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General Atomics Electromagnetic Rail Gun

bobbymike

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From Defensetech.org -

http://defensetech.org/2010/05/05/killer-drone-builder-general-atomics-builds-killer-electromagnetic-rail-cannon/
 

donnage99

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I thought BAE is the one working on this?
 

bobbymike

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donnage99 - Ya I had not heard of any program like this at G.A. until this story. I have BAE as well as the Naval Research Laboratory - Future Weapons had a segment on the NRL's rail gun, I believe the one that holds the record for energy at 9 Mjs.
 

TomS

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It's not a huge shock to see G.A. working on this, though. They are the lead on the Navy's electromagnetic launch system (catapult) effort, so they have plenty of expertise on pulsed power applications. EMALS is more of a linear motor/coil gun, but some of the support technologies are certainly transferable.

Here's the page for GA's Advanced Weapon Launcher system program.
http://atg.ga.com/EM/defense/railgun/index.php
 

DSE

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TomS said:
It's not a huge shock to see G.A. working on this, though. They are the lead on the Navy's electromagnetic launch system (catapult) effort, so they have plenty of expertise on pulsed power applications. EMALS is more of a linear motor/coil gun, but some of the support technologies are certainly transferable.

Here's the page for GA's Advanced Weapon Launcher system program.
http://atg.ga.com/EM/defense/railgun/index.php
Though EMALS isn't exactly an over performing project.
 

bobbymike

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Speaking of which from Insidedefense.com - PM: Catapult Mishap Delays First EMALS Aircraft Launch Until Fall

DefenseAlert, May 4, 2010 -- The first test launch of an aircraft using the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System has been delayed until the fall, due to a catapult failure earlier this year, the program manager said yesterday.
 

ouroboros

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I wouldn't call the EMALS problem an outright failure. From the descriptions, it sounds like a combination of someone flipping a bit in the software and setting it to reverse rather than forward during the test, and the not so hot idea of putting critical equipment directly in the path of the shuttle should it reverse (or overshoot if returning from the other end under normal operations). The first is an easy software fix, the second is a layout issue that may not be surmountable depending on the shape of the equipment spaces on the new CVN though.

The interesting thing about EMALS is the possibility of having a nonlinear shape to the launch track, and thus the possibility of fitting catapults to skijump carriers.

Has there been anything conceptually similar for railguns? I seem to remember a bizarre concept for a coilgun (not a railgun) that used a circular ring first stage to bring the projectile up to speed, and a shorter main barrel for final boost. This allowed a surprising compact design, though considering the nature of where I saw it, I wouldn't be surprised if that was pure fantasy and not grounded in reality. Though the similarity with launch loop mechanical launchers, and the fact that the loop helps solve the railgun projectile/sabot injection issues is the reason why the concept may have legs.
 

bobbymike

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There is coilgun work being done I think by the Army Research Lab. I saw something on Future Weapons about a coilgun mortar.
 

bobbymike

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EMALS News from Aviation Week

Recent tests at NAS Lakehurst, N.J., should have builders of the USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) sleeping more easily. The Navy’s risky bet in the design of the Ford—its reliance on an all-electric replacement for the steam catapult—appears to be paying off.

Problems and delays with the electromagnetic aircraft launch system (Emals) last year were a threat to the carrier, because its design and construction reached a point where reverting to steam would have been difficult and expensive. With Emals in mind, the Ford-class features a much more powerful electrical generation and distribution system than the predecessor Nimitz-class ships, along with the virtual elimination of steam-energized services such as heating, galleys and pumps and 10 km. (6 mi.) of steam lines.

The Navy has delayed delivery of the $11.5-billion carrier for budgetary reasons twice. (Commissioning is expected in September 2015.) The scheduled progress of Emals now matches the carrier’s build schedule but with so little slack in some areas that the Navy is continuing to monitor development of the system closely.

The land-based prototype of Emals at Lakehurst started high-speed “no load” test runs in April, and will start to accelerate with dead loads—ballast—at speeds increasing from 50-180 kt. At prime contractor General Atomics’ plant in Tupelo, Miss., prototypes of the Kato Engineering power modules are undergoing accelerated life testing, performing 6,800 power cycles. So far, tests show no signs that the powerful electrical surges cause electromagnetic interference with aircraft, ammunition or ejection seats. The first aircraft launch at Lakehurst is expected by year-end.

Initial Emals components for Ford are due at the Newport News shipyard in May 2011. The tightest schedule concerns the 12 power units, which are high-speed motor-generators weighing 80,000 lb. each and functioning as flywheel energy storage and release units. Some are not due at the yard until the day before they are installed.

Emals will deliver energy more flexibly than Nimitz-class steam catapults. The F-35C Joint Strike Fighter demands more launch energy than the F/A-18E/F, and Emals will allow the Ford to launch the JSF at maximum weight with less wind-over-deck.

Emals can also be set to lower energy levels than a steam catapult, allowing it to launch small, lightly loaded aircraft like unmanned aerial vehicles.

The Ford class features a new advanced arrester gear as well, also produced by General Atomics and replacing hydraulic rams with a water turbine and induction motor, permitting a finer setting of arresting force and reducing the need for manual adjustments between landings. Like Emals, it is expected to allow the carrier to operate heavier and lighter aircraft than the current Mk. 7 arrester gear. Unlike Emals, it is intended to be backfitted to Nimitz-class carriers.

The carrier will be part of the process of introducing a landing guidance system to the Navy: the Joint Precision Approach and Landing System (Jpals). It will be one of the first ships with Jpals, which is slated to be on all carriers and large amphibious transports by 2018. The second Ford-class ship, CVN-79, is due to be the first carrier without SPN-41 and SPN-46 radars, which provide carriers with an automatic landing capability.

Adoption of Jpals is urgent for the Navy because current radars will not be supportable after the early 2020s. Jpals is also associated with the F-35C, because the fighter’s reduced radar cross-section means that current radar-based autolanding systems cannot acquire it. The installation of Jpals on carriers will match service entry of the F-35C.

The first increment of Jpals will be qualified for flight guidance down to 200 ft. and 0.5-mi. visibility. Accuracy is intended to be sufficient for an automatic landing, and that capability is being demonstrated as part of the Northrop Grumman X-47B Navy Unmanned Combat Air System program.

The key to its accuracy is shipboard-relative GPS, which uses two GPS receivers—one forward of the island on the starboard side and the other on the portside stern. The space between the sensors and their relative location allows the system to measure the position of the ship accurately and track its movement—speed, pitch, roll and heave—with the aid of three Northrop Grumman LN-270 inertial reference units. Using the same differential GPS technique, Jpals also provides an accurate aircraft position. A data link allows the system to transmit automatic landing guidance.

Credit: US Navy
 

bobbymike

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Had not heard of this before although knew GA was working on this technology. From The Register:

Blitzer' railgun already 'tactically relevant', boasts maker

US Navy preps flyswatter for Muscovite 'Mosquito'
By Lewis Page • Get more from this author
Posted in Science, 15th December 2010 14:02 GMT

It's all go in the world of hypervelocity railguns this week. Following Friday's 33-megajoule test shot carried out at a US Navy laboratory, it has also been announced that a different railgun known as "Blitzer" has recently carried out firings which suggest that it is almost combat ready.

The Blitzer comes to us courtesy of famous radical-tech company General Atomics, well known to Reg readers for its development of robot warplanes and electromagnetic mass-driver catapults for aircraft carriers among other things.

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/12/15/blitzer_trials/
 

dannydale

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Googled for 'Blitzer Railgun' and found this attention-grabbing article:

http://www.ga.com/news.php?read=1&id=330&page=1

"Blitzer™ Successfully Completes Aerodynamic Projectiles Testing"
 

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fightingirish

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Nice video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NWZPp3aEjuM
In 2007, building upon knowledge gained under an Office of Naval Research (ONR) Innovative Naval Prototype contract, GA initiated development of the Blitzer™ system using internal funds to accomplish two major objectives:
- Demonstrate the technical maturity of tactically relevant railgun technologies in a proving-ground environment.
- Generate interest in the viability of smaller Electromagnetic (EM) gun systems for use in a broader set of missions, including integrated air and missile defense (IAMD).
GA accomplished both of these objectives by demonstrating the launcher and power system technologies to full design levels in 2009 during testing with non-aerodynamic rounds, followed by testing of aerodynamic rounds during the fall of 2010.

The tests demonstrated the integration and capabilities of a tactically relevant EM Railgun launcher, pulsed power system, and projectile. The projectiles were launched by Blitzer at Mach 5 with acceleration levels exceeding 60,000 gee, and exhibited repeatable sabot separation and stable flight.

General Atomics video
Code:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NWZPp3aEjuM
 

jsport

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http://www.utroninc.com/tech.html#CLGG

more gun options.
 

bobbymike

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General Atomics Delivers Railgun to Navy

General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems Group (GA-EMS) announces the delivery to the U.S. Navy and successful initial firing of a new railgun prototype. The Advanced Containment Launcher (ACL) delivered to the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Dahlgren, Va. is designed to deliver significantly higher muzzle energies than ever demonstrated in a tactically relevant configuration.


The full-scale electromagnetic (EM) Railgun is now undergoing a series of full energy tests and evaluation by the Navy. Under a contract with the Office of Naval Research (ONR), GA-EMS has developed a first generation launcher prototype on the path towards a future long-range weapon system to fire projectiles using high power electromagnetic energy instead of chemical propellants at muzzle energies up to 32 megajoules (equivalent energy to approximately 35 tons traveling 100 mph). This system is capable of launching projectiles almost eight times farther (100+ nautical miles) and more than twice the speed of conventional guns (up to 5,600 mph). The high velocity and great range of an EM railgun will provide dramatically increased multi-mission capabilities, including ship defense, anti-surface warfare, and naval surface fire support, all from a single weapon system mounted on U.S. Navy vessels.


The EM railgun is set to undergo the first phase of a two-phase program to develop a new weapon that will revolutionize the Navy. The second phase will be to develop thermal management systems for both the launcher and pulsed power systems to facilitate repetitive firing rates. To this end, GA-EMS has been contracted by the Navy to provide pulsed power for repetitive fire demonstrations and to further develop an effective thermally managed launcher. . “GA is pleased to be a member of the Navy Railgun team and provide our demonstrated ability of delivering innovative electromagnetic launcher and high power technologies to the Fleet,” states Scott Forney, GA-EMS Group Senior Vice President.



Source : General Atomics
 

jsport

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and thermal solutions make more sense.
 

TomS

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Any solution that requires storing significant volumes of hydrogen on board strikes me as unlikely to gain much traction. It's not so much that it's hazardous (it's not, especially), but it's a nuisance from a maintenance perspective (hydrogen embrittlement, leakage, etc.), it's not very energy-dense (so it consumes a lot of volume), and it would surely be a pain to replenish at sea (cryogenic lines in a CONREP -- no thank you!).
 

jsport

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TomS said:
Any solution that requires storing significant volumes of hydrogen on board strikes me as unlikely to gain much traction. It's not so much that it's hazardous (it's not, especially), but it's a nuisance from a maintenance perspective (hydrogen embrittlement, leakage, etc.), it's not very energy-dense (so it consumes a lot of volume), and it would surely be a pain to replenish at sea (cryogenic lines in a CONREP -- no thank you!).
wholey unconvinced hydro is not a solution especially as LG potential ranges are far beyond plus there are plenty alternatives to LG.
storage may not be an issue for multiple reasons as opposed to subject ongoing boondoggle.
 

Triton

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Office of Naval Research press release:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Oct. 9, 2012

By the Office of Naval Research

ARLINGTON, Va.—The Office of Naval Research’s (ONR) Electromagnetic (EM) Railgun program is evaluating the second of two industry railgun prototype launchers at a facility in Dahlgren, Va., officials announced today.

The EM Railgun launcher is a long-range naval weapon that fires projectiles using electricity instead of traditional gun propellants such as explosive chemicals. Magnetic fields created by high electrical currents accelerate a sliding metal conductor, or armature, between two rails to launch projectiles at 4,500-5,600 mph.

The Navy is pursuing development of the launcher system through two industry teams—General Atomics and BAE Systems—to reduce risk in the program and to foster innovation in next-generation shipboard weapons.

“It’s exciting to see how two different teams are both delivering very relevant but unique launcher solutions,” said Roger Ellis, EM Railgun program manager.

General Atomics has delivered its prototype launcher to Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Dahlgren Division, where engineers have engaged in a series of tests similar to the evaluations conducted on the prototype demonstrator made by BAE Systems that arrived on Jan. 30.

“We’re evaluating and learning from both prototype designs, and we’ll be folding what we learn from the evaluations into the next phase of the program,” said Ellis.

Both General Atomics and BAE Systems are commencing work on concept designs for a next-generation prototype EM Railgun capable of increased firing rates. This includes continued development of automatic projectile loading systems and thermal management systems for the barrel. Officials plan to evaluate the concept designs at the end of the year.

The EM Railgun is an Innovative Naval Prototype being managed by ONR’s Naval Air Warfare and Weapons Department. The two prototype demonstrators incorporate advanced composites and improved barrel life performance resulting from development efforts on laboratory railgun systems located at the Naval Research Laboratory and NSWC-Dahlgren Division.

The EM Railgun laboratory demonstrator based at NSWC-Dahlgren Division fired a world record setting 33-megajoule shot in December 2010. One megajoule of energy is equivalent to a 1-ton car traveling at 100 miles per hour.
Source:
http://www.onr.navy.mil/en/Media-Center/Press-Releases/2012/Electromagnetic-Railgun-General-Atomics-Prototype.aspx

Very interesting, since I thought that the Senate Armed Service Committee voted to end funding of the Electromagnetic Rail Gun on June 20, 2011.
 

Triton

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Is the ship in the video a notional CG-X or will the General Atomics Blitzer be installed in a Zumwalt-class destroyer?
 

TomS

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The Blitzer video shows both DDG-1000 and DDG-51 platforms. Since there isn't an actual procurement program to buy a deployed version of Blitzer (or any other railgun), no one knows what ship it might be fielded in yet.
 

Triton

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"AUSA 2013: General Atomics unveils Blitzer land-based railgun"
Richard D Fisher Jr, Washington, DC - IHS Jane's Defence Weekly
22 October 2013

Source:
http://www.janes.com/images/assets/774/28774/p1513608.jpg

General Atomics unveiled a land-based artillery version of its Blitzer electromagnetic railgun (EMRG) at the Association of the US Army (AUSA) conference in Washington, DC, with a company official telling IHS Jane's that with adequate funding the concept could be ready for production in "two to three years".

Blitzer began as a 2007 US Office of Naval Research programme to develop prototype technologies to support the US Navy's (USN's) futuristic railgun programme, which is now led by BAE Systems and Boeing.

Despite 2010 testing that included firing a projectile up to Mach 5 speeds the USN opted to develop a larger railgun.
 

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Triton

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"BAE Systems to Develop Next-Generation Guided Projectile for U.S. Navy"
November 07, 2013 11:38 AM Eastern Standard Time

Source:
http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20131107006280/en/BAE-Systems-Develop-Next-Generation-Guided-Projectile-U.S.

MINNEAPOLIS--(BUSINESS WIRE)--BAE Systems has received a $33.6 million contract from the Office of Naval Research (ONR) to develop and demonstrate a Hyper Velocity Projectile (HVP). The HVP is a next-generation, guided projectile capable of completing multiple missions for the Electromagnetic Railgun, as well as existing 5-inch and 155-mm gun systems. This competitive award marks the initiation of Phase 1A of the program.

“The HVP takes the next evolutionary step in providing an affordable, precise, multi-mission capability for multiple gun platforms,” said Chris Hughes, vice president and general manager of Weapon Systems at BAE Systems. “We look forward to applying our expertise and technologies to this important program.”

The HVP is designed to provide lethality and performance enhancements to current and future gun systems. The objective of the first phase is to produce a concept design and development roadmap towards fully guided flight demonstrations.

BAE Systems, along with teammates United Technologies and Custom Analytical Engineering Systems (CAES), will develop and demonstrate a modular, low drag HVP. The modular design will allow the HVP to be configured for multiple gun systems and to address different missions. BAE Systems will build on its recent Long Range Land Attack Projectile and Multi-Service Standard Guided Projectile development and demonstration successes to apply innovative and proven designs to the next-generation projectile.

Work on the HVP contract is expected to begin immediately, with its initial phase to be completed by June 2014. The development will be carried out by BAE Systems in Minneapolis, Minnesota; UTC Aerospace Systems in Vergennes, Vermont; and CAES in Flintstone, Maryland.
 

Triton

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Published on Apr 4, 2013

The Hyper Velocity Projectile (HVP) program is a next generation, common, low-drag, guided projectile capable of completing multiple missions for gun systems such as the Navy 5-Inch, 155-mm and future railguns. The high-velocity, compact design relieves the need for a rocket motor to extend gun range.

http://youtu.be/rIHMVtLNBzQ
 

Triton

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Perhaps the General Dynamics land-based Blitzer railgun concept would be more impressive if all the trucks in the model were the same scale.
 

sferrin

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Heh, yeah, you'd think that wouldn't be difficult to do. As it is it looks like a 20mm cannon that needs a truck-sized battery. :p
 

donnage99

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Lets figure out how to airlift a cannon with 2 gigantic trucks for logistic supports. *Army is slowly walking away*
 

TomS

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Less footprint than a Patriot battery. Set up in a fire base, it would cover a lot more area than a conventional howitzer.
 

bobbymike

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Navy Looks To Fire Electromagnetic Railgun From JHSV, Destroyers

Posted: Jan. 24, 2014

The Navy is planning an at-sea demonstration with an electromagnetic railgun on board a Joint High Speed Vessel sometime in fiscal year 2016, Inside the Navy has learned, and expects in the long run to deploy the weapon on destroyers also. The Navy's current schedule shows a single-shot demonstration with a railgun, a futuristic technology made by BAE Systems that fires projectiles using electricity instead of chemical propellants, on board a JHSV around the end of the third quarter of FY-16, industry officials told ITN. The Navy's longer-term plan is to deploy the tactical gun on destroyers, according to the officials. Naval Sea Systems Command Spokesman Chris Johnson confirmed that the Navy is planning an at-sea demonstration aboard a JHSV around the FY-16 time frame. "We're still in the very early planning stages and don't have any [more] specifics to share just yet," Johnson wrote in an e-mail to ITN on Jan. 23.

The railgun can hit ranges of 100 nautical miles or more and uses electricity stored in a capacitor on the ship to generate a high-speed electromagnetic pulse that propels a kinetic energy projectile, rather than a conventional explosive. The Office of Naval Research (ONR) launched the railgun program in 2005, and has already demonstrated the ability to fire a single shot from the weapon. In December 2010, ONR achieved a milestone when it successfully conducted a word-record 33 megajoule shot of the railgun at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Dahlgren, VA. ONR awarded BAE a $34.5 million contract early in 2013 for the development of the railgun under phase 2 of the Navy's innovative naval prototype program. During phase 2, BAE plans to mature the railgun from a single-shot weapon to a 10-shots-per-minute system that automatically reloads and fires. The railgun is much cheaper than conventional weapons, John Perry, BAE Systems director of business development for weapons systems, told ITN on Jan. 15, because it does not require physical ammunition and so has an "unlimited magazine."

The railgun also improves safety for sailors and marines because using a kinetic warhead eliminates the hazards of storing high explosives on the ship and unexploded ordnance on the battlefield. Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert emphasized the potential of the railgun in a speech to the Surface Navy Association's annual symposium on Jan. 14 in Arlington, VA. "Directed energy's in our future," Greenert said, adding that the Navy and industry partners are making progress with the technology. "It's about power, repeatable power . . . So this is really a big deal for our future." -- Lara Seligman
-------------------------------------------------------------
Bolding mine - Going to be an awesome capability IMHO
 

starviking

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That exec is either hyping things or is an MBA removed from reality - railguns require physical ammunition, they don't require propellant however.
 

Triton

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"US Navy Rail Gun Enters Prototype Phase II"
Kyle Maxey posted on January 23, 2014

Source:
http://www.engineering.com/DesignerEdge/DesignerEdgeArticles/ArticleID/7008/US-Navy-Rail-Gun-Enters-Prototype-Phase-II.aspx

The US Navy’s Office of Naval Research (ONR) recently announced that it has moved onto the second phase of testing for their surface ship mounted, electromagnetic rail gun.

Initiated in 2005, the Navy’s rail gun project has made major strides in the last few years; recently conducting a successful firing test that saw the supersonic weapon hit its target with 100% accuracy.

Designed as a long-range weapon, the ONR’s rail gun was designed to shoot projectiles up to 100 miles at speeds ranging from 7,442-8,851 km/h (4,500-5,500 mph). Using energy stored aboard a ship, the weapon would employ a high-energy electrical pulse to blast 14.5kg (23lb), high velocity rounds from 155mm canons aboard a naval vessel.

Although its performance specs are thoroughly impressive, the Navy is also interested in the weapon as a cost saving measure. According to Rear Adm. Matthew Klunder, Chief of Naval Research, a rail gun round costs about $25,000, which is a pittance when you compare it to the $1.5M price tag of a Tomahawk cruise missile.

While the engineering behind the weapon’s electrical systems appears to be functional, more design work is needed to create cooling systems that will allow an extremely hot, high-energy rail gun to fire multiple rounds in rapid succession.

“We’ve gone through prototype phase 1 and had two industry gun systems. We’re now on phase two which will give us multiple rounds per minute,” said Klunder.

In the coming years the Navy has plans to develop the infrastructure and technology required to realize a fully functional rail gun. If all goes according to plan the first seaborne firing of the new high-energy, high caliber weapon could happen sometime in 2016, effectively extending the reach of US Navy weapons threefold.
 

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starviking said:
That exec is either hyping things or is an MBA removed from reality - railguns require physical ammunition, they don't require propellant however.
You could argue that the giant amount of fuel that will need to be burnt in the multiple generators required to produce sufficient electricity to fire the rail gun constitutes the propellent. Putting AMDR on Burke Flight III is requiring a 33% increase in the output of the generators- add a rail gun in place of the 5" and a pair of lasers in place of Phalanx and things are going to get interesting....
 

sferrin

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JFC Fuller said:
starviking said:
That exec is either hyping things or is an MBA removed from reality - railguns require physical ammunition, they don't require propellant however.
You could argue that the giant amount of fuel that will need to be burnt in the multiple generators required to produce sufficient electricity to fire the rail gun constitutes the propellent. Putting AMDR on Burke Flight III is requiring a 33% increase in the output of the generators- add a rail gun in place of the 5" and a pair of lasers in place of Phalanx and things are going to get interesting....
Now put a nuclear reactor down below. . .
 

Triton

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sferrin said:
JFC Fuller said:
You could argue that the giant amount of fuel that will need to be burnt in the multiple generators required to produce sufficient electricity to fire the rail gun constitutes the propellent. Putting AMDR on Burke Flight III is requiring a 33% increase in the output of the generators- add a rail gun in place of the 5" and a pair of lasers in place of Phalanx and things are going to get interesting....
Now put a nuclear reactor down below. . .
If only we had the CGN-42 class or similar. :(

 

TomS

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The fuel requirement isn't that terrible -- I recall a figure of 8 gallons per shot a few years ago. Compared to the usual consumption of the ship's engines, that's not much. Radar has a much worse impact because it's consumption is continuous -- railguns are pulsed and the extra power to charge the pulse power generators is required only for short periods.
 

Moose

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JFC Fuller said:
starviking said:
That exec is either hyping things or is an MBA removed from reality - railguns require physical ammunition, they don't require propellant however.
You could argue that the giant amount of fuel that will need to be burnt in the multiple generators required to produce sufficient electricity to fire the rail gun constitutes the propellent. Putting AMDR on Burke Flight III is requiring a 33% increase in the output of the generators- add a rail gun in place of the 5" and a pair of lasers in place of Phalanx and things are going to get interesting....
Burke FIII is unlikely to get either. The subclass won't have an integrated power system, you're not doing Railguns and Directed Energy Weapons on a large scale without one. The three Zumwalts will be the Rail/DEW testbeds, whatever comes of the Next Generation Surface Combatant program will get them next.
 
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