RNLN air-defence frigates to receive new 127/64 LW guns

The Dutch MoD’s Defence Materiel Organisation (DMO) formally announced the contract award to Leonardo on 21 April. The 127/64 LW guns will be retrofitted to the four LCF frigates during scheduled maintenance periods, with the programme expected to complete in 2025–26.

The Royal Netherlands Navy’s (RNLN’s) four De Zeven Provinciën-class air-defence and command frigates (LCFs) are to be refitted with a new 127/64 LW Vulcano 127 mm medium-calibre gun system supplied by Leonardo (formerly Oto Melara).

include a new automated ammunition handling system and a naval fire support mission planning tool. The 127/64 Lightweight will confer the LCFs with the ability to fire extended-range, precision-guided Vulcano munitions, as well as conventional ammunition.

All four LCF frigates are currently equipped with the earlier Oto Melara 127/54 Compact gun, all of which were acquired second-hand from Canada after being removed from Tribal-class destroyers. According to the Netherlands Ministry of Defence (MoD), these mountings have now exceeded their 30-year design life and are increasingly unreliable and difficult to support. Furthermore, the current ammunition handling system is not compliant with modern working practices.

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In its justification for the purchase of a replacement 127 mm gun, the MoD said that any further upgrade or life extension of the existing guns would not be cost effective given the age of the guns, their declining reliability, and the reducing availability of spares. The 127 mm replacement programme was therefore established to deliver a new medium-calibre gun system together with a semi-automatic ammunition handling system, the adaptation of the magazine, and associated integrated logistic support.

The new ammunition-handling system will use four revolving drum magazines each holding 14 ready-to-fire rounds (any mix of both Vulcano and conventional rounds).

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