ONR's record-setting test to showcase railgun's military relevance

Dec 07, 2010
This is a photograph taken from a high-speed video camera during a record-setting firing of an electromagnetic railgun (EMRG) at Naval Surface Warfare Center, Dahlgren, Va., on Jan. 31, 2008, firing at 10.64 megajoules with a muzzle velocity of 2,520 meters per second. The Office of Naval Research's EMRG program is part of the Department of the Navy's Science and Technology investments, focused on developing new technologies to support Navy and Marine Corps warfighting needs. Credit: US Navy photo by John F. Williams

Senior Navy leaders will be on hand Dec. 10 at Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD), a tenant command to Naval Support Facility (NSF), Dahlgren, Va., for a record-setting test of the Office of Naval Research's (ONR) experimental Electromagnetic Railgun, the service's effort to evolve surface ship weapons.

With the latest demonstration, the Navy will fire a 32-megajoule muzzle energy shot, and attempt to set a new world record for the Railgun program. A megajoule is a measurement of energy associated with a mass traveling at a certain velocity. For example, a one-ton vehicle moving at 100 mph equals a megajoule of energy.

The test will also show the tactical relevance of the technology.

"The importance of the 32-megajoule demonstration is the feasibility of the system at an energy level that has significance," said Roger Ellis, ONR's Electromagnetic Railgun program manager.

Capability-wise, a future tactical Electromagnetic Railgun will hit targets at ranges almost 20 times farther than conventional surface ship combat systems. A 32-megajoule shot, for example, could reach ranges of more than 100 nautical miles with Mach 5 velocity, said Dr. Elizabeth D'Andrea, strategic director for ONR's Electromagnetic Railgun program.

Additionally, the two industry competitors, BAE Systems and General Atomics, will showcase their advanced composite prototype Railgun launcher systems at NSWCDD.

The goal of the Electromagnetic Railgun program is to develop a new surface ship weapon that will use a projectile driven by kinetic energy. This new munition will eliminate the need for a high-energy explosive warhead and traditional gun propellants, ONR officials said.

Removing explosives and chemicals will improve safety for Sailors and Marines and reduce the munitions logistics chain.

The Railgun is being developed for use on a wide range of ships, whether the vessel has an integrated power system, such as DDG 1000, or a non-integrated power system, such as a DDG 51, ONR officials said.

The system would be capable of a rate of fire of six to 12 rounds per minute and guided to targets with a high degree of precision. Improved accuracy should result in minimizing collateral damage, ONR officials added.

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User comments : 15

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that_guy
3.7 / 5 (3) Dec 07, 2010
Sometimes it feels like suddenly we've stepped into the future. not to be all about war or anything, but it would be kinda cool to see these things in action.
Shootist
1 / 5 (5) Dec 07, 2010
A 32-megajoule shot, for example, could reach ranges of more than 100 nautical miles with Mach 5 velocity


Maybe straight up, but this is a direct fire weapon and can only target objects within line of sight.

Also, an ammunition (SCRAM jet assist) was developed for the 16" guns of the Iowa class Battleships which would have had 120 to 200 mile range, were a guided munition, and would have MACH 5+ velocity.
Raveon
5 / 5 (2) Dec 07, 2010
Around 7000fps, impressive but it doesn't mention the weight of the projectile. Looks a bit inefficient considering the flames, probably bad for the barrel too. I think deployment is still quite a ways off.
Raveon
5 / 5 (1) Dec 07, 2010
What makes you think it's direct fire? There's no reason it can't shoot over the horizon, it is still a ballistic projectile, just high velocity. If it couldn't fire at long range the Navy wouldn't be interested.

Shooting straight up only gets you the acceleration of gravity coming down, limited by air resistance, no matter what its velocity upwards.
Husky
not rated yet Dec 07, 2010
is there some kind of guiding kit attached to the projectiles ? that would extend range beyond line of sight, arched shots and midflight updates to go after moving targets
Burnerjack
not rated yet Dec 07, 2010
Exact force computation to be included in fire solution should yield incredible accuracy particularly in indirect solutions (I think...). If the driving force is EMF, can anyone explain the flame(?) behind the projectile in the photo? Seems incongruent.
yyz
5 / 5 (1) Dec 07, 2010
"...can anyone explain the flame(?) behind the projectile..."

The electricity flowing through the rails and frictional forces generate an enormous amount of heat that, if not properly controlled, can melt the barrel, rails and attached equipment. The projectile itself may suffer from some heat ablation as well: http://en.wikiped...sipation
Justsayin
not rated yet Dec 07, 2010
Good question Burnerjack. The projectile seems ablative and my guess would be something akin to a meteor streaking across the sky this thing could do the same....just a guess though...check out the high res photo here http://www.navy.m...id=54942
Caliban
3.7 / 5 (3) Dec 07, 2010
I laugh when I see the term "reduced Collateral Damage". That claim is complete horseshit, and depends entirely upon the circumstances at ground zero. A 32 megajoule impact is going to make a big damned mess, whether it is a verticle drop-in or a horizontal gouge-in.

It pisses me off that they even make reference to this concept any longer. Unless your weapon is 100% effective at killing the target, and the target only, then there will always be collateral damage. What is the current count of collateral damage so far in Iraq? Last I heard, it was somewhere around 150,000 civilian(excuse me -collateral damage)casualties?

Cut the Crap, and start calling things what they really are.
fixer
5 / 5 (1) Dec 07, 2010
Well, at least you will know where the shot comes from.
Simple enough for a companion ship to send a tomahawk back.
I wonder how much of the projectile is left and how fast it is travelling at the end of it's journey?
stvnwlsn
5 / 5 (1) Dec 08, 2010
"Maybe straight up, but this is a direct fire weapon and can only target objects within line of sight."

Link shows trajectory, speed and altitude.
http://atg.ga.com...ndex.php
scidog
not rated yet Dec 08, 2010
line of sight?..think GPS.
Bob_Kob
1 / 5 (1) Dec 08, 2010
2.5 km/second.... shiet...
that_guy
1 / 5 (1) Dec 08, 2010
A 32-megajoule shot, for example, could reach ranges of more than 100 nautical miles with Mach 5 velocity


Maybe straight up, but this is a direct fire weapon and can only target objects within line of sight.

Also, an ammunition (SCRAM jet assist) was developed for the 16" guns of the Iowa class Battleships which would have had 120 to 200 mile range, were a guided munition, and would have MACH 5+ velocity.


What are you talking about? "Straight up"? Then. it. would. come. straight. down.

Why would it be limited to line of sight trajectory? I'm not seeing any reason it can't be fired in a ballistic trajectory. Seriously. I would give you negative stars if I could.
Quantum_Conundrum
1 / 5 (2) Dec 11, 2010


Maybe straight up, but this is a direct fire weapon and can only target objects within line of sight.


You're not familliar with ballistics are you?

For maximum range, the ideal angle to fire a ballistic projectile would be 45 degrees, neglecting air resistance, and it would hit with the exact same velocity as at the muzzle.

With air resistance, the ideal maximum range depends on the wind speed and direction.

This weapon can shoot over an entire mountain range and totally destroy a target on the other side, just as well as if it was a direct shot in the test facility.