Navy to begin tests on electromagnetic railgun prototype launcher

Feb 06, 2012
Gary Bass, from the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Dahlgren, Va., uses a crane to maneuver a 32-MJ version of the Office of Naval Research-funded Electromagnetic Railgun prototype into place for government evaluation. The EMRG is a long-range weapon that launches projectiles using electricity instead of chemical propellants and is under development by the Department of the Navy for use aboard ships. Credit: US Navy photo by John F. Williams/Released

The Office of Naval Research (ONR)'s Electromagnetic (EM) Railgun program will take an important step forward in the coming weeks when the first industry railgun prototype launcher is tested at a facility in Dahlgren, Va., officials said Feb. 6.

"This is the next step toward a future tactical system that will be placed on board a ship some day," said Roger Ellis, program manager of EM Railgun.

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

With its increased velocity and extended range, the EM Railgun will give Sailors a multi-mission capability, allowing them to conduct precise naval surface fire support, or land strikes; cruise missile and ballistic missile defense; and surface warfare to deter enemy vessels. Navy planners are targeting a 50- to 100-nautical mile initial capability with expansion up to 220 nautical miles.

The EM Railgun program, part of ONR's Naval Air Warfare and Weapons Department, previously relied upon government laboratory-based launchers for testing and advancing railgun technology. The first industry-built launcher, a 32-megajoule prototype demonstrator made by BAE Systems, arrived at Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Dahlgren Jan. 30. One of energy is equivalent to a 1-ton car traveling at 100 miles per hour.

"This industry prototype represents a step beyond our previous successful demonstrations of the laboratory launcher," Ellis said.

The prototype demonstrator incorporates advanced composites and improved barrel life performance resulting from development efforts on the laboratory systems located at the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) and NSWC-Dahlgren. The EM Railgun laboratory demonstrator based at NSWC-Dahlgren fired a world record setting 33-megajoule shot in December 2010.

The industry demonstrator will begin test firing this month as the EM Railgun program prepares for delivery of a second prototype launcher built by General Atomics.

In the meantime, the Navy is pushing ahead with the next phase of the EM Railgun program to develop automatic projectile loading systems and thermal management systems to facilitate increased firing rates of the weapon.

"The next phase of the development effort is to demonstrate the ability to operate at a firing rate of significant military utility," Ellis said.

ONR recently awarded $10 million contracts through Naval Sea Systems Command to Raytheon Corp., BAE Systems and General Atomics to develop a pulsed power system for launching projectiles in rapid succession. These new contracts kick off a five-year effort to achieve a firing rate of six to 10 rounds per minute.

BAE Systems and General Atomics also are commencing concept development work on the next-generation prototype EM capable of the desired firing rate.

Explore further: Tricorder XPRIZE: 10 teams advance in global competition to develop consumer-focused diagnostic device

Provided by Office of Naval Research

4.6 /5 (26 votes)

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kochevnik
Feb 06, 2012
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Parsec
4.5 / 5 (25) Feb 06, 2012
First?!?!? Ronald Raygun was playing with these in the 80s to beat us. But he didn't have a lid on security and leaked news that the DOD way dabbling in scalar weapons, in which CCCP of course was a generation ahead. Printed right there in black and white in Scientific American. Then baby Bush correctly assumed that Americans forgot about Tesla and scalar weapons, so he could vaporize the Twin Towers and blame it on his buddy Osama, to whom Clinton had given a $billion in 1995 for playing a foil to the MSM.

Rarely have I heard such bs from a PhysOrg contributor. In this short post he manages to push in 2 pieces of mindless propaganda, and 3 worthless conspiracy theories.

This even beats the crank posts from Omar, raw1, and kevenrts!
axemaster
5 / 5 (16) Feb 06, 2012
I have worked with railguns before, and let me tell you, this thing they've built is a real accomplishment. It is NOT easy getting these things to work properly, even in lab conditions. Mounting and operating one on a ship is going to be an absolute nightmare.

Also, 32 MJ is an absurdly huge amount of energy for an electrical system. I mean, I can't even imagine working with that much energy (or that much money). These guys are nuts.
Possibilus
1.3 / 5 (17) Feb 06, 2012
Well it would probably have to be a nuclear reactor powered ship to consistently produce the required power...but believe that if the warhead is directly fired by the rail-gun, unlike conventional shells or rockets, there will be absolutely no recoil of any kind, allowing even more accurate targeting. Ultimately, they would be adapted to replace rocket assisted launchers for carrier based jets as well. Would sure like a miniaturized verson for flies and mosquitoes too.
ab3a
5 / 5 (16) Feb 06, 2012
@Possibilus: For every action, there is a reaction. There will be recoil. Second, the power isn't the biggest issue. It's the capacitor banks, and the safe delivery of that power to the rail system.

This is a significant achievement. I have concerns with how durable this system is, and how reliable it could be in battle conditions.
gwrede
4.1 / 5 (13) Feb 06, 2012
Recoil is the same. Only in films can the hero drag tanks with his magnetic watch.
jeanfrancoisim
5 / 5 (2) Feb 06, 2012
I have worked with railguns before, and let me tell you, this thing they've built is a real accomplishment. It is NOT easy getting these things to work properly, even in lab conditions. Mounting and operating one on a ship is going to be an absolute nightmare.


For those of us who didn't study in EE, what kind of challenges does such an installation encounter? Is it cooling? Insulating from EM interference?
Burnerjack
2.7 / 5 (16) Feb 06, 2012
The only thing the Soviet Union was "generations ahead" was the utter failure of the promises of Karl Marx. We knew instinctively of the impending failure several generations in advance. What we didn't know was how long caracature of communism would linger in it's demise.
Ronald "Raygun" was promoting particle beam devices. Totally different technology. If you were allowed free press, you would have known that as well.
Fed_Up_With_Stupid
5 / 5 (2) Feb 06, 2012
"...but believe that if the warhead is directly fired by the rail-gun, unlike conventional shells or rockets, there will be absolutely no recoil of any kind, allowing even more accurate targeting..."

Genuine question: Could you elaborate on that effect? In what way do you mean that there will be 'no recoil'?

I'm assuming Newton is still getting his due and that you are referring to something different than the third law being null and void.
Deathclock
2.7 / 5 (12) Feb 06, 2012
"...but believe that if the warhead is directly fired by the rail-gun, unlike conventional shells or rockets, there will be absolutely no recoil of any kind, allowing even more accurate targeting..."

Genuine question: Could you elaborate on that effect? In what way do you mean that there will be 'no recoil'?

I'm assuming Newton is still getting his due and that you are referring to something different than the third law being null and void.


Sadly no, that is exactly what he meant.
antialias_physorg
2.9 / 5 (10) Feb 06, 2012
The railgun is a rather useless piece of military hardware (even though it's a nice piece of tech).

Let's examine this:
- in today's conflicts naval battels are fought at much larger distances (so this has no use in naval engagements)
- attack on land based targets always has the problem of potentially causing civilian harm. With a railgun you do not have the choice from which side you attack a target (unlike with a cruise missile or a drone or even a guided bomb) - so positioning mobile targets in a way that makes them 'invulnerable' from railguns is trivial.
- at a flight time of 1.5 to 3 minutes you're never going to hit a moving target (unlike with a drone or missile)
- you can't add evasive logic to the shell. Once the enemy has even the most basic of interception capability (ballistics are easy to predict) then these things are just dead weight on boats.
- ...
Newbeak
2.8 / 5 (6) Feb 06, 2012
Forget the railgun,free electron lasers are the way to go,striking at the speed of light.
PoppaJ
2.6 / 5 (12) Feb 06, 2012
I envision a ship the size of say a destroyer with the capability to shred an aircraft carrier in just a few seconds.
3432682
2.4 / 5 (10) Feb 06, 2012
This system sounds great.

32 megajoules = 8.9 kWh. An aircraft carrier's main propulsion nuclear plant generates about 200 megawatt-hours of power. So in one hour it could theoretically shoot 22,000 rail gun projectiles, or 375 per minute. That ought to clear the beach. Scale that down to 10 rounds per minute and you'd need a 5mWh generator, and a big capacitor. This sounds easy compared to the much ridiculed Star Wars systems, which work great now.
jsa09
3 / 5 (3) Feb 06, 2012
One megajoule of energy is equivalent to a 1-ton car traveling at 100 miles per hour.

This does not make any sense. Do they mean the energy expended to accelerate a car to that speed from zero?
axemaster
4.3 / 5 (9) Feb 06, 2012
For those of us who didn't study in EE, what kind of challenges does such an installation encounter? Is it cooling? Insulating from EM interference?

What you have to understand is that the 35MJ label doesn't say it all. Consider that the energy is being released in probably .01 seconds or less. Thats 3.5 TERAWATTS. So the electrical system is not very complex - it is however ENORMOUS and EXPENSIVE. To be honest I can't even begin to imagine the craziness of that kind of setup. Not to mention the sheer bulk of 35MJ worth of capacitors. Heat dissipation is definitely the number 1 problem, especially if they want to fire repeatedly.

The railgun is a rather useless piece of military hardware (even though it's a nice piece of tech).

No, the railgun is far from useless. It's an artillery piece that fires every ten seconds at a range of 200 miles!!! And the rounds aren't explosive, so the ship doesn't blow up if the magazine is hit. It's an upgrade in every sense.
bredmond
not rated yet Feb 06, 2012
The railgun is a rather useless piece of military hardware (even though it's a nice piece of tech).

Let's examine this:
- in today's conflicts naval battels are fought at much larger distances (so this has no use in naval engagements)
- attack on land based targets always has the problem of potentially causing civilian harm. With a railgun you do not have the choice from which side you attack a target (unlike with a cruise missile or a drone or even a guided bomb) - so positioning mobile targets in a way that makes them 'invulnerable' from railguns is trivial.
- at a flight time of 1.5 to 3 minutes you're never going to hit a moving target (unlike with a drone or missile)
- you can't add evasive logic to the shell. Once the enemy has even the most basic of interception capability (ballistics are easy to predict) then these things are just dead weight on boats.
- ...


Yeah, but remember what happened to the first death star?attacking a naval ship could be like shooting wamprats!
Etreum
1 / 5 (8) Feb 06, 2012
First?!?!? Ronald Raygun was playing with these in the 80s to beat us. But he didn't have a lid on security and leaked news that the DOD way dabbling in scalar weapons, in which CCCP of course was a generation ahead. Printed right there in black and white in Scientific American. Then baby Bush correctly assumed that Americans forgot about Tesla and scalar weapons, so he could vaporize the Twin Towers and blame it on his buddy Osama, to whom Clinton had given a $billion in 1995 for playing a foil to the MSM.

This weapons exist.
Jeddy_Mctedder
1 / 5 (7) Feb 06, 2012
electrical technologies are vital to the success of humanity, however, when you look at what these guns do ( eliminate the need for gunpowder or explosives on board thereby making the ship more secure and able to RUN engines from any place on the ship to deliver power to any other place on the ship as opposed to need a POWER SYSTEM placed where the power is needed) .

you start realizing that railguns, while amazing as an accomplishment, are really just a marginal improvement on naval capabilities. I am not trying to 'shoot down' the utility of rail guns. god knows these are a worthwhile investment unlike the BILLIONS wasted on the osprey. HOWEVER, when you look at the realities of what the navy needs to accomplish its task NOW. and the reality of where marginal improvement to the naval capabilities will take the navy----it is CLEAR AS DAY that the navy is heading towards drone warfare NOT towards bigger manned guns. of course these aren't mutually exclusive. but i would fund drones.
xamien
5 / 5 (4) Feb 06, 2012
Let's not forget that the issue of damage to the rails themselves from the armature is a non-trivial problem.
Newbeak
2.3 / 5 (4) Feb 06, 2012
I don't see the advantage of railguns for bombardment,that is so last century when missiles do the job cheaper and are maneuverable to boot.As for ship defense,wouldn't directed energy weapons be superior,as they move at the speed of light?
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.7 / 5 (12) Feb 06, 2012
you start realizing that railguns, while amazing as an accomplishment, are really just a marginal improvement on naval capabilities.
This is the beginning of a weapons system, best tested on large vessels with reactors. In a gen or 2 they will be on tanks and aircraft. And on spacecraft.
Starbound
3.7 / 5 (6) Feb 06, 2012
I suspect the biggest advantage of the railgun is its ability to more 'gently' accelerate a projectile by minimizing jerk (third derivative of position WRT time). A railgun could have a lower maximum acceleration, as well as much lower jerk, as the projectile is accelerated down the length of the barrel.

The engineering benefit of reducing jerk and max acceleration is that more sophisticated circuits, sensors, and guidance mechanisms could survive the projectile launch. The projectile could be precisely guided to a target delivering a bunker-busting sabot, or self-destruct if the enemy happens to be using human shields.

AP made a very good point that surface battles no longer decide modern naval battles, and I also agree with Jeddy that drones are incredibly effective platforms. Railguns are useless against a rival carrier group, and are total overkill against a bunch of insurgents on the back of a pickup with AK-47s.

(Con't)
Starbound
3.4 / 5 (5) Feb 06, 2012
(Con't)

These are niche weapons that at least during the large-caliber generation fill a specialty surface bombardment role against second-rate world powers such as Iran or North Korea that may be able to defend an airstrike, but do not yet have the technical knowledge to shoot down a bullet.
JamesK
4.6 / 5 (7) Feb 06, 2012
Missiles are pretty expensive and take much longer to load. Drones are also expensive pieces of hardware that will eventually be countered by better and cheaper AA systems that filter down to lower tech armies. A railgun mounted ship can provide near instant support over long range with virtual impunity against anyone not equipped with anti-ship missiles or a powerful airforce (aka almost everyone). Also, shells can be guided too, every heard of copperhead, a laser guided shell? I'm not saying these railguns will replace drones, but they will certainly compliment them. I imagine more of a drone finds target, ship railgun pounds it dynamic.

Granted that in many counter insurgency ops, arming drones to instantly strike is better. But that's not really what the navy is prepping for, that's mostly army airforce. The navy is looking at south china sea standoffs against numerous Chinese vessels where outranging them might be the only option.
Newbeak
4.3 / 5 (3) Feb 06, 2012
Missiles are pretty expensive and take much longer to load. Drones are also expensive pieces of hardware that will eventually be countered by better and cheaper AA systems that filter down to lower tech armies.

Missiles are expensive,but cheap (and battle-ready and in the inventory) compared with rail-gun tech that is still in the development stage.I really don't see how a rail gun projectile is all that superior to long range conventional artillery.Sure,it shoots it's ammo much faster,but so what? Conventional rounds are just as invulnerable to interception,and are already on ships.
Urgelt
4.7 / 5 (3) Feb 06, 2012
Axemaster wrote:

"No, the railgun is far from useless. It's an artillery piece that fires every ten seconds at a range of 200 miles!!! And the rounds aren't explosive, so the ship doesn't blow up if the magazine is hit. It's an upgrade in every sense."

At 4500 miles per hour, the shell will travel 75 miles per minute. It will take over two minutes to reach a target 200 miles away. Against fast-movers in the air, I don't see the utility unless the slug can maneuver like a missile and home on infrared emissions or something. Against surface targets, I don't see how the slug can even hit a target that far out; the curvature of the earth will get in the way, again unless the slug can maneuver.

Frankly, the only utility I see for unguided railgun slugs is for close-in, slow-moving targets, and then only with excellent targeting algorithms and aiming mechanics.

If the slug does hit a ship's magazine, it's going to release a lot of kinetic energy. Boom.
Newbeak
5 / 5 (3) Feb 06, 2012
At 4500 miles per hour, the shell will travel 75 miles per minute. It will take over two minutes to reach a target 200 miles away. Against fast-movers in the air, I don't see the utility unless the slug can maneuver like a missile and home on infrared emissions or something. Against surface targets, I don't see how the slug can even hit a target that far out; the curvature of the earth will get in the way, again unless the slug can maneuver.

Frankly, the only utility I see for unguided railgun slugs is for close-in, slow-moving targets, and then only with excellent targeting algorithms and aiming mechanics.

If the slug does hit a ship's magazine, it's going to release a lot of kinetic energy. Boom.

Can't agree more.As they say,follow the money.Whose congressional district is the main contractor for this boondoggle in?
axemaster
2.6 / 5 (5) Feb 06, 2012
I don't see the advantage of railguns for bombardment,that is so last century when missiles do the job cheaper and are maneuverable to boot.As for ship defense,wouldn't directed energy weapons be superior,as they move at the speed of light?

Missiles aren't superior when you consider that the railgun shells get to the target much much faster than a missile would. And the problem with directed energy weapons is that they can't hit anything over the horizon, i.e. not in the line-of-sight.
Vendicar_Decarian
Feb 06, 2012
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
GuyGordon
5 / 5 (1) Feb 07, 2012
One megajoule of energy is equivalent to a 1-ton car traveling at 100 miles per hour.

This does not make any sense. Do they mean the energy expended to accelerate a car to that speed from zero?

As opposed to the energy it takes to deccelerate it back to zero?
GuyGordon
3.3 / 5 (3) Feb 07, 2012
Let's see... the slug leaves the railgun at Mach 10 or higher. I guess that makes the category of "slow moving targets" rather inclusive.

Can't hit anything accurately at a distance? Never heard of "spotters", eh?

Drones are better? How much ammo does this drone carry?

All I can say is, I sure am glad we have these experts here to correct those high-school-dropouts at the ONR.
StarGazer2011
1 / 5 (5) Feb 07, 2012
@Starbound @JamesK:
You both make some good points. It seems that the purpose of a railgun would be against 2nd order powers who dont have an airforce capable of taking out the battleship.
Against 1st order powers I think the age of the battelship is ending as they are too suceptible to air strike. The real 'killer app' for ships is high speed laser weapons which can shoot down missles (laser Phalanx), bombs, aircraft and rail gun projectiles, thats still a ways off.
It would be interesting to see how a pilot would do against a rail gun (even a balistic one) due to the relative velocity. Depending on the range the projectile may strike the aircraft before the onboard systems have time to react evasively. Less a problem with next gen drones which will likely use automated evasion with onboard radar proximity detectors.
bredmond
5 / 5 (1) Feb 07, 2012
Missiles are pretty expensive and take much longer to load. Drones are also expensive pieces of hardware that will eventually be countered by better and cheaper AA systems that filter down to lower tech armies...


drones. weren't they in the news recently as having been hacked?
Bob_Kob
1 / 5 (3) Feb 07, 2012
The key issue nobody has discussed is how is it aimed? Unlike a conventional barrel, it has complex windings and electrical conduits to energise the barrel. Keeping the whole thing rotatable seems really difficult to do since it is so large..
Sanescience
2 / 5 (4) Feb 07, 2012
My concern is that much like aircraft carriers made battleships obsolete, further developments in sea and air drone developments will make "big guns" further moot.

That said... there may come a time when high velocity shells may become delivery systems to place drone assets into a situation that otherwise would not have them.
kochevnik
1 / 5 (7) Feb 07, 2012
This even beats the crank posts from Omar, raw1, and kevenrts!
So how much will you wager that you are right? You are claiming that Scientific American did NOT ever mention scalar weapons, correct? Apparently I get around a lot more than you. Like, being there while you don't know even what you're talking about.
n0ns3ns0r
1 / 5 (3) Feb 07, 2012
The main problem is finding a way to quickly replace the metal used after each firing. The high temperatures easily oxidize whatever metal is being used. Imagine firing a conventional chemical based gun and needing to replace the barrel and the cartridge after each shot. That is the challenge. The railgun will ultimately be cost prohibitive.
enigma13x
not rated yet Feb 07, 2012
was just thinking that if the armature was on a looped track with another waiting to be redeployed could reduce reloading time but then there is still the problem of the capacitors charging
scintilla
not rated yet Feb 07, 2012
One megajoule of energy is equivalent to a 1-ton car traveling at 100 miles per hour.

This does not make any sense. Do they mean the energy expended to accelerate a car to that speed from zero?


E = 1/2 m v^2
Johannes_H_Larsen
not rated yet Feb 07, 2012

Missiles aren't superior when you consider that the railgun shells get to the target much much faster than a missile would. And the problem with directed energy weapons is that they can't hit anything over the horizon, i.e. not in the line-of-sight.

Projectiles follow an arc, not line of sight
Ryan1981
1 / 5 (2) Feb 07, 2012
I wonder if this technology, somewhat modified perhaps, could be used to launch stuff (e.g. radioactive waste) in to space :D. Guess one will have to overcome the friction heat of the atmosphere.
SimonZ
not rated yet Feb 07, 2012
"One megajoule of energy is equivalent to a 1-ton car traveling at 100 miles per hour."

And 32 megajoules is equivalent to a 1-ton car traveling at nearly 600 mph. Picture the damage that can cause.

Also: The article tells us that it will launch projectiles at a speeds of around 5000mph (2200m/s). What size projectile are we talking about here? With energy of 32MJ, projectile must have a mass of about 13kg (29 lb) (not accounting for inefficiencies).

32MJ ~~ 1/2 x 13kg x (2200m/s)^2
Lurker2358
1.6 / 5 (8) Feb 07, 2012
The railgun is a rather useless piece of military hardware (even though it's a nice piece of tech).


All Navy vessels currently in existence still boast conventional, chemical propelled ballistic artillery which typically has a range of about 20 miles, even though most are armed with "superior" cruise missiles.

Why?

Because all modern navy vessels are also armed with chainguns and anti-missile missiles, AND we even have Directed Energy Weapons now, making the cruise missiles useless.

Having a 60km range advantage for your ballistic artillery is priceless, because a laser or a chain gun can't shoot that down. The muzzle velocity is about 10 times that of a high powered rifle.

Additionally, Cruise missiles cost about a million dollars each.

A piece of Aluminum costs a couple hundred dollars.

Having fewer explosive ballistic rounds on your ship makes you less vulnerable to accidents and secondary explosions, which is another plus for the rail gun.
DaFranker
1.7 / 5 (6) Feb 07, 2012
What people who say the railgun is useless compared to laserlike weaponry, drones and missiles seem to fail to take into account is how all those next-gen weapons technologies will interact with eachother.

Picture this: You have two ships each armed with missiles, conventional artillery, a group of interlinked drones with the optional ability to go into autistic mode to avoid hacking, several railguns, and several "beam weapons".

If you attack with missiles, beam weapons shoot them down. If you send drones, beam weapons or missiles will take them down, forcing you to use your beams and missiles to provide cover for the drones while the drones duke it out with the enemy drones. Conventional artillery fails to hit the target. Beam weapons fail to pierce the armor. Railguns... oh wait. Railgun projectiles don't get intercepted in this scenario, and are the only thing causing actual damage to the enemy vessel.

Any comparison is incomplete unless interaction is taken into account.
Lurker2358
1 / 5 (5) Feb 07, 2012
Also: The article tells us that it will launch projectiles at a speeds of around 5000mph (2200m/s). What size projectile are we talking about here? With energy of 32MJ, projectile must have a mass of about 13kg (29 lb) (not accounting for inefficiencies).

32MJ ~~ 1/2 x 13kg x (2200m/s)^2


Correct.

It is a ROD of Aluminum alloy which is designed to PENETRATE straight through...anything...

When this hits a concrete wall, or even a steel armor plate, regardless of the composition it passes right through it like a hot knife through butter. Yes, cliche is accurate.

Some of the kinetic energy is released as a fireball as the rod dissassociates the air molecules along it's path and as it contacts the target.

This round can probably pass clean through an M1A1 tank from front to rear through the most heavily armored parts.

It can penetrate the hull of some battleships, or could score a direct hit on a gun well or arsenal and destroy the ship.
Lurker2358
1.6 / 5 (8) Feb 07, 2012
This test here is an 8mj prototype.

http://www.youtub...lTXwLG40

This is way more flexible, long ranged, and destructive than antialias seems to realize.
Lurker2358
2 / 5 (9) Feb 07, 2012
The shotgun variant discussed in that video would wipe out an entire batallion of infantry, or demolish a convoy of supply trucks and transport vehicles in ONE shot.

You can't really miss with a 5000mph rail that explodes a few hundred meters above ground and sprays everything within a 100meter radius or so.

too complicated?

Not really.

Our Navy and airforce already select the precise size of the warhead used on our modern GPS and laser guided bombs and missiles, so no, it's not that big a problem to micro-manage this and choose when to use a rifle variant shot and when to use a shotgun variant. The logistics and basic framework for that level of micromanagement are already in place in our military.
axemaster
1 / 5 (1) Feb 07, 2012
Projectiles follow an arc, not line of sight

That's exactly what I said.

Against surface targets, I don't see how the slug can even hit a target that far out; the curvature of the earth will get in the way, again unless the slug can maneuver.

Um... you might want to revisit basic mechanics. It can hit things over the horizon with no problem.

If the slug does hit a ship's magazine, it's going to release a lot of kinetic energy. Boom.

Yeah, but it's a lot better to have a hole in your ship than having the ship explode into a million pieces by having several tons of explosives going off inside it. Right???

At 4500 miles per hour, the shell will travel 75 miles per minute. It will take over two minutes to reach a target 200 miles away.

So you think that the targets are moving 24 hours a day right? Wait what?

Honestly, these are some of strangest objections I've ever seen...
Newbeak
5 / 5 (2) Feb 07, 2012

Missiles aren't superior when you consider that the railgun shells get to the target much much faster than a missile would. And the problem with directed energy weapons is that they can't hit anything over the horizon, i.e. not in the line-of-sight.

You don't need over the horizon capability for ship defense.BTW,I recall reading that lasers COULD be fired over the horizon if drones with airborne mirrors were used to redirect the beam.
Burnerjack
3 / 5 (2) Feb 07, 2012
I wonder if this is a spin off of the new generation catapult system, furthermore, could or should this technology be used as the first stage of acceleration for unmanned spacecraft? Given sufficient length, maybe even manned craft as well. Possible hurling supplies to an L5 point.
kochevnik
1 / 5 (8) Feb 07, 2012
So, after almost 30 years, no fundamental improvements on Ronald Raygun's toy.
Newbeak
5 / 5 (2) Feb 07, 2012
The key issue nobody has discussed is how is it aimed? Unlike a conventional barrel, it has complex windings and electrical conduits to energise the barrel. Keeping the whole thing rotatable seems really difficult to do since it is so large..

Well,if fired from a ship,the whole ship could be steered so it faced the target,and the barrel could be held level by gyroscopes,just like tanks use to fire on the move.
Newbeak
5 / 5 (2) Feb 07, 2012
I wonder if this technology, somewhat modified perhaps, could be used to launch stuff (e.g. radioactive waste) in to space :D. Guess one will have to overcome the friction heat of the atmosphere.

Yeah,that is probably the best use of the technology.It's no good for putting people into orbit,as they would arrive as red paste at the back of the vehicle.If launches of radioactive waste took place on high ground,say on mountain tops,that would deal with most of the atmospheric heating problem.You would just have to add a small rocket motor to achieve orbit.
Estevan57
2.1 / 5 (21) Feb 07, 2012
I am in agreement with JamesK on the utility of the railgun vs missiles. The nature of the railgun acceleration would be more condusive to the survival of targeting hardware and software within the projectiles. With the vast increase in kinetic energy due to the speed of the projectile, a smaller shell can be used, and still maintain the striking power of a larger shell.
Newbeak
5 / 5 (2) Feb 07, 2012
I suspect the biggest advantage of the railgun is its ability to more 'gently' accelerate a projectile by minimizing jerk (third derivative of position WRT time). A railgun could have a lower maximum acceleration, as well as much lower jerk, as the projectile is accelerated down the length of the barrel.

No,the railgun's rate of acceleration will be real bitch that would make the ride out of a conventional gun look positively tame in comparison.You just have to consider the fact that the projectile goes from zero to a muzzle velocity of up to Mach 10 in the length of a long cannon barrel,and to do that requires HUGE acceleration.
Deathclock
1.5 / 5 (8) Feb 07, 2012
I suspect the biggest advantage of the railgun is its ability to more 'gently' accelerate a projectile by minimizing jerk (third derivative of position WRT time). A railgun could have a lower maximum acceleration, as well as much lower jerk, as the projectile is accelerated down the length of the barrel.

No,the railgun's rate of acceleration will be real bitch that would make the ride out of a conventional gun look positively tame in comparison.You just have to consider the fact that the projectile goes from zero to a muzzle velocity of up to Mach 10 in the length of a long cannon barrel,and to do that requires HUGE acceleration.


It's smooth acceleration, producing smaller peak g-forces than a traditional explosion propelled projectile.
enigma13x
3 / 5 (1) Feb 07, 2012
just thinking what if you suspended the pojectile in a magnetic field and then accelerated the projectile with magnetic impulse to launch might work with out damage to the rail because there would not be one or damage to the barrel because there would be no friction
enigma13x
not rated yet Feb 07, 2012
of course there would be a massive use of power which could be satisfied by a nuclear reactor on board just a thought
Vendicar_Decarian
3 / 5 (2) Feb 08, 2012
The faster America is bankrupted by the Military Industrial Complex, the better.
Newbeak
3 / 5 (4) Feb 08, 2012

It's smooth acceleration, producing smaller peak g-forces than a traditional explosion propelled projectile.

Sorry,I guess you didn't do very well in high-school physics.Smoothness has nothing to do with it.Again,if you accelerate an object from rest to Mach 10 in 20 or 30 feet,the forces on the object will be enormous until it is up to maximum speed,even more than the forces on an object going down the barrel of a conventional cannon.
Deathclock
1.9 / 5 (9) Feb 08, 2012

It's smooth acceleration, producing smaller peak g-forces than a traditional explosion propelled projectile.

Sorry,I guess you didn't do very well in high-school physics.Smoothness has nothing to do with it.Again,if you accelerate an object from rest to Mach 10 in 20 or 30 feet,the forces on the object will be enormous until it is up to maximum speed,even more than the forces on an object going down the barrel of a conventional cannon.


No need for the ad-homs child.

In a conventional cannon the majority of the acceleration occurs in the first inch... the explosion produces tremendous g-forces and tremendous initial acceleration. The acceleration in a traditional cannon is NOT evenly spread out across the length of the barrel like it would be in a rail gun.

Sorry...
Newbeak
4 / 5 (4) Feb 08, 2012

In a conventional cannon the majority of the acceleration occurs in the first inch... the explosion produces tremendous g-forces and tremendous initial acceleration. The acceleration in a traditional cannon is NOT evenly spread out across the length of the barrel like it would be in a rail gun.

Sorry...

Sorry,didn't meant to insult,but really,you are saying in the first inch,most of the acceleration to muzzle velocity occurs? I can't buy that,as the acceleration of the projectile would be approaching infinity if that were the case,as would the g-forces on the shell.It is a common misconception that gunpowder explodes in the process of pushing the shell down the barrel,when in fact cordite gunpowder burns quickly,but not explosively,and produces gas which gives impetus to the projectile.If gunpowder exploded,it would reliably burst the gun barrel.So,yes,the acceleration IS progressive as gas is produced by the burning gunpowder.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (10) Feb 08, 2012
The faster America is bankrupted by the Military Industrial Complex, the better.
America IS the military industrial complex. And so much more.

Youll be thanking them one day.
Newbeak
5 / 5 (3) Feb 08, 2012
The faster America is bankrupted by the Military Industrial Complex, the better.
America IS the military industrial complex. And so much more.

Youll be thanking them one day.

Yes,Ike warned us,and we didn't listen..
Deathclock
1.9 / 5 (9) Feb 09, 2012
the acceleration of the projectile would be approaching infinity if that were the case


It would approach infinity if I had said the bullet is instantaneously accelerated to its muzzle velocity... I did not say that.

It is a common misconception that gunpowder explodes


There's no difference between an explosion and a rapid expansion... that's what the word means, how rapid rapid must be to qualify as an explosion is arbitrary (I'm sure there is some defined rate but really, it's meaningless).

the acceleration IS progressive


Of course it is progressive... but it is non-uniform. One goal of the design is to ensure that there is little if any pressure remaining behind the bullet as it exits the barrel, as it would be wasted energy. Since there is no pressure as the bullet leaves the barrel the acceleration at that point is zero (ideally). Acceleration starts high then drops to zero by the time the bullet exits the barrel.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (10) Feb 09, 2012
I wonder if this technology, somewhat modified perhaps, could be used to launch stuff (e.g. radioactive waste) in to space :D. Guess one will have to overcome the friction heat of the atmosphere.

Yeah,that is probably the best use of the technology.It's no good for putting people into orbit,as they would arrive as red paste at the back of the vehicle.If launches of radioactive waste took place on high ground,say on mountain tops,that would deal with most of the atmospheric heating problem.You would just have to add a small rocket motor to achieve orbit.
Suggest you do a little research before posting?
http://www.popsci...ft-orbit
kochevnik
1 / 5 (8) Feb 09, 2012
Such a reaction some of the more nefarious had to my first post. Laughable. Just plain facts that got the warrior's panties in a twist. They can't prove me wrong they can only whine and cry like infants. The truth hurts.
antialias_physorg
3.7 / 5 (3) Feb 09, 2012
Suggest you do a little research before posting?
http://www.popsci...ft-orbit

At 6g that track would get the plane to just over 600 meters per second. Certainly a boost, but only pittance compared to what the jet then must accomplish.

They say that the craft only accelerates at 3g and gets to 1100mph (1770 km/h) at the end of the track.
This is about 0.5km/s
Far from the needed 11km/s.
The vast majority of the speed/lift/energy has to be done by the scramjet. It's a cool combination (and I think they should definitely build it) but the electromagnetic rail part is not much better than a gentle nudge to get to takeoff speeds.

The rationale behind the rail is not to get to orbit, but that scramjets aren't any good at low speeds. With the rail you can forego adding a secondary propulsion system.
antialias_physorg
3.7 / 5 (3) Feb 09, 2012
The two craft can be ready for another mission within 24 hours of landing.

Where have I heard that one before? That sounds so familiar...Oh right...it was from the original space shuttle PR back in the 80s.
Newbeak
5 / 5 (1) Feb 09, 2012
Suggest you do a little research before posting?
http://www.popsci...ft-orbit

I was thinking about a railgun equivalent to the weaponized system the navy is developing,which will have wicked acceleration.What you refer to is certainly worth pursuing.
kochevnik
1 / 5 (5) Feb 09, 2012
Ronald "Raygun" was promoting particle beam devices. Totally different technology. If you were allowed free press, you would have known that as well.
Yo we too had US journals and, unlike you, actually READ them. That's why I can pull quotes and make you look foolish.

Now your latest J-35 Joint Strike fighters are regarded as garbage. They are inferior to Russian fighters and Chinese radar. You know, when Americans can't even produce decent death machines, you know its all over for the empire.

"New Russian and Chinese air defence radars would also have little trouble detecting the JSF, a craft touted for its stealth qualities." :)

"Latest-generation Russian fighters such as the Sukhoi T-50 would easily defeat the F-35 in air-to-air combat", Air Power's Peter Goon said, referring to recent modelling tests by his organization.

"The aircraft we are planning to buy is carrying over 2000 pounds (900kg) of dead weight," Mr Goon said, referring to the JSF's big jet engines.
kochevnik
1 / 5 (7) Feb 09, 2012
America IS the military industrial complex.
Is ONLY.
And so much more.
Sorry can't go there.
You'll be thanking them one day.
More like watching their flailing empire crumble.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (9) Feb 09, 2012
At 6g that track would get the plane to just over 600 meters per second. Certainly a boost, but only pittance compared to what the jet then must accomplish.
Dont know if this is any different?
http://www.nasa.g...nch.html

I also dont know how this would compare to rutans belly-launched vehicle. His would be more versatile, but maybe this would have a greater capacity?
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.3 / 5 (12) Feb 09, 2012
America IS the military industrial complex.
Is ONLY.
And so much more.
Sorry can't go there.
You'll be thanking them one day.
More like watching their flailing empire crumble.
You have gorged on propaganda which has left you myopic and naive. You believe what you want - what should we expect?

This is still a VERY dangerous world. You have many enemies to the south. Their explosive growthrates mean that your country WILL be fighting them soon, as they have had to do in the past. It will not be so easy this time kamerad.

Every generation declares that it is finally too civilized, too educated, too rational, too altruistic to ever fight another war. And then along comes an enemy that it absolutely HAS to fight. How does that work?
kochevnik
1.4 / 5 (9) Feb 10, 2012
This is still a VERY dangerous world. You have many enemies to the south. Their explosive growthrates mean that your country WILL be fighting them soon, as they have had to do in the past.
And you must examine the possibility that we are in a materially different age and circumstance, that history can only partially address. Now pandemics with 60% kill rates can spread around the globe ACCIDENTALLY in a day. Imagine the surprise element were that dispensed deliberately in wartime. Fanatic, intolerant hordes have an Achilles heel: density. Disease is mutating to spread worldwide in the rich new niches of airplane cabins. Clustered populations big on stupid ritual and small on science and hygiene are much softer targets for the next virulent strain. Cold northern latitudes offer a natural barrier unavailable to easterners. Besides we have many allies in the south. Any axis alignment can be readily subterfuged. For example the CIA color revolutions were easily exposed.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (9) Feb 10, 2012
So whats your point? Are you saying the US fights wars wrongly, that we should be relying on biowarfare instead?? That would be wrong. But since its inevitable we ought to make sure that WHEN it happens it does not endanger critical infrastructure yes?

The world wars emptied the eurasian continent in advance of the emergence of nuclear weapons. Imagine if those wars had happened AFTER that tech had proliferated? Those wars were Timed and Staged to make the world safe for this dangerous tech, whose Time had come.

Shouldnt we be expecting a similar series of Events to make the world safe for this next development? A few well-Designed preemptive pandemics perhaps?
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (9) Feb 10, 2012
Fragment #3 --
Scholiast on Homer, Il. i. 5:
`There was a time when the countless tribes of men, though wide- dispersed, oppressed the surface of the deep-bosomed earth, and Zeus saw it and had pity and in his wise heart resolved to relieve the all-nurturing earth of men by causing the great struggle of the Ilian war, that the load of death might empty the world. And so the heroes were slain in Troy, and the plan of Zeus came to pass.'

Perhaps we should start with cultures such as this:

"A 23-year-old Saudi Twitter user, Hamza Kashgari, fled the country Sunday...

"On Saturday, the anniversary of the prophet Muhammad's birthday, Kashgari tweeted three times, expressing his religious beliefs about the founder of Islam. Within hours, he was inundated with violent threats. Despite a full renunciation, a warrant was issued by kingdom authorities for his arrest and the Kingdom's religious Fatwa Council condemned him as an apostate and an infidel, crimes which are punishable by death."
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (10) Feb 10, 2012
-After all, if they feel it is necessary to execute one detractor for what were obviously pretty tame tweets, what would they want to do to entire cultures who think their religion is nonsense?

Any of these guys allies of your country perhaps? No wait - the saudis are with the US, thats right. Hey maybe your allies could fight our allies and we both feed them arms and materiel with which to slaughter themselves? Sound familiar?

"And to Gabriel said the Lord: 'Proceed against the bastards and the reprobates, and against the children of fornication: and destroy [the children of fornication and] the children of the Watchers from amongst men [and cause them to go forth]: send them one against the other that they may destroy each other in battle..." -Book of Enoch Book 10: Watchers

Win-win.
Bog_Mire
2.1 / 5 (7) Feb 10, 2012
The GoO - how can you be so certain a giant calamity such as WWII can have been orchestrated?
baudrunner
1.7 / 5 (6) Feb 11, 2012
The government is looking for newer better weapons. Cool.

The focussed sonic penetrator/disruptor is very damaging. They work like phased array radar, only the application requires different wave guide software. But they can, in their perfect confguration, blow things up with the least energy expenditure.
Osiris1
1 / 5 (4) Feb 11, 2012
Heeyyyyy, as long as they can do thaaaat, scale it UP so that they can launch loads into space.....25,000 mi/hr! Use a really long acceleration path, about a half a mile, say. Have to make the track REAL straight.
Lurker2358
1.9 / 5 (9) Feb 11, 2012
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So...how many hookers does your roommate's aunt have working for her?
kochevnik
1 / 5 (7) Feb 11, 2012
So, in short, no progress by the Americans in 26 years. Probably all advancements are being outsourced and imported.
mrcoldheart
1 / 5 (2) Feb 11, 2012
I think a few of you might be conceptualizing this wrong or maybe I'm at fault.
If the propulsion is handled by pure electromagnetism why would there be a recoil?
kochevnik
1 / 5 (6) Feb 11, 2012
If the propulsion is handled by pure electromagnetism why would there be a recoil?
Momentum is conserved but kinetic energy is efficiently transferred to the projectile due to the short-timeframe impulse capability of electromagnetics. At least I suspect there is a time dependency. The mass ratio of the gun and projectile being the key.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (11) Feb 11, 2012
how can you be so certain a giant calamity such as WWII can have been orchestrated?
Because of all the extreme Benefits it produced.
-It destroyed all the medieval religionist cultures throughout eurasia which would have resisted the ONE BILLION abortions which have taken place mostly in these regions
-It gave the west the Impetus to create vast fissionables stockpiles
-It spread megapower influence over the entire world
etc

-One need only start to consider the alternatives in light of technological change and the extremely unstable nature of populations throughout the affected areas, to realize that they happened at exactly the right time, and in exactly the proper ways, to make our continued survival and Progress possible.

But if you study events prior to the wars with the idea that these events happened to Prepare for them; and if you study the wars themselves with the understanding that they were continuously Managed to ensure the Planned result, most questions are answered
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (11) Feb 11, 2012
how can you be so certain a giant calamity
Throughout all of human history war has ALWAYS been inevitable. 'A species will always produce more offspring than can be expected to survive to maturity.'
http://www.nytime...imp.html

-If you accept that war is absolutely inevitable, as ancient rulers must have done, then you must realize that the only way to preserve all that is vital to human progress is to Accomodate war.

Throughout the middle east are found city mounds which record the growth, decay, collapse, and rebirth of civilization. This would have only continued; and humanity today would exist in small crude settlements widely separated by uninhabitable wasteland.

This did not happen. War was domesticated along with the wild tropical apes who would always wage it. Wars now Benefit rather than endanger; promote Stability and Progress rather than endanger it.

TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (10) Feb 11, 2012
Make no mistake - without war there will still be war. Only the west can end it for good, by Managing population growth. Abortion, family planning, and cultures which can offer compelling alternatives to the traditional human prerogative of producing large families, are the only ways to end war.

Neanderthal, like any species, most likely adapted to its temperate/subarctic environs by reproducing seasonally. This is most likely why it could not resist the onslaught of the tropical cro mags who could outreproduce and overrun them.

We display this tendency culturally in the tradition of june weddings, and at some point, if we were to evolve like any other animal, it would become a genetic prerequisite. But as humans are not evolving naturally, this adaptation must be accomplished artificially.

Soon enough reproduction will be outsourced and humans will no longer be burdened with the overwhelming urge to procreate which indeed causes most all of our problems.
HydraulicsNath
not rated yet Feb 11, 2012
1.21 GIGAWATTS??!! but that's outrageous!! (B2F Reference)
_nigmatic10
1 / 5 (3) Feb 11, 2012
This is the ground work. The next step is incorporating guidance tech into a munitions that can travel at such high speed.
Noodle_Naut
1 / 5 (6) Feb 11, 2012
I think the only real application of this weapon is space. I am not convinced of any utility on a ship. I wonder if it can even shoot strait. The bullet is not round or aerodynamic and most shots will deform the bullet. That bullet will do all sorts of unpredictable things in the air.

And if they want to avoid using explosives in existing guns I am sure they could retrofit them to use some compressed air or something made as needed; say hydrogen from seawater. Congress is retarded. The military should be able to veto any military program/weapon system. Better to identify the areas and capabilities you need and use the most economic solution. This isn't. It should be killed again.
The Navy decided they did not need big guns...what has changed? They still don't need big guns.

And is this wise, why make something that may antiquate your whole existing military? We have the best, make changes and the secrets will get out and then others will have the edge. We pay R&D they get it free.
abclark
5 / 5 (2) Feb 12, 2012
5000 mph is only 7333 ft/sec. (I had to convert it to compare it to bullets.)
That's fast, but just twice as fast as a high powered rifle. Somehow I thought it would be faster, but i guess if the projectile weighs enough it makes up for it :)
I wonder if it has trajectory ballistics similar to a bullet?
It would be interesting to check out a drop or windage chart, if they ever release one.
typicalguy
not rated yet Feb 12, 2012
A lot of people think recoil is a problem. In a gun, the explosion is kinetic. People are confusing this with traditional weapons. Have you ever been to an amuzement park and ridden a ride with horizontal acceleration? That's the kind that doesn't crank you up a hill and drop you. You just shoot from 0 to 80 in seconds. They aren't firing you with gunpowder, they using electric/magnetic like the rail gun. If you put a strong magnet next to metal, there is no recoil, they just come together with a bang. In the roller coaster example, if there was the recoil necessary from explosives to fire it that fast that quickly, the ride would fall apart before the first day off operations is over. They are attached to the electric grid though and this gun won't be.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (10) Feb 12, 2012
I wonder if it has trajectory ballistics similar to a bullet?
It would be interesting to check out a drop or windage chart, if they ever release one.
M1A2 120mm smoothbore cannon:
"Typical velocities of APFSDS rounds vary between manufacturers and muzzle length/types. As a typical example, the American General Dynamics KEW-A1 has a muzzle velocity of 1,740 m/s (5,700 ft/s). This compares to 914 m/s (3,000 ft/s) for a typical rifle (small arms) round. APFSDS rounds generally operate in the range of 1,400 to 1,900 m/s."
Deathclock
1.9 / 5 (9) Feb 13, 2012
A lot of people think recoil is a problem. In a gun, the explosion is kinetic. People are confusing this with traditional weapons.


Equal and opposite reactions. The same energy that goes into accelerating the projectile in one direction goes into accelerating the rail gun in the opposite direction. Obviously the rail gun itself has significantly greater mass than the projectile so it won't go shooting backward with the same velocity as the projectile has going forward... but... that's what recoil is, and the rail gun will have recoil like any other projectile shooter.