The contract follows two previous study phases undertaken in 2007.
According to BAE Systems, replacing the Royal Navy’s existing 4.5 inch gun with a 155mm system would increase range and effectiveness while streamlining and reducing the cost of logistics by using the same gun and ammunition as the British Army.
Samir Patel, business development director for CORDA, said: ‘Our previous work in this area showed real potential for an enhanced gun system on the Navy’s ships.
‘This contract will allow more concentrated research and a live, land-based firing trial in 2009 will inform further developments on the programme.’
John Kelly of BAE Systems’ Land Systems, added: ‘In addition to providing the Royal Navy with a potential low-cost route to a significant enhancement in capability, this programme will help to sustain the UK industrial capacity to design, upgrade and manufacture artillery and gunnery systems in compliance with the Defence Industrial Strategy and partnering arrangements.’
During previous study phases, CORDA examined the feasibility of fitting the gun and ammunition systems from an AS90 self-propelled howitzer system onto the existing 4.5 inch Mk8 MoD 1 gun mounting structure.
The next step for the programme, subject to a successful trial, will be a full-scale technology demonstrator programme, leading to possible full manufacture and fit to the Future Surface Combatant and possible retrofit to the existing Type 23 and Type 45 fleet.