New Navy Railgun Tests Leading to Ship Superweapon by 2020

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Quigley_Sharps, Mar 1, 2012.


  1. Quigley_Sharps

    Quigley_Sharps The Badministrator Administrator Founding Member

    The first weapon-scale prototype of a futuristic Navy railgun began undergoing firing tests last week, the next big step toward putting the electromagnetic superweapon on U.S. warships by 2020. The Navy envisions using railguns to destroy enemy ships, defend against enemy missiles, or bombard land targets in support of Marines hitting the beaches.
    Newly released video shows the prototype railgun using an electric-powered launcher rather than gunpowder to fire a huge hypersonic bullet in a cloud of flame and smoke. The Office of Naval Research hopes its new test phase — scheduled to last until 2017 — leads to a Navy weapon capable of hurling 40-pound projectiles at speeds of 4,500 mph to 5,600 mph over 50 to 100 miles (7,240 to 9,010 kilometers per hour over 80 to 161 kilometers).
    The full-size prototype, made by BAE Systems, "looks like a real gun," said Roger Ellis, program manager for the railgun at the Office of Naval Research, during a media teleconference today (Feb. 28). Previous tests involved clunky laboratory prototypes that would never see action aboard a Navy warship.
    U.S. Navy commanders ultimately want a weapon capable of firing up to 10 guided projectiles per minute at targets up to 100 miles away. Navy warships currently have 5-inch guns capable of firing at distances of 13 miles.
    "There is potential to replace the 5-inch gun, but it would do far more," Ellis said in response to an InnovationNewsDaily question. The railgun could hit the same distant targets that Navy missiles strike today, he said.
    A second railgun prototype, built by General Atomics, is set to arrive for testing in April, Ellis said. Having railguns built by different companies gives the Navy a choice if it ultimately decides to deploy the superweapon.
    Both General Atomics and BAE Systems committed millions of their own dollars during the first $240 million test phase, which recently ended. The newly begun Phase II is funded at about the same amount. It is testing prototypes capable of harnessing 32 megajoules of energy. Just one megajoule would be enough to throw a 1-ton car 100 mph.
    During the five years of Phase II, the Navy plans to test cooling systems and a battery that could store the energy required by the railgun. It has contracted with General Atomics, BAE Systems and Raytheon for designs for a pulsed power system.
    Because of its hypersonic speed produced by the railgun, a projectile shaped like a bullet could deliver devastating damage even without exploding. It could include electronic guidance systems such as GPS that would be protected against the immense heat of the giant bullet's hypersonic passage.
    "The rounds we are firing currently are non-aerodynamic slugs," Ellis said of the testing. "They match the interior ballistics of what the launcher is expected to see but are intended to slow down quickly."
    If all goes well, the Navy could end up equipping its ships with railguns of all different sizes. Companies such as General Atomics have already built smaller railguns for their own testing purposes.
    "We believe this is game-changing technology, and in our case we've invested internal funds of more than $20 million for a subscale prototype to move the technology forward," said Tom Hurn, director of railgun programs at San Diego-based General Atomics.

    New Navy Railgun Tests Leading to Ship Superweapon by 2020 - Yahoo! News
     
  2. ghrit

    ghrit Ambulatory anachronism Administrator Founding Member

    Someone is going to ask what all the smoke and flame is about since there are no explosives involved. It's plasma from the electrical discharge. Google was my friend.
     
  3. tacmotusn

    tacmotusn Mosquito Sailor

    All that clunky square crap is impressive, but at long range they are going to have to have something spin stabilized if it is merely a projectile, and not guided. If that square crap is neccessary maybe it could house a multipiece sabot and a dense finned big damn flechette .......
     
  4. ghrit

    ghrit Ambulatory anachronism Administrator Founding Member

    Yep, that is acknowledged someplace in the data. Those weird shaped slugs are test pieces designed to lose KE faster for testing purposes.
     
  5. Cephus

    Cephus Monkey+++ Founding Member

    The first railgun patten was issued in 1922 ,It's taken awhile to get this far !! I didn't know that the Germans had one in WWII ,but it took to much power to run it !! A ship seems to be the only thing large enough to have the power and the gun rolled into one !! For now that is !!
     
  6. Seawolf1090

    Seawolf1090 Adventure Riding Monkey Founding Member


    DANG!! Ya beat me to it....... ;)

    So, what happens when the ship's powerplant is on the fritz.....?

    NO big gun......
     
    tulianr likes this.
  7. ghrit

    ghrit Ambulatory anachronism Administrator Founding Member

    Dead in the water, too.
    Those things are apt to be capacitor driven rather than by direct connection to generators. The case for electric motor propulsion is getting better, even if it is slightly more complex and less efficient than reduction gears. Sharing of the available generator output should be easier than trying to split steam flow.
     
  8. VisuTrac

    VisuTrac Ваша мать носит военные ботинки Site Supporter+++

    Approximately 1.4 miles per second. SWEET!!!
    Also sweet that I don't have to pay the electrical bill
    well at least until the gov't signs off on the project then we all pay for it.
     
  9. Cephus

    Cephus Monkey+++ Founding Member

    I'll bet it has it's own reactor just to power it and a spare for just in case ,ya never only carry one mag !!!
     
  10. Seawolf1090

    Seawolf1090 Adventure Riding Monkey Founding Member

    Yep, the Navy has deactivated all steam-driven combat vessels - maybe a few old steam auxillaries remain? All smaller combat ships are now turbine, and the carriers and subs are all nukes.
     
  11. UGRev

    UGRev Get on with it!

    Aren't the nuclear vessels still just indirect steam engines? nuclear fission heats up water.. steam drives turbine etc etc..
     
  12. ghrit

    ghrit Ambulatory anachronism Administrator Founding Member

    Yes. Wolfie is pointing out that indirect fossil fired steam turbines are no longer being built. Smaller vessels are using direct fired gas turbines, and capital ships are using steam turbines with nuclear steam generators.
     
    Seawolf1090 likes this.
  13. Seawolf1090

    Seawolf1090 Adventure Riding Monkey Founding Member

    Yup. In my Navy Daze, it could take all day to go from cold boiler to 'weigh anchor'! Had to build up that head of steam.
    Now the turbine ships just power up like a jet plane and sail on! Makes a 'fast reaction force' a true reality.
     
  14. UGRev

    UGRev Get on with it!

    Sooo.. I've always loved this thought that we really never left the age of steam completely..lol
     
  15. Seawolf1090

    Seawolf1090 Adventure Riding Monkey Founding Member

    Probably why the "Steam Punk" genre has been so lasting...... just something so cool about hot steam! ;)

    Being 'old school', I do lament the retirement and selling/scrapping of the older steam-powered ships (ALL my class of frigate are gone now), but it did have serious limitations. Technology progresses onwards......
     
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