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French Navy protects cargo ship by destroying four Houthi drones.

| Naval News Navy 2024

According to information published by the French MoD on March 9, 2024, a multi-mission frigate patrolling the Gulf of Aden as part of the European operation ASPIDES detected and destroyed four combat drones. These drones, approaching in a tactical formation and identified as coming from Yemen, were neutralized by the frigate and French fighter jets in an act of self-defense.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 Firing the 76 mm OTO Melara gun from the FREMM frigate. (Picture source: French MoD)

The incident ensured the safety of the cargo ship TRUE CONFIDENCE, flying under the Barbados flag, which had been attacked on March 6 and was being towed, as well as other merchant ships in the area.

This operation is part of efforts to maintain security along the maritime passage stretching from the Suez Canal to the Strait of Hormuz, under the EU-led mission EUVNAVFOR ASPIDES launched on February 19.

About the OTO Melara 76 mm

It has an empty weight of 7.5 tonnes (17,000 lb) and a barrel that is 62 calibers long, or 4,724.4 mm (186.00 in). Designed for remote control, the system does not require a crew for manual operations, which can contribute to operational efficiency and safety.

This artillery piece utilizes 76×636mmR shells, with the cartridges weighing 12.5 kilograms (28 lb) and the shells themselves at 6.3 kilograms (14 lb). The propellant for each round weighs 2.35 kilograms (5.2 lb), and the system's caliber is set at 76.2 mm (3.00 in). It can adjust its elevation from −15° to +85°, allowing for engagement with targets across a broad spectrum of angles.

The system's traverse is capable of a full 360° rotation, with a speed of 60°/s and an acceleration rate of 72°/s². Its elevation speed is 35°/s, with the same acceleration, facilitating rapid target engagement.

Depending on the model, the OTO Melara 76 mm's rate of fire can be 85 rounds per minute for the Compact version or up to 120 rounds per minute for the Super Rapid variant.

The muzzle velocity of the rounds is 915 m/s (3,000 ft/s), supporting engagement with targets at considerable distances. The effective range varies by ammunition type: HE-PFF rounds can reach 16,000 m, SAPOMER rounds up to 20,000 m, and VULCANO rounds can extend to 40,000 m.

The system is equipped with a magazine capable of holding 80 ready rounds for the Compact gun mount, aiming to ensure a consistent rate of fire during operations.

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