More Precision for Navy Guns

U.S. Navy combat ships equipped with 5-inch guns are about to get more lethal. Next fall, ATK will begin delivering the new Multi-Option Fuze, Navy, or MOFN, for ammunition fired from MK 45 weapon systems.

Army Contracting Command just awarded ATK a five-year contract worth $84 million to produce the MK 437 MOFN for the Navy. The Army’s Joint Products Office manages the program for the Navy.

These specialized fuzes provide proximity, precision time, delay and point detonating impact options in a single fuze, ATK officials maintain. The inductive fuze setting feature also optimizes MOFN for use with automated ammunition handling equipment.  MOFN will be used on projectiles fired in the MK 45 Single Lightweight Gun Mount on Navy cruisers and destroyers.

“ATK is pleased to add MOFN to our portfolio of fuze production programs.  MOFN leverages ATK’s design, development and production experience, providing the U.S. Navy with an affordable, reliable fuze for its 5/54 caliber ammunition,” said Dave Fine, ATK’s Director of Fuzing and Warhead programs, in a recent ATK press release.

The first order on this contract is for approximately $13 million; deliveries are scheduled to begin in November 2013.

Production of this fuze will occur at the Allegany Ballistics Laboratory facility in Rocket Center, W. Va.  The lab is a U.S. Navy-owned, ATK-operated facility specializing in advanced manufacturing technologies for a variety of programs supporting current and future U.S. industrial base needs in advanced fuzing and integration, conventional munitions assemblies, solid rocket motor propulsion, and advanced material structures.

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Matt Cox
Matthew Cox is a reporter at He can be reached at
  • Lance

    Good for having new high tech aiming system. But why stick with such small 5 inch guns?? If we must invest into guns how about a bit larger 10 or 14 inch gun??

  • Rob

    Will make the Navy’s new Zumwalt gunships even more powerful………

    • William_C1

      The Zumwalt class have two 155mm (6.1in) guns for naval gunfire support. For better or worse the 155mm AGS is something of a hybrid gun/missile launcher. The standard 155mm LRLAP is precision guided with a max range somewhere between 130 and 180 kilometers.

      Back when DD21 was expected to produce 32 ships, these destroyers would have been the effective replacement for the fire-support capabilities of the Iowa class battleships. Yet in the end we’re down to three ships of the current DDG-1000 design which only have 600 or so ready rounds between the two guns, with another 300 in some storeroom.

      Something is better than nothing, but I’m not certain what ability (if any) the AGS has to engage other targets like small boats, etc. The 5in (127mm) caliber and its foreign counterparts (Russian 130mm) is generally considered the upper limit for a “dual purpose” design with some ability to engage aircraft. In an age of missiles however, something is terribly wrong if an enemy aircraft gets within gun range.

  • blight_

    Do we expect to do a lot of navy shore fire support missions?

    • Mastro

      Probably not- since the Zumwalt was so cut back.

      Guns are still good for blowing up simple stuff- like Iranian oil platforms or troops within 10 miles of a coastline.

      The $13 million cost is a joke compared to any missile program we have.

      • blight_

        I certainly would be nervous putting ships in gun range without knowing for sure that enemy anti-ship missiles are out of the question, and by then you need long range to strike inland more than you need guns for close-in work.

      • BBwarrior

        Guns used to be good for blowing up stuff within 20+ miles of a coastline! Served on Mighty Mo’ during Op Desert Shield/Storm as GM. Miss those 16in/50’s!

    • Musson

      Accuracy is good. But, I believe the Navy is looking toward rail guns as the future of long range gunnery.

    • PolicyWonk

      Doubtful. Arms manufacturers don’t like guns – they’re way too cheap. Missiles are far more profitable.

    • Ken

      why is every weapon systems in the navy being expected to do extensive damage to the enemies? offshore firing and these bs? What about for the ship’s own safety? Suicidal boats and other suicidal objects anyone? You guys really want the navy to use million dollar tomahawk every time a boat gets near? just a few million dollars for this extra protection is reasonable for a destroyer or cruiser that costs billions of dollars.

    • DHH

      To all the fools who are wondering why there is a gun when there are missiles, think about it this way: Why do soldiers carry a pistol when they’ve got their rifles and machine guns?

    • Dennis

      Actually the Chinese have put a listening post on Tarawa Island (ring a bell, go Marines) Their strategy is also like the Japanese in WW2 to have a defense perimeter using Pacific Islands. I think Naval gunfire support will be possibly needed.
      To me bring back the Battleships and put the new rail gun on them with rocket/gps assisted shells.

      • blight_

        “On 29 November 2003, China severed diplomatic relations with the Pacific island of Kiribati, following a decision three weeks earlier by President Anote Tong’s government to formally recognized Taiwan as a country. Three days prior, China verbally threatened to break ties with Kiribati, along with physical warnings of its seriousness by quickly dismantling its satellite tracking base, withdrawing its doctors from the medical facility, and halting construction on a sports stadium. China had previously claimed the importance of the tracking station, one of three Chinese stations overseas, that played a big role in its first manned space mission. Media reports indicate that the site may have also been used to monitor the U.S. missile range at Kwajalein atoll in the Marshall Islands. After the diplomatic break, China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp. reported that “the loss of diplomatic relations will not affect the country’s space missions or the launch of the Shenzhou VI” and a new facility could be built in the region.”

        New stations now are Namibia, Kenya and Pakistan.

  • oldtimer

    Still using 5-inch popguns after all these years? Wow. I sure hope they are more reliable than they were when I was on the USS Virginia (CGN-38) back in the 80s. If they were fired more than a handful of times, they seemed to break down pretty often. My recollection is that we didn’t have a lot of confidence in them at all.

    Not only that, but what happened to plans to upgrade to 155mm, something with some real bang? Seems to me that the Navy has always gotten the short end of the fiscal stick when it comes to funding.

  • Jim

    could these be put to any use against swarms of small ships/fast boats?

  • davidz

    I always wondered how electrothermal gun would work on ships, without severe size and power restrictions of a tank. For me, this seems like reasonable stop-gap before railguns.

    • William_C1

      I think the Navy tested some ETC designs but they were looking at them more as an option for a CIWS rather than a replacement for a destroyer or cruisers 5 inch gun.

  • Matt

    The real use for a fused round like this would probably be anti small boat swarm work. The HEAT and KEET rounds were specifically for that. If I can set it for timed fused (burst over a group) or prox fused so I just need to get close to a small boat that really improves my odds when fighting a 100+ of IRGN suicide boats. Plus the time delay means I might be able to drop a 5″ shell in the water by a midget sub periscope and really ruin their day.

  • Big-Dean

    there’s a need for both
    -ships can carry lots and lots of shells if they wish
    -gun are much better for close in action <12 miles
    -guns and shells are much cheaper than missiles
    -shells cannot be spoofed, once they are fire there's nothing that can stop them
    -you don't waste missiles on smaller or less value targets
    -shells can be reloaded at sea
    -guns systems are still more common than missile systems on the world's navies

    -are best for over the horizon/long range attacks
    -are best for high value targets
    -missiles can be used to disable an enemy ship beyond their range to strike you, then you can move in close and finish them off with cheaper shells
    -but numbers are limited on board and you can't reload at ship

    • Thomas L. Nielsen

      “shells cannot be spoofed”

      If the shell uses a (radar or IR based) proximity fuze, it will be susceptible to jamming (although it can of course be designed to be resistant to it).

      Regards & all,

      Thomas L. Nielsen

    • Rob

      I feel there needs to be 3.

      Multiple water cannons on all seacraft.
      – Last resort, short range, missle & surface torpedo/mine deflection
      – Maybe even some protection from incoming bullets or shrapnel
      – Fire suppessors for the entire fleet & it’s bases even.
      – Civilian vessel deterrent

      I know Some ships have them but due to the fact most of our navy is in a defensive posture and the simplicity of motion sensors activating the blast of sea water. Amp it up now.

    • Marc

      Back in the 60s we UNREPed SM-1 missiles.

  • George Gauthier

    Why complain now about five inch guns when the story is about how this standard naval rifle has become even more effective with a triple threat fuze that can be set by automatic loading equipment.
    Groan, if you must, about the lack of 8 inch cruisers or battleships with larger calibers,
    but not in the context of what seems to this old (Army) artilleryman a significant improvement in naval gunfire for the ships we now have at sea.

    • BBwarrior

      We shall see if its really an improvement or not. Remember the navy sometimes lacks resolve in risking these 5in ships close to shore. During Desert Storm, my ship risked mine and SSM strikes to provide NSFS to ground pounders and to service other targets. Zummy’s may be the game changer, as they dont have to close with the shore with those AGS 155’s

  • joe

    16″ guns were needed because targets were protected by a foot of class B armour plate. Now they aren’t.

    As a tactical artillery piece, a modern 5″ gun is still a bloody good weapon.

  • Robert

    I think it’s funny how proud they are over a modified M739A.

    • SJE

      “Modified” has a lot of wiggle room, and can be the difference between effectiveness and not effective.

      In any case, this site covers all tech.

  • T. W. Martin

    This is nothing new artillery has had a MOFA fuse in the works for years. Go 155mm with the vast array of different artillery projectiles and now we are talking. Add liquid propellant or just the new MACS charge and you wood have a system that is DOD wide. How about naval MRLS. Cut costs and standerdise. There won’t be any ships left soon too put them on.

    • CaptDJ

      I assume you mean MLRS. The problem is that the rockets are built to an entirely different set of requirements and are not suitable for shipboard use. The first requirement for shipboard munitions is that you can suffer a restrained rocket launch in the magazine and not lose the ship. With MLRS, if you have a restrained rocket launch you run away , you can’t do that at sea. The MLRS design criteria for vibration, temperature and storage are also not suitable for maritime use. They are built to be dragged over dirt roads, not to take the pitch, roll and yaw of sea state 5 and above. The mismatch goes on and on. As for 5 inch, sure they don’t work if you never exercise them. i used to shoot my guns at every opportunity, and they worked fine. Practice and training makes them a very effective weapon. They laughed when I asked for permission to shoot at the target hulk, they stopped laughing when it started to sink…..

  • Stan
  • Hunter76

    I don’t get all this starry-eyed nostalgia for shore bombardment. In WW2– sure it created enemy casualties– but huge US fleets pounded the s*** out of small Pacific islands for days, but in every case, when the Marines finally landed, the Japanese sprang up and offered tough, organized defense. Digging in is a cheap, effective defense against bombardment.

  • Rich

    Any next land battle requiring fire support will be in Korea. We’ll be facing either the North Koreans OR the North Koreans and Chinese.
    Any surprise attack launched by China against Kadena, Guam and assorted carrier groups would likely be preceded by a North Korean invasion of the South.
    After a few months, when the U.S. and allies have depleted ammo stocks and equipment, then the Chinese will attack on all fronts: land-sea-air-space.
    Bet on it within 15 years. That’s why we need REAL guns for REAL shore support.

  • Hunter76

    So, your dream is US and China fighting a full scale conventional war in 15 yrs?

  • Mark Varry

    There are some scenarios that show China’s economy having grown to the point where China is in direct conflict with the USA for resources. That is the point where predictions of hostilities arise from.

  • doningram

    the concept of war with china within 15 years is interesting. do you think china will let the banks have enough money to participate in a confrontation with them or does a confrontation with china make the USA have to borrow more money from them (with a higher interest rate) ? i do not see a confrontation with china in the future, it could happen, anything is possible. the 5″ gun does some great work and needs to be kept around especially the 5/54, hope all the 5/38 are gone.

    • SJE

      I see proxy wars more likely. You are already seeing that, to some extent, in Africa and Middle East.

  • TJJ

    I still say the Navy should bring back the USS Iowa and USS Wisconsin battleships with there big 16 inch guns!!!

  • Tulsa Mike

    I would want 16″ guns cause they don’t make 17’s! :-)

  • GMGCChapman

    I worked on the Mk45 Mod 0 Gun System the last half of my Naval career. The system was pretty reliable.The Mod 1 was being set up for trainning when I transfered from Naval Gunnery School,Great Lakes,Il. in 1984.The 5″ was ok, but I believe the 8″/55 Light Weight system should have been kept and further developed.The Spruance class ships were set up for the 8″ forward and the 5″ aft.would have been a much better platform,but had to play nice,and not build any Cruisers at the time.
    The Iowa class battleships are a no brainner on bringing them back.With the current

    • Cecil

      If you really want to talk good guns, then the 7/55 is one of the best. It originated in the US but fired too fast and meltrf thr barrels. It was sold to Canada, where they slowed the rate of fire and now it is their mainstay weapon for smaller ships (DDS).

    • blight_“/55_caliber_M…

      “At-sea technical evaluation occurred aboard Hull in 1975, and operational testing followed through 1976. The Operational Test and Evaluation Force determined inaccuracy made the gun operationally unsuitable, and concluded the lightweight 8″/55 was no more effective than the 5″/54 (with Rocket Assisted Projectiles). The report recommended against production or installation of the lightweight 8″/55, and program funding was terminated in 1978. SAL GP development continued.”

      Probably had the same CEP at range, but if you’re using RAP your explosive payload drops.

  • Roland

    The mystery question behind it is will it sink the enemy ship by one bullet?

  • wpnexp

    The title is mis-leading. These fuzes will do nothing for precision fires, but will allow for better effects on target, if it manages to hit the target.

    • anon

      also helps to consolidate fuze types and make the best use of magazine size.