Home' Defence Review Asia : DRA March April 2010 Contents 44 > DefenceReviewAsia
Along with problems such illegal fishing, smuggling and offshore attacks
on national territories and resources, the threat of piracy is combated within
national waters by armed force maritime patrol by Naval or Coast Guard
vessels and aircraft - including surveillance and reconnaissance assets
The growing threat of offshore terrorism is more of a concern for most
western nations than piracy, but a consideration of both has led to a major
boom in maritime patrol assets in order to increase the security capabilities
of Naval forces and ensure the protection and defence of Economic
Exclusion Zones (EEZs).
The 2008 Mumbai hotel attacks, in which terrorists entered India via a
hijacked fishing vessel, highlighted the need for governments to reassess the
requirements of a 21st century Navy, and give consideration to smaller, more
flexible assets in stead of – or in addition to - larger warship fleets that had
dominated acquisition programmes previously. As a result, governments are
creating layered defences, consisting of vessels of all smaller displacement,
such as Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs) and Fast Attack Craft (FAC), as well
as larger frigates and armed maritime helicopter fleets for surveillance,
patrol and reconnaissance.
While refuelling in a Yemini port, the Cole – one of the most advanced
cruisers in the US Navy - was targeted by a small group of suicide bombers
in an explosive-laden speedboat who killed 17 sailors and injuring 39 in
the subsequent explosion. As result, the market to arm these vessels with
weapons capable of ensuring the safety of crew, the defence of coastal areas
and protection of civilian vessels, has been growing rapidly for several years.
A number of arms manufacturers are producing light naval gun systems
in a specific effort to counter these emerging non-traditional surface threats.
With a range of 2.5 kilometres, Rheinmetall’s MLG 27 light naval gun is
one such system, designed specifically for arming small surface combatants
and support vessels. Firing at 1,700 rpm, the system is able to engage fixed-
wing aircraft, helicopters, speedboats and onshore targets, using a highly
dynamic gun carriage, modern optronic sensors and advanced ammunition
technology that allow it to track even agile, fast-moving targets. The MLG
27 does not require deck-penetration, giving simple installation for a wide
range of ship and boat classes.
The Rheinmetall system has been installed on 55 German Navy vessels,
and is expected to become the standard medium-calibre weapon on
German ships. Rheinmetall has also been contracted under the Foreign
Military Sales (FMS) route to supply the system to arm the Mk V-C fast
interceptor craft that the US Department of Defence is providing to the
In direct competition to the MLG 27 is BAE Systems’ Mk 38 Mod 2
Machine Gun System (MGS). Developed as a spiral derivate from Rafael’s
Typhoon Mk 25, the system is a stabilised, remote control small calibre gun.
With non-penetrating deck design the system can be fitted to any class
of ship of greater than 50 ton displacement. The system uses the M242
Bushmaster 25 mm Chain Gun, with a range of up to 2.5 km.
The gun incorporates the Toplite electro-optical fire control system to allow
successful engagement of targets in all light conditions, via the Toplite 4-axis
gimbal stabilization, forwards-looking infrared radar with three fields-of-
view, low light television camera, and eye-safe laser range finder.
Some nations are unable to even effectively patrol their own waters, making the problem a truly
global one that will require the cooperation of many countries to find a truly effective solution.
The need for military vessels to have effective self-
protecting measures against small, fast moving
attack craft has been a growing requirement over
the past decade, as illustrated by the near sinking
of USS Cole in 2000.
Sailors assigned to U.S. Coast Guard Maritime Safety & Security Team 91114
signal a Somali skiff with suspected pirates to raise their hands.
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