Russia’s AK-130 Naval ‘Cannon’ Could Kill a Navy Destroyer or a ‘Swarm’

The AK-130 naval gun is one of the most formidable artillery pieces afloat today. However, it had a long and troubled development period, mostly due to the stagnation of Soviet shipboard artillery research and its massive weight. However, once fielded it proved itself to be an extremely rapid weapon, attaining rates of fire of upwards of sixty rounds per minute of 130-millimeter shells. But why did Soviet naval doctrine call for such a monster of a gun? Is it still relevant today?

The Soviet desire for an automatic large-caliber cannon began in World War II. Soviet gunners felt that the low rates of fire offered by 100–130-millimeter cannons of the era limited the effectiveness of such guns in the antiaircraft role. As a result, after the war, in 1952–55, various prototypes of automatic cannons that used the recoil energy to automatically cycle the next cartridge were designed. They were fed by multiple cylindrical ammo drums. Further guns of this type were meant to be developed and fielded in the shipbuilding program from 1956 to 1965; however, Nikita Khrushchev forbade the work on all shipborne cannons of a caliber greater than seventy-six millimeters in an order in 1957. Large-caliber cannons on Soviet ships remained slow and inefficient for almost another decade, lagging behind British, American, Swedish and Italian designs. Finally, in 1967 the order was given to begin work once more on automatic large-caliber cannons.

written by Charlie Gao
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