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BAE Systems has received a contract to deliver multiple shipsets of the Mk 45 Medium Caliber Gun and automated Ammunition Handling System (AHS) for the Royal Australian Navy’s new Hunter-class frigates, the company announced on 15 November 2023.

The Mk 45 gun system will equip the Royal Australian Navy with a common, adaptable gun system that can easily integrate advanced munitions to provide the firepower required to meet the Hunter class’ deterrence mission.

The Mk 45 gun system combines the 5-inch, 62-calibre Mk 45 Mod 4A naval gun with a fully automated AHS that continuously supplies the gun with ammunition, in high sea state conditions, without assistance from the crew. This automated gun system increases the operational capability of the Mk 45 at sea while reducing risk to personnel.

A Mk 45 gun being fired from the US Navy destroyer USS Mason in April 2016. The weapon will arm Australia’s future Hunter-class frigates. (Photo: US Navy)

“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,” Brent Butcher, vice president and general manager of Weapon Systems at BAE Systems Inc, was quoted as saying in a company press release. “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,” Butcher added.

Work on the contract will begin this year and finish in 2036. Engineering work will be completed in BAE’s facilities in Minneapolis, Minnesota, while production will occur at the company’s site in Louisville, Kentucky.

The Australian government selected BAE Systems’ Type 26 frigate to fulfil its Hunter-class frigate requirement in June 2018. Three ships have been ordered so far, although nine are expected to enter service from 2031.