reloadable during firing, and highly flexible in terms of selection of ammunition, independently from their position in the drums. Ammunition flow is reversible as rounds can be downloaded automatically.
The 127/64 LW – VULCANO can fire all standard 127-mm/5 inches ammunition as well as the new VULCANO family of ammunition.
The 127/64 LW – VULCANO has digital/analogical interface and ballistic calculation capabilities that allow a smooth integration with any Combat Management System.
The Automatic Ammunition Handling System is a modular solution adaptable to any ship ammunition magazine layout; it is able to load the feeding magazine of the gun without man assistance during operation to allow a sustained firing action of the gun. The system is able to handle both standard 127-mm/5-inches ammunition and new VULCANO family of ammunition.
The Naval Fire Control Support is a mission planning system that may support the Combat Management System for definition of possible firing solutions, ammunition selection, trajectory definition, best ship course identification.
The 127-mm VULCANO ammunition family is composed by Ballistic Extended Range (BER) and Guided Long Range (GLR) ammunition with different multifunctional fuses, sensor and final guidance that extend the range of the gun up to 100 km.
The 127/64 LW VULCANO System is ITAR free and it has been currently selected by three customers.
Rate of fire: 32 rds/min ± 10% elevation depending
Dry Weight (without ammunition): 33,000 kg ± 5% configuration depending
Training arc: ±155º
Elevation arc: -12º/+70º
Training speed/acceleration max: 40º/sec (60º/sec2)
Elevation speed/acceleration max: 30º/sec (40º/sec2)
Range, max: >100 km (Vulcano ammunition)
Cooling system: sea water – fresh water for flushing
Electrical power supply: 440 V, 3 -phase, 60 Hz, <135 kW main circuit, 115 V, 1 -phase, 60 Hz, 4 kW