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Author Topic: With a Bang, Navy Begins Tests on EM Railgun Prototype Launcher  (Read 1034 times)

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Offline Ken

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With a Bang, Navy Begins Tests on EM Railgun Prototype Launcher
« on: February 29, 2012, 11:01:08 AM »
http://www.navy.mil/search/display.asp?story_id=65577

               
With a Bang, Navy Begins Tests on EM Railgun Prototype Launcher

Story Number: NNS120228-16      Release Date: 2/28/2012 12:53:00 PM

By Grace Jean, Office of Naval Research

ARLINGTON, Va. (NNS) -- Engineers have fired the Navy's first industry-built electromagnetic railgun (EM Railgun) prototype launcher at a test facility, commencing an evaluation that is an important intermediate step toward a future tactical weapon for ships, officials announced Feb. 28.

The firing at Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD) kicks off a two- month-long test series by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) to evaluate the first of two industry-built launchers. The tests will bring the Navy closer to a new naval gun system capable of extended ranges against surface, air and ground targets.

"We are starting our full-energy tests to evaluate the barrel life and structural integrity of the prototype system," said Roger Ellis, program manager of the EM Railgun, part of ONR's Naval Air Warfare and Weapons Department. "It's the next step toward a future tactical system."

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.

The 32-megajoule prototype demonstrator, built by BAE Systems, arrived at NSWCDD on Jan. 30. One megajoule of energy is equivalent to a 1-ton car being thrust at 100 mph. The prototype-which now looks more like a naval weapon compared to previous lab-style launchers-is the first of two industry-built launchers to be delivered to the Navy. General Atomics is building the second launcher, scheduled for delivery in April. ONR previously relied upon laboratory-built systems to advance the technology.

After installing the BAE Systems launcher and outfitting it with a comprehensive suite of sensors, high-speed cameras and measuring devices, engineers fired successful low-energy test shots to prepare it for the evaluation. The team will conduct tests at 20 megajoules and 32 megajoules, shooting test projectiles similar to what was previously fired through NSWCDD's laboratory launcher.

"The test series will characterize the gun's performance by shooting several rounds through the barrel at various energy levels to fully exercise the capabilities of the prototype," said Ellis.

When fully developed, the EM Railgun will give Sailors a dramatically increased multimission capability. Its increased velocity and extended range over traditional shipboard weapons will allow them to conduct precise, long-range naval surface fire support for land strikes; ship self-defense against cruise and ballistic missiles; and surface warfare to deter enemy vessels. The Navy's near-term goal is a 20- to 32-megajoule weapon that shoots a distance of 50 to 100 nautical miles.

To achieve this, the Navy is moving ahead with the EM Railgun program's next phase: to develop thermal management systems for both the launcher and pulsed power to facilitate increased firing rates of up to 10 rounds per minute. Toward this end, BAE and General Atomics have been contracted to begin concept design of a next-generation thermally managed launcher.

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

Additionally, ONR awarded contracts through Naval Sea Systems Command to General Atomics, BAE Systems and Raytheon Co. to develop a pulsed power system capable of meeting the firing rate goal.

Various new and existing ship platforms are currently being analyzed for future integration.

ONR provides the science and technology necessary to maintain the Navy and Marine Corps' technological advantage. Through its affiliates, ONR is a leader in science and technology with engagement in 50 states, 70 countries, 1,035 institutions of higher learning and 914 industry partners. ONR employs approximately 1,400 people, comprising uniformed, civilian and contract personnel, with additional employees at the Naval Research Lab in Washington, D.C.

For more information, visit www.navy.mil, www.facebook.com/usnavy, or www.twitter.com/usnavy.

For more news from Office of Naval Research, visit www.navy.mil/local/onr/.
“If mankind is to survive, then throughout man’s history except for a very few years the word “ship” will mean “space ship.”
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Offline Bill Quick

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Re: With a Bang, Navy Begins Tests on EM Railgun Prototype Launcher
« Reply #1 on: February 29, 2012, 07:54:16 PM »
I've kinda kept an eye on these developments, which have been ongoing.

Railguns change the whole nature of the battleship game.
"You can get a lot farther with a kind word and a gun than a kind word alone."  --   Al Capone


Offline Ken

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Re: With a Bang, Navy Begins Tests on EM Railgun Prototype Launcher
« Reply #2 on: March 01, 2012, 12:19:15 AM »
Yeah, the thing was built, here in Austin, and was a joint project, with BAE, ONR, and UofTexas.

The railguns are so very Cool!
“If mankind is to survive, then throughout man’s history except for a very few years the word “ship” will mean “space ship.”
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Offline Langenator

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Re: With a Bang, Navy Begins Tests on EM Railgun Prototype Launcher
« Reply #3 on: March 01, 2012, 12:09:52 PM »
Now, what kind of powerplant would be required for a ship carrying one (or more) of these things?

I'm guessing they'd want to take the whole fleet nuclear at that point.

Now, while it may alter the 'battleship' game (which nobody's really been playing for quite a while, anyway), I'm not sure if it really revolutionizes it.

What you get is the ability to put a gun that can sling shells as big as the old 16" shells (which weighed about 2000 lbs) on a much lighter platform, because you don't have to worry about recoil.  And now you can throw those shells further.  And at a higher rate of fire per barrel (which means you can have fewer guns for the same throw weight.)

But even if they get to an effective range of 100 miles, they still can't reach as far as a carrier loaded with F/A-18s.

Now, I'd love to see one that can launch much smaller projectiles, and a much higher ROF, that's able to reach high enough to use against those terminally homing ballistic missiles China is rumored to be working on.  Doesn't take a very big piece of steel to trash a missile when you hit it at a closing speed well over Mach 10.  Of course, the whole "hitting a bullet with a bullet" thing is a challenge, for sure.  Thus the need for a high ROF.
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Offline xtron

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Re: With a Bang, Navy Begins Tests on EM Railgun Prototype Launcher
« Reply #4 on: March 01, 2012, 04:02:07 PM »
N.P. langenator..
a 5 inch version rail gun...or one this sized firing a 5 inch sabot type load should get you the altitude and range you are looking for....and just to make things interesting...add a shotgun type load that bursts at a predetermined point throwing dozens, or hundreds of 1 inch steel balls into the incoming missles path.
like you said, at mach 10 it dosen't take too much to destroy you

Offline Ken

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Re: With a Bang, Navy Begins Tests on EM Railgun Prototype Launcher
« Reply #5 on: March 01, 2012, 06:46:47 PM »
A thought....

The railgun should be able to launch mini-ramjet rounds, so it should be able to go a lot farther and faster.
“If mankind is to survive, then throughout man’s history except for a very few years the word “ship” will mean “space ship.”
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Offline lpdbw

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Re: With a Bang, Navy Begins Tests on EM Railgun Prototype Launcher
« Reply #6 on: March 02, 2012, 02:23:02 AM »
Quote
because you don't have to worry about recoil.
Think about this.

Accelerate a  mass in one direction, Newton requires equivalent force in the other.
Whether it's chemical or electrical makes no difference.

The exception, sort of, is self-propelled projectiles, like rockets.  The principle still applies, but it's the exhaust gases receiving the opposing force, not the platform.

Offline Ken

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Re: With a Bang, Navy Begins Tests on EM Railgun Prototype Launcher
« Reply #7 on: March 02, 2012, 11:20:34 AM »
Ramjets need to be traveling at over 800mph, for any reasonable thrust, and are most efficient at Mach 5.5-6.  They are a lot less complex then rockets or normal jet engines.

Hmmm, there have been scramjets (airflow not slowed to under supersonic speeds) tested for over 200 seconds at Mach 5. (3806mph)  That's over 211 miles.
« Last Edit: March 02, 2012, 11:24:45 AM by Ken »
“If mankind is to survive, then throughout man’s history except for a very few years the word “ship” will mean “space ship.”
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Offline North

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Re: With a Bang, Navy Begins Tests on EM Railgun Prototype Launcher
« Reply #8 on: March 02, 2012, 03:04:20 PM »
I never did understand why people think the various EM guns (rail guns, coil guns, et al.) don't have recoil, but it seems to be a fairly common belief.  Would be nice, unfortunately conservation of momentum steps in and forces the matter.

Anyhow, the navy had been working on some Scramshells for the 5" back when I was in... here are a couple things mentioning it;

http://articles.janes.com/articles/Janes-Navy-International-96/TI-TO-DEVELOP-EX-171-ERGM.html 
http://www.fas.org/man/dod-101/sys/ship/weaps/docs/tart3prnt.html


Offline Ken

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Re: With a Bang, Navy Begins Tests on EM Railgun Prototype Launcher
« Reply #9 on: March 02, 2012, 10:38:22 PM »
I had a friend that worked on a navigation systems for reentering warheads, back in the 80's. (non-military math/computer guy.)

I don't know if it was ever implemented.....

But it had 4 military grade gps receivers tied to a computer systems.  And even at rocket speeds, it was accurate within a centimeter/second.

I'm pretty sure we could ruggedize and miniaturize such a system to place it in a scramjet shell.
« Last Edit: March 02, 2012, 10:45:52 PM by Ken »
“If mankind is to survive, then throughout man’s history except for a very few years the word “ship” will mean “space ship.”
Arthur C. Clarke

Offline StuckInLAWithZombies

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Re: With a Bang, Navy Begins Tests on EM Railgun Prototype Launcher
« Reply #10 on: March 08, 2012, 12:39:32 PM »
The advantage of the railgun has nothing to do with recoil, as folks have already pointed out. The advantages are range, speed, and smaller storage needed for projectiles, since with no propellant load needed, the bunkers are smaller. Also, since they are largely kinetic kill vehicles, there is no or a smaller explosive warhead to detonate.

Thus if your ship is hit in the weapons battery, there is less chance of a spectacular secondary explosion taking out your vessel. Not none, since the large batteries and capacitors needed can explode or burn, but a lot less.

Offline Echo Alpha

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Re: With a Bang, Navy Begins Tests on EM Railgun Prototype Launcher
« Reply #11 on: March 13, 2012, 11:05:41 PM »
Now, what kind of powerplant would be required for a ship carrying one (or more) of these things?

I'm guessing they'd want to take the whole fleet nuclear at that point.

Now, while it may alter the 'battleship' game (which nobody's really been playing for quite a while, anyway), I'm not sure if it really revolutionizes it.

What you get is the ability to put a gun that can sling shells as big as the old 16" shells (which weighed about 2000 lbs) on a much lighter platform, because you don't have to worry about recoil.  And now you can throw those shells further.  And at a higher rate of fire per barrel (which means you can have fewer guns for the same throw weight.)

But even if they get to an effective range of 100 miles, they still can't reach as far as a carrier loaded with F/A-18s.

Now, I'd love to see one that can launch much smaller projectiles, and a much higher ROF, that's able to reach high enough to use against those terminally homing ballistic missiles China is rumored to be working on.  Doesn't take a very big piece of steel to trash a missile when you hit it at a closing speed well over Mach 10.  Of course, the whole "hitting a bullet with a bullet" thing is a challenge, for sure.  Thus the need for a high ROF.
Sorry but the recoil is still there no matter the energy source used to accelerate the projectile and if you want my best guess long term smaller ships will use pulse MHD generators to supply the electricity and someone will quickly figure out that combinming an air-gas burn with the electric pulse acceleration is much smarter tan using a "bare" rail gun.


 

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