Royal Navy: Deadly hi-tech naval guns to be fitted to £1.25bn fleet of new Type 31 frigates

DEADLY hi-tech gun systems have been ordered for the Royal Navy’s newest fleet of frigates.

Wednesday, 7th October 2020, 4:45 pm
Updated Wednesday, 7th October 2020, 4:53 pm

Naval top brass have signed off on fitting the first five of Britain’s Type 31 frigates with the Bofors 40 Mk4 and Bofors 57 Mk3 naval guns.

The advanced weapons will be installed by defence giant BAE Systems in Sweden, with deliveries expected to take place between 2023 and 2024.

Five state-of-the-art, computer-loaded Mk3 medium calibre guns have been ordered, which can hurl automatic salvos of shells at 220 rounds per minute, alongside 10 of the Mk4 small calibre guns.

The Bofors 57 Mk3 naval gun firing. The weapons system is to be fitted to the Type 31 frigate. Photo: BAE System/Royal Navy

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Both close-in weapon systems are designed to protect the ships against modern and future complex threats.

Lena Gillström, managing director for BAE Systems Bofors, said: ‘We will be providing the most cutting-edge gun system technology available which can adapt to different levels of conflict, including peacekeeping missions, local coastguard operations, and military operations.

‘This contract increases the number of European nations deploying our advanced, flexible weapon systems.’

An image of what the Type 31 frigates could look like. Engineering giant Babcock has been named the preferred bidder for the £1.3 billion contract to build a new fleet of Royal Navy frigates Photo: Babcock/PA Wire

The Type 31 frigate is due to enter service in 2027 following a slight delay in its programme.

The vessels are expected to be based in Portsmouth and will become the new work horses of the navy, alongside the more advanced Type 26 frigates.

Both naval gun systems will be manufactured at BAE Systems’ facility in Karlskoga, Sweden.

The Bofors 57 Mk3 is used by eight nations, including Canada, Finland, Germany and Sweden, as well as the United States, where it is known as the Mk110 naval gun.

The Bofors 40 Mk4 smaller calibre gun has also been bought for the Type 31 frigates. Photo: BAE System/Royal Navy

The Bofors 40 Mk4 is the latest generation in the 40mm family, and with this contract, the Royal Navy will become its fifth operator.

Updating parliament about the new frigate programme, defence minister Jeremy Quin, insisted steel would be cut on the first five vessels in 2021.

‘The first Type 31 Frigate will be in the water in 2023 and all five ships will be delivered by the end of 2028,’ he said.

‘The approved in service date for the first Type 31 is May 2027. The dates for initial operating capability and full operating capability have not yet been determined.’

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