Skip to comments.U.S. Navy's Incredible, Sci-Fi Railgun Fires 1,000th Bullet
Posted on 11/03/2011 12:00:46 AM PDT by Windflier
Navy scientists with the Office of Naval Research (ONR) hit a new milestone, succesfully firing their electromagnetic railgun for the 1,000th time as the state-of-the-art weapon edges closer to real world deployment.
A theoretical dream for decades, the railgun is unlike any other weapon used in warfare. And though still in testing, it's quite real, as the U.S. Navy proved in a record-setting test Monday, Oct. 31, in Dahlgren, Va.
Rather than relying on a explosion to fire a projectile, it uses an electomagnetic current to accelerate a non-explosive bullet at several times the speed of sound. The conductive projectile zips along a set of electrically charged parallel rails and out of the barrel at speeds up to Mach 7.
(Excerpt) Read more at foxnews.com ...
Make one large enough and you could launch ballistic payloads at targets more than 1000mi distant. Would take a reactor
and a heck of a lot of BIG capacitors....would be fun to
see in action.
Yep, I read once that technology and technological capability doubles every 6 months (IIRC). I sure have seen it in the last few years, from railguns, to drones, to rayguns (yes, they have them), to invisible cloaking military vehicles, to wireless induction energy powered devices (like wifi, but with electricity, although, this was pioneered by Tesla, it’s being improved now), we truly live in a remarkable era. It truly is amazing, good, bad and ugly.
I bet they could have deployable fins and a guidance system, and make missile obsolete someday. It’s amazing, because anything you hear about is YEARS behind technologically. (Unless you are “in the know.”)
At this stage it is relatively useless. the mass that can be accelerated is small in comparison with say a missile. When fired the projectile can go all the way through an aircraft carrier, a 2 to 3 inch hole going in and a 2 to 3 inch hole going out meaning you have to be lucky to hit something vital otherwise you have done nothing affecting the fighting capability of the vessel.
When I was a kid, I used to play a game called “Robotech”. In this game (a boardgame, fancy that!), players controlled giantic robots called “mechs” that were piloted by humans. One of the armaments you could arm your mech with was a railgun, and if I remember correctly, it was pretty nasty.
It’s downright weird how science fiction can become reality.
Thanks for posting this. Not only was this very interesting, but it brought back a fun memory.
Nothing stays “at this stage” for that long, or we’d still be throwing rocks and wielding jawbones. That’s my point. Large aircraft carriers will not be the weapons of the future either. Now drone ships, maybe. We have the technology to have things stay in the sky almost indefinitely. Not only that, but satellites will one day play an even bigger role than they do now. “Progress” keeps moving forward.
Not exactly true. Saw a video a long time ago of the different projectile types they could design.
Once the gun goes from 1.5 to 6 or 7 megajoules, it will be quite literally like being hit by a smallish meteorite. Not the tiny type that puts a half inch hole in your roof...
Envision a hard shell over a slightly softer core like a tank sabot round, about the size of 2 liter bottle of soda... hitting your building at something under 7000 miles an hour (10,000 feet per second). It doesn’t just make a small entry and exit. It does the same thing that shooting a watermelon with a rifle does but on a vastly larger scale. It really IS at least as powerful as hitting the target with a Tomahawk.
So what would actually happen inside your theoretical aircraft carrier just after the first bulkhead or two would look a lot like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-tTAYFSnRW4
They already stated that it would be very good at destroying whatever is inside of hardened concrete bunkers.
They could even make fragmentary rounds that would explode and damage every aircraft on an airfield enough to keep them from flying.
Wonder if this would be a good space based weapon ? Could also be used to protect the planet from asteroids. Now would a satellite be propelled backwards after firing the projectile ? The platform would have to possess maneuverability, I guess.
I highly recommend “Breaking the Phalanx” by Doug Macregor (as I recall). Interesting read for the forward-thinking military type who is thinking beyond the last war.
i remember a sci-fi book about how humans used a particle that wasn’t very big, maybe a few square meters in size, it had quite literally a time stasis field surrounding, in effect absolutely nothing could hurt it, not even a journey through a sun.
This object was accelerated at nearly the speed of light and bombarded a planet, the results were highly spectacular.
1. The projectiles lose their velocity and kinetic energy rather quickly thanks to the same atmosphere that attenuates the meteoric junk that hits our planet. The faster it shoots, the more material the projectile loses to air friction heating.
2. Explosive fills, fuzes, electronics for guidance and safe and arm circuitry can't survive the heat, acceleration forces or EMPs generated by these launches - so all they shoot are smallish metal slugs which go "somewhere". Accuracy won't be at all useful beyond relatively short distances.
This is one of those technologies that really wows the bystanders and soaks up the RDT&E funds but doesn't yield very much for militarily useful effects.
Not useless at all.
EVERY frigate and destroyer and cruiser sized “warship” hit by even ONE weapon since WWII has lost either command, control, communication, or combat capacity for hours to days after that SINGLE hit. Sure, most have not sunk after that one hit. But none have been able to fight, flee, and maneuver.
Some of those hit - and over 50 have been hit by modern and improvised weapons - have lost propulsion. Some have been hit in the weapons magazine and lost defensive ability. Some have burned out. Some have had their hulls broke in half. Some have lost all radar capability. Some have had their bridges destroyed. Some their helicopter hangers. None, in any navy, have been able to keep fighting anything but damage control.
Now, a larger ship - you used an aircraft carrier in size asa an \example of a ship that can take damage - stays combat ready longer. But EVERY destroyer-cruiser sized surface ship - without exception - is put out of action after ONE hit.
Thanks Robert A. Cook, PE.
More importanly, this tilts the ballance from favoring jet aircraft...to favoring antiaircraft guns.
The kinetic dump alone will be sufficient to do tremendous damage to the ship. Tremendous damage. There is a real reason why close-range anti-missile defense systems have gone from gun-based CIWS like the Phalanx and GoalKeeper to missile based systems like the rolling airframe missile. Why? Because against supersonic anti-ship missiles (eg the old Sunburn, and the more modern Yakhont and supersonic Klub) even if the gun hits the missile directly the fragments will be moving so fast that the ship will, basically, get blasted by a gigantic supersonic shotgun. There are some tests (check YouTube) of the Indian-Russian BrahMos supersonic cruise missile,, whereby it hits a target dead Center. The missile doesn’t have a live warhead, but the devastation is interesting. At certain speeds a warhead is not necessary - the kinetic energy alone is more than sufficient. That projectile hitting the side of the ship at hypersonic speed will not make a small hole - the internal spall damage alone will be ridiculously damaging. It is like a larger and FAR faster version on the depleted uranium round the M1A2 Abrams fires at an enemy tank. A slender metal dart once it is out of it’s sabot, and when it hits it goes in and the spall makes whatever unfortunate soul was inside that T-72 experience a truly unique death. The rail gun would be like a giant Abrams firing a shot at hypersonic speed. Whatever gets hit will not have a small hole - it will be finished (whether it is fires or, at the very least, a mission kill). It is the same way a slender uranium dart from the Abrams main gun hits a T-72 and turns it’s insides into slapped hot metal and sheared hot flesh - just far far far faster and a whole lot more kinetic energy dump.
When the Navy finishes development and fields a rail gun system, my bet is they’re still not going to want to use it for naval gunfire support of Marines ashore.
That’s gotta sting a little.
Above a certain speed there is no kinetic dump. So that is a limiting factor.
See also Chainmails post #15
Add to above, the Navy has discontinued funding further research by the foremost expert the Navy has and he is the worlds foremost expert.
See my post above to Spetznaz
Your tag line is in a strange way illuminating
I’ve had a lot of comments on it over the years. Came up with it when the Dems started to politicize the GWOT campaign in Iraq. It’s still appropriate in my view.
The Navy tried to sell it as an NGFS system but without any hope for terminal guidance or an explosive warhead at least in the forseeable future, no way Jose..
The Navy loves stuff that makes them look forward-looking and technologically advanced but they always come up short when it comes to actually providing amphibious lift or fire support for Marines. Even when they try, there's always this disconnect between Powerpoint and reality - such as the Extended Range Guided Munition (ERGM). "Wait 9 minutes until the round arrives and then get little-bitty bomblets"
Chainmail 2/11 S-3 1986-87
I did not do well in physics, but wouldn’t it act like a bullets and come apart upon contact? Or is the process of launching the thing too powerful to have a projectile like that?
I did some reading the process after seeing something the other day. Amazing technology. DuPont will not be happy to find that powder is going to go the way of the buggy whip.
My physics is not up to the task either. My son however is studying for his masters at NPS in Monterey and described it to me. not that I could follow that well but as a neat experiment great, as a useful weapon, not so good. The worlds foremost expert is a professor at NPS and is some what depressed at no more funding.
We sure do. I can remember my grandfather marveling at all the advancements he'd seen in his own life. He was born in rural Mississippi in 1906, where automobiles were so rare, that half the town came out when one passed through, and no one had electricity in their homes.
By the time he was 80 or so, he'd seen the invention of television, manned flight, space flight, computers, and every other technology we take for granted today.
Artists dream the future that engineers then create. Interesting how that works.
You'd have to have one helluva recoil damping system to keep the platform from rocketing in the opposite direction.
I love sci-fi. The object you described would literally turn a planet into an asteroid belt.
I fear you may be right. We've got some major malfunctions in the ranks at the top.
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