World first for West Head Gunnery Range

This article has photo gallery Published on SBLT Kat Mulheron (author), LSIS Dove Smithett (photographer)

Topic(s): Training, West Head Gunnery Range

Weapons Electrical Engineering Officer, Lieutenant Commander Jacqueline Dew, RAN (left), and Chief Petty Officer Electronics Technician Dean Blanchard (right) at the upgraded MK3E Combat Management System in the Operations Room of West Head Gunnery Range during a test firing of the 76mm Gun, Flinders, Victoria. (photo: LSIS Dove Smithett)
Weapons Electrical Engineering Officer, Lieutenant Commander Jacqueline Dew, RAN (left), and Chief Petty Officer Electronics Technician Dean Blanchard (right) at the upgraded MK3E Combat Management System in the Operations Room of West Head Gunnery Range during a test firing of the 76mm Gun, Flinders, Victoria.

Residents, avid surfers, keen golfers and mariners in Flinders, Victoria, were recently treated to a world- first, witnessing the firing of a 76mm medium calibre gun integrated with a SAAB Mk3e Combat Management System and CEA CEAFAR phased array radar from West Head Gunnery Range.

The range has been used by the Royal Australian Navy since 1959 as Navy's live fire gunnery training facility for close range and medium calibre gunnery.

To the lay person a really big gun was fired, which made a very impressive sound and it looked spectacular, but what’s just as impressive is what it takes to make that happen.

The Operations Room at West Head Gunnery Range during a test firing of the 76mm Gun using the upgraded MK3E Combat Management System, Flinders, Victoria.

The Operations Room at West Head Gunnery Range during a test firing of the 76mm Gun using the upgraded MK3E Combat Management System, Flinders, Victoria.

Navy continues to advance its capabilities on many levels and is ensuring the equipment and training it provides its people are the best available to meet their mission.

As part of replacing the obsolete M22 Gunnery Fire Control System, Defence and industry partners collaborated on the design and installation of a new medium calibre training system for the Royal Australian Navy.

Lieutenant Commander Peter Arnold, Officer in Charge West Head Gunnery Range, said that as technology advanced, so did the needs of Navy training.

“As our ships become more sophisticated and capable, such as the Air Warfare Destroyers and Landing Helicopter Dock ships, we need to adjust our training to ensure we maximise the capability of both crew and ship,” he said.

“The Combat Management System created to support the training and firing of the 76mm gun enables us to provide realistic firing practices in a safe and controlled environment.”

The training system comprises four commercial off-the-shelf consoles, latest combat management software, and single face phased array radar that all integrates to operate the 76mm gun.

This combination is a world first and following a successful Maritime Armament Review Board, chaired by Captain William Martin, Navy's Training Authority Maritime Warfare, the system was authorised for live-firing certification trials.

Trials involved a series of firings against a computer generated target to prove system integration, and culminated in a shoot against a real target towed by a Defence Maritime Service support vessel. Firing at a range of 12 kilometres, the new system proved very accurate and reliable.

Commander David Goble, Head, Maritime Warfare - South said the successful trial will lead to the next phase, where the new system and training will, from September this year, support Principal Warfare Officer and Fire Control Officer training.

“Introduction of this new training system marks a big stride into the future for West Head Gunnery Range and brings a closer link with Fleet units utilising common equipment suites,” he said.