Congress Defunds Railgun and Free Electron Laser

bobbymike

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From Danger Room blog:

The Senate just drove a stake into the Navy’s high-tech heart. The directed energy and electromagnetic weapons intended to protect the surface ships of the future? Terminated.

The Free Electron Laser and the Electromagnetic Railgun are experimental weapons that the Navy hope will one day burn missiles careening toward their ships out of the sky and fire bullets at hypersonic speeds at targets thousands of miles away. Neither will be ready until at least the 2020s, the Navy estimates. But the Senate Armed Services Committee has a better delivery date in mind: never.

The committee approved its version of the fiscal 2012 defense authorization bill on Friday, priced to move at $664.5 billion, some $6.4 billion less than what the Obama administration wanted. The bill “terminates” the Free Electron Laser and the railgun, a summary released by the committee gleefully reports.

“The determination was that the Free Electron Laser has the highest technical risk in terms of being ultimately able to field on a ship, so we thought the Navy could better concentrate on other laser programs,” explains Rick DeBobes, the chief of staff for the committee. “With the Electromagnetic Railgun, the committee felt the technical challenges to developing and fielding the weapon would be daunting, particularly [related to] the power required and the barrel of the gun having limited life.”

Both weapons are apples in the eye of the Office of Naval Research, the mad scientists of the Navy. “We’re fast approaching the limits of our ability to hit maneuvering pieces of metal in the sky with other maneuvering pieces of metal,” its leader, Rear Adm. Nevin Carr, told me in February. The answer, he thinks, is hypersonics and directed energy weapons, hastening “the end of the dominance of the missile,” Adm. Gary Roughead, the top officer in the Navy, told me last month. With China developing carrier-killer missiles and smaller missiles proliferating widely, both weapons would allow the Navy to blunt the missile threat and attack adversaries from vast distances.

http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2011/06/power-down-senate-zaps-navys-superlaser-railgun/#more-49575
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It seems like I was just reading about advancement after advancement of these technologies with people actually estimating possible deployment time lines. I really hope these get funded in the full conference committee mark-up. In the future speed of light weaponry will be crucial for ship defense.
 
Yes, I just read about this on another site a few hours back. God damn, the Senate and Congress is full of MORONS! These combined have only caust about 220 million over the past 6 years, thats chump change. Can't they think of better things to cancel? Although thankfully I have heard this has yet to be approved the the full or majority of the Senate and than it has to pass the house to pass.

Oh, and the total number of F-22s that are going to be bought are 187 with the last one coming off the assembly line late next year. We have lost a couple so far, so I think the number is now around 185.
 
IMHO, BAE Systems are going to be mega-p**ssed at losing the rail-gun work...
 
I'm more concern with the GA's Blitzer, that thing to me seems further along in development than BAE. They've moved to firing sabots instead of bricks.

And given that they've only asked for 60mil, Congress should just ax a single Superhornet from the Navy's requests to fund the railgun. The FEL on the otherhand... While it has the potential, it's just such a huge thing to shrink down. So a 2-3 year halt to FEL funding wouldn't be that bad.
 
I've heard that there might be something called a "debt" that people are worried about.
 
blackstar said:
I've heard that there might be something called a "debt" that people are worried about.

Tough to argue that $220million cut from a projected deficit of $1.65 TRILLION - what is that like 13/100ths of 1 percent or something - (or $3.8 TRILLION budget) is going to save the Republic.

Especially given the purpose of these weapons is to protect multi-billion dollar ships and aircraft carriers. Now I am not saying $220 million is meaningless and cutting is cutting but cutting defense spending on future technologies that will save men and materiel seems like the wrong priority to have.

I understand the GAO released a report that there are over $100 BILLION of improper payments made from the Federal Government to third parties and individuals. You'd think this would be someplace you might find real savings?
 
blackstar said:
I've heard that there might be something called a "debt" that people are worried about.

And you think $60 million will change anything?
 
Yeah, everybody has a favorite really really cool technology that they love. Add them all up and they amount to something. But not all this stuff is practical, and there is this debt thing...
 
Is the threat posed by the Chinese Dongfeng D-21D (CSS-5 Mod-4) anti-ship ballistic missile exaggerated? Are the railgun or the free electron laser the only systems capable of intercepting high hypersonic anti-ship missiles? Can China effectively deny United States aircraft carriers passage through the Taiwan Strait?
 
blackstar said:
Yeah, everybody has a favorite really really cool technology that they love. Add them all up and they amount to something. But not all this stuff is practical, and there is this debt thing...

It never will be practical either if it's not researched. Please tell me you're not one of those simpletons who think that a technology will just "be there" when needed at the drop of a hat. Both railguns and FELs have been being worked since the 80s (at the least). Quitting isn't going to get them developed sooner. And yeah, there's "this thing called debt". That doesn't mean you stop buying toothpaste just because you have two mortgages.
 
sferrin said:
blackstar said:
Yeah, everybody has a favorite really really cool technology that they love. Add them all up and they amount to something. But not all this stuff is practical, and there is this debt thing...

It never will be practical either if it's not researched. Please tell me you're not one of those simpletons who think that a technology will just "be there" when needed at the drop of a hat. Both railguns and FELs have been being worked since the 80s (at the least). Quitting isn't going to get them developed sooner. And yeah, there's "this thing called debt". That doesn't mean you stop buying toothpaste just because you have two mortgages.

sferrin - better yet you don't cancel the home security system on those two mortgages or drop your home insurance. The cost of that could far out weigh the savings when someone breaks in and steals everything or the place burns to the ground. You cut your kids allowance (entitlements) first. Especially if your kids allowance (entitlement and welfare spending) is eating up half the family budget if we were to analogize to the US federal budget.

National defense is a countries security/insurance!
 
Its simply really. These two programs spanned the smallest amount of congressional districts, and therefore were met with the least amount of resistance for termination. Congress can hold them up high and yell "look, we cut spending"!

Now if Lockheed was working on a railgun across seven congressional districts.....
 
sublight said:
Its simply really. These two programs spanned the smallest amount of congressional districts, and therefore were met with the least amount of resistance for termination. Congress can hold them up high and yell "look, we cut spending"!

Now if Lockheed was working on a railgun across seven congressional districts.....


Sadly, you're sooo right. On the one hand this $20 million is vital to slash the national debt, yet they're going to throw $4 BILLION (to start) into the Black Hole of California's High Speed Rail project to build tracks to nowhere. ??? [Editorial comment, there]
 
F-14D said:
sublight said:
Its simply really. These two programs spanned the smallest amount of congressional districts, and therefore were met with the least amount of resistance for termination. Congress can hold them up high and yell "look, we cut spending"!

Now if Lockheed was working on a railgun across seven congressional districts.....


Sadly, you're sooo right. On the one hand this $20 million is vital to slash the national debt, yet they're going to throw $4 BILLION (to start) into the Black Hole of California's High Speed Rail project to build tracks to nowhere. ??? [Editorial comment, there]

Even better they are spending another couple of billion on a "high speed rail" line from someplace in Iowa to Chicago THAT IS SLOWER THAN THE BUS SERVICE they now have servicing the two cities :mad:
 
Navy is going to fight for the technologies apparently:

Rear Adm. Nevin Carr is the Chief of Naval Research, in charge of hundreds and hundreds of different R&D programs — about three billion dollars’ worth of science projects, next-gen gadgets, and upgrades to the Navy arsenal. But of all those many efforts, there are two that get Carr really pumped: a superlaser and a hypersonic gun. Both are capable of revolutionizing how the Navy fights at sea. Both are considered “marquee” programs by Carr as his legion of scientists and engineers. And both of them are on the precipice of destruction from Congress.
Lawmakers have traditionally left military research budgets intact, tinkering at the margins only when they feel money is being seriously misspent or the R&D projects are seriously off-track. Rarely, if ever, do they go after a service’s top research priority.
Last Friday, however, the Senate Armed Services Committee broke with tradition, and declared that Carr’s babies, the Free Electron Laser and the Electromagnetic Railgun, weren’t fit to grow up any more. The panel said funds for the programs should be terminated.
Neither project was in trouble — in fact, both had recently broken records in their respective fields. But in Washington’s new atmosphere of austerity, the ray gun and the railgun were suddenly considered futuristic luxuries, not the “game-changers” Carr had touted for so long.
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Bolding mine - so the federal government, "When something doesn't work throw more and more money at it something is breaking records and looks promising CANCEL IT!" Make sense to anyone :eek:
 
These are deliberate political budget cuts. Not only were they picked by lack of congressional resistance, they were also picked for public consumption. There are many other programs that have higher budgets but indecipherable technical names. They needed something the public would instantly recognise like "LASER" and "RAILGUN". Something like "thermal properties of metamaterials" wasn't going to do the trick. Isn't congress great?
 
Some good news: http://defensetech.org/2012/02/09/navy-moving-ahead-with-railgun-devo/

Via Militaryphotos.net, the ONR press release: http://www.onr.navy.mil/en/Media-Center/Press-Releases/2012/BAE-Railgun-Launcher-Prototype-Delivery.aspx
 

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