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Leonardo is to supply the Japanese Ministry of Defence (MoD) with long-range, precision-guided Vulcano 155 mm munitions, the company revealed at DSEI Japan 2023, held in Tokyo from 15 to 17 March 2023.  

The Vulcano rounds will be used by the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force’s (JGSDF’s) Type 99 155 mm self-propelled howitzers and Type 19 155 mm self-propelled howitzers. A consignment of Vulcano rounds has been requested in Japan’s Financial Year 2023 (FY2023) defence budget for testing and trial purposes. The value and volume of the procurement has not yet been disclosed, but trials are expected to run until FY2025 or FY2026, after which a decision will be made as to whether the Vulcano rounds will enter service with JGSDF artillery units.  

If the Vulcano ammunition is adopted, it will be the first precision-guided ammunition system to be used by JGSDF artillery. The MoD previously developed a precision-guided 155 mm round with Komatsu as the main contractor, but the project did not reach production. 

Leonardo is to supply long-range, precision-guided Vulcano 155 mm munitions to the JGSDF, initially for trials purposes. (Photo: S Kiyotani)

The Vulcano system is a joint development by Leonardo and Diehl and exists in the 76 mm, 127 mm and 155 mm calibres. There are two ammunition types: an unguided long-range Ballistic Extended Range (BER) round and a Guided Long Range (GLR) round. The BER round has a maximum range of 50 km, while the GLR round has a maximum range of 70 km. 

Using an inertial navigation system (INS) and GPS, the GLR round is capable of a circular error probability CEP) of less than 5 m. It has semi-active sensors that function in the final phase of flight and a terminal guidance capability that can also target moving objects. The GLR round’s fuse can also be programmed to optimise the round’s explosive effect.

Shinichi Kiyotani