New Supersonic Bullet is Almost Ready for Prime Time

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By Debbie Gregory.

Long-range, gun-launched, high-velocity and hypervelocity projectile (HVP) technologies are highly desired as potential cost-effective solutions for force protection and ballistic missile defense applications.   Now, the Department of Defense is preparing to test-fire its next-generation HVP within the next year, a development that could significantly augment that Pentagon’s existing missile defense systems.

HVP has been in development for more than a decade.

The high-velocity, compact design relieves the need for a rocket motor to extend gun range. Firing smaller, more accurate rounds improves danger close/collateral damage requirements and provides potential for deeper magazines and improved shipboard safety.

HVP program manager Vincent Sabio said that the shell is engineered to defeat several different threats, and could offer a lost-cost alternative to the standard Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) interceptors.

The Navy’s Integrated Warfare Systems office put the cost of an HVP around $85,000. Although the price tag is higher than previous 2016 estimates of between $35,000 and $50,000, it still is a significant savings over the cost of a single PAC-3.

The new HVP will also offer a major tactical boost for forces downrange.

“We need to be able to address (all) types of threats: subsonic, supersonic; sea-skimming, land-hugging; coming in from above and dropping down on top of us,” said Sabio. “There are many different trajectories that we need to be able to deal with that we… cannot deal with effectively today.”

Another advantage is that the next-generation HVP projectiles could end up firing from the Army’s 155 mm howitzers or the 5-inch deck guns aboard Navy destroyers and cruisers.

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