asked Her Majesty's Government:
What alternatives were considered before awarding the Defence Technology and Innovation Centre, BAE Systems and QinetiQ contracts to develop a prototype 155 mm heavy gun for use on Royal Navy warships in support of land forces; what is the value of those contracts; what is the total requirement for such a gun; and what is the expected timescale to bring it into service. [HL5357]
The Defence Technology and Innovation Centre awarded a £8.1 million contract to CORDA (a wholly owned subsidiary of BAE Systems) which allocated tasks to BAE Land Systems and QinetiQ to research the feasibility and associated technology requirement for the Army's 155mm ordnance to be fitted to the current Royal Navy 4.5 inch gun mount. This work stemmed from earlier analysis and feasibility studies carried out on four candidate naval gun systems:
USA—BAE Land and Armament Systems (formerly United Defense) Mk 45 Mod 4 127mm (5 inch) gun;
UK—BAE systems (RO Defence) 155mm (6.1 inch) third Generation Maritime Fire Support Proposal;
Italy—OTO Melara 127mm (5 inch) lightweight gun; and
Germany—MONARC 155mm (6.1 inch) naval gun.
These systems are candidate solutions to address the MoD's requirements for a coastal suppression and naval fire support capability. The earlier analysis indicated that there would be cost and capability benefits of a 155mm gun solution but that further technological investigation would be required to support the technology. Work is currently under way to build a trials gun mount and firing trials are scheduled to take place on an MoD range next year.
If the trials are successful, the MoD will have an option to proceed further towards manufacture and fit.