Skip to comments.Video - The Next Great Military Weapon, The Rail Gun
Posted on 02/10/2009 7:43:39 AM PST by Notoriously Conservative
(video on site)
Aim one of these babies at Osama Bin Laden's cave, or goat farm, and blamo!!! Nothing but the stench of burnt beard and turban.
The weapon, which was successfully tested in October at the King George County base, fires nonexplosive projectiles at incredible speeds, using electricity rather than gun powder.
The technology could increase the striking range of U.S. Navy ships more than tenfold by the year 2020.
"It's pretty amazing capability, and it went off without a hitch," said Capt. Joseph McGettigan, commander of NSWC Dahlgren Division.
"The biggest thing is it's real--not just something on the drawing board," he said.
The railgun works by sending electric current along parallel rails, creating an electromagnetic force so powerful it can fire a projectile at tremendous speed.
Because the gun uses electricity and not gunpowder to fire projectiles, it's safer, eliminating the possibility of explosions on ships and vehicles equipped with it.
Instead, a powerful pulse generator is used.
The prototype fired at Dahlgren is only an 8-megajoule electromagnetic device, but the one to be used on Navy ships will generate a massive 64 megajoules. Current Navy guns generate about 9 megajoules of muzzle energy.
The railgun's 200 to 250 nautical-mile range will allow Navy ships to strike deep in enemy territory while staying out of reach of hostile forces.
saw a prototype of this on a PBS science show back when I was about 16. That was a very long time ago.
Ummmm......I want one.......
The Navy has been playing with the things for 25 years or more.
Set these up on smaller vessels and a lot more of them and you have a lot more versatility and power projection.
It’s been developing for a while. But the first truly successful shot was in 2006.
Okay, question: How does it impart the stabilizing spin to the projectile? I’m assuming it’s some sort of bullet shaped projectile, or does it have mini fins for stability?
I am not a military person, but if a shell explodes on contact with target, and our shells are designed to be launched from a muzzle with 9 MJ of energy, wouldn’t multiplying the muzzle energy by 5 have a risk of making the shell think it is experiencing impact when it is being launched from a rail gun? I am sure they will design new shells, but it seems like we may be approaching some kind of physiscal limit here.
No, the battlewagons are hopelessly obsolete. This railgun requires enormous amounts of power to operate, and any “platform” which mounts it will have to have a totally integrated power system to feed it energy. The DDX was supposed to be that platform, but it is now history.
DDG-1000 class Zumwalt is built to accept a railgun if it ever becomes practical, but high voltage, high current, quick impulse is NOT benign.
I wonder how long before they make ‘em handgun size.
Actually, the Navy has been playing around with railgun technology since 1946, when it examined captured German designs, which were ultimately considered unfeasible since they required their own city-scale power systems to just fire one shot.
Not benign, BUT far less volatile than chemical propellants, which are serious fire hazards during seaborn combat operations.
No, silly person, this is an “untried unproven technology” according to Lord Obama (piss be upon him).
So are the M-2 and the 1911A1, they just happen to be superior to anything that has been suggested as a replacement. The advantage of the Iowa hulls is that they actually exist
I remember when Congress tanked the funding for R&D on them at LANL decades ago, but the theories were (and remain) sound (it was part of SDI, I think).
One of the guys told me that theoretically, they felt could hit the moon with a one pound projectile if they could get enough controlled electricity to pulse through it w/o burning up the entire mesa.
The National Labs built various bench-scale prototypes that shoot plastic projectiles w/embedded copper conductors, but I don't know of they have gone much beyond that. If I remember correctly, the velocities are in the high explosive range (22k+ FPS), which is what makes them so devastating downrange. All that kinetic energy in a relatively tiny projectile. They take an enormous amount of stored power, very rapidly discharged from charged capacitors to work. Not real efficient, but.....???? There have been videos of those for years.
Maybe some other office (DARPA??) expanded the program to develop actual deployable units, but who knows? They do knock some nice holes in armor.
The Pentagon considered fielding self-propelled rail guns (in the mid-late 80’s I think), but the power requirements were so great that they would have to pull or drive around a like-sized power generation unit for each artillery piece. Kind of cuts down their mobility.
Maybe now, the advances in battery and capacitor technology/materials would make it practical.
The hulls might be there, but the engines and electronics required to operate a 21st century weapon system aren’t. The battle wagon age is over.
“I am not a military person, but if a shell explodes on contact with target, and our shells are designed to be launched from a muzzle with 9 MJ of energy, wouldnt multiplying the muzzle energy by 5 have a risk of making the shell think it is experiencing impact when it is being launched from a rail gun?”
The projectiles are inert, meaning they carry no explosive. The destructive effect is strictly from kinetic energy.
One big advantage of this is that gun magazines (where the shells are stored) will no longer explode violently if hit in battle.
It would be an interesting exercise to modernize one for this duty. But it would cost. I could see replacing the engineering plant with diesel/turbine electric generators (gonna need power generation anyway), and the drive units from mechanical to electrical (why maintain boilers to power the drive steam turbines.
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