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Babcock and BAE Systems have been awarded a five-year contract extension, valued at £43 million (€49.7 million), for continued support for the 4.5in Mk8 medium calibre gun (MCG) for Britain’s Royal Navy (RN), the companies announced on 9 April.

Vessels to be supported include 19 Type 23 frigates and Type 45 destroyers, as well as the HMS Collingwood shore station, where much of the relevant weapon, engineering and warfare training takes place. Babcock has also opted to implement innovative ‘digital twin’ technology to drive an increase in reliability, availability and service life extension. The effort to increase efficiency will also see the roll out of BAE Systems’ design interventions.

Digital ‘twinning’ enables digital connection with the asset, presenting near-real-time insights on the weapon’s status. It combines Babcock proprietary data capture technology and data science capability, augmenting the company’s engineering pedigree in naval gun support, providing on-board maintainers with the information required to optimise maintenance. Further, it provides Babcock with the necessary foresight to predict future faults and proactively intervene to keep the asset operational and available.

The 4.5 MCG is a key weapons system on board the fleet, helping to keep personnel safe during operations. By creating a digital twin to better predict performance and define maintenance requirements, we are delivering real-world use of technology for our customer. It’s an exciting new era for the 4.5 MCG and with our proven track record, expertise and capability on this programme, it means we can effectively maintain asset availability for our customer,” commented Babcock Marine CEO, Will Erith.

The 4.5in MCG provides invaluable modern naval gunnery capabilities for the majority of the RN’s surface combat fleet. (Photo: Crown copyright)

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