Surface Forces: August 17, 2004


Oto Melara is hyping its new sabot-based 76mm round designed for the guns it has sold to navies around the globe. Called Ammunition Reduced Time of Flight (ART), the round has a tungsten-iron core dart held by a sabot, and weighs in at 7.5 pounds with a diameter of 42mm. Like any sabot tank round, the dart flies a faster and flatter trajectory and is so accurate the company is claiming it is effective as a non-lethal weapon. ART is so "good" that it can supposedly disable the rudder on a ship without sinking it or injuring the crew. Company flacks are spinning the round as a useful weapon for use in the Proliferation Security Initiative to stop ships smuggling weapons of mass destruction. It is also being touted as an ideal round for defense against suicide boats, with ART being able to disable them without detonating their explosives.

The Italian navy funded development of the round and has ordered 400 rounds at a cost of $1,960 per round. Oto Melara says the ART can be scaled up to any size, including 5-inch naval guns. It is also offering a derivative with a 6.5 pound high-explosive payloads for use against aircraft, surface ships and other targets. Another derivative on the drawing board would put a guidance computer on the tail of the round along with steering canards on the nose. It would "ride" the beam from the gun's fire control radar to hit the target.

Over a thousand Oto Melara 76mm guns have been installed on the warships of over 51 nations, including the U.S. Navy's Perry-class frigates and Coast Guard cutters. It is capable of firing at a rate of 120 rounds per minute and hitting targets to a range of 18 kilometers. Doug Mohney


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