Skip to comments.Navy Fires Up Fully-Weaponized (BAE Electromagnetic)Railgun Prototype
Posted on 02/28/2012 8:40:36 PM PST by DogByte6RER
Navy fires up fully-weaponized railgun prototype
At the end of last month, the Navy got an early Valentine's Day present in the form of a prototype fully-weaponized naval railgun. And on Tuesday, it released a video of its first shot, which we're officially filing under "things not to get in the way of."
This prototype weapon, developed by BAE Systems, fires inert aluminum slugs out of a 40-foot barrel using nothing but megajoules of raw electricity. The giant gout of flame you see in the picture (below) comes from a combination of about a million amps of energy, the hypersonic speed of the round, and the aluminum in the bullet reacting with the atmosphere.
The ultimate goal here is to fire 10 rounds per minute with 32 megajoules of energy each, sending them between 50 and 100 miles downrange with flawless GPS-guided accuracy, at a speed that's so high that when the rounds hit their target, they'll be carrying the equivalent amount of destructive force as a Volkswagen Beetle traveling at 100 mph.
32 times over.
In the video of the test (YouTube link posted below), you'll notice that the payload (the "bullet") is decidedly not streamlined. We know that Boeing has been developing some mean-looking streamlined railgun rounds, but apparently the Navy doesn't want to use them in these tests for fear of accidentally losing control of one and hitting the White House or something, instead opting for brick-like rounds that don't go nearly as far.
In April, General Atomics will deliver a prototype of their railgun design, "Blitzer," to the Navy so that it'll have two of these monsters to play around with. And by 2017, which is another way of saying a quarter of a billion dollars from now, the Navy might actually be ready to start thinking about deployment.
BAE Electromagnetic Railgun
>>equivalent amount of destructive force as a Volkswagen Beetle traveling at 100 mph.<<
Which would be the first VW Bug to actually hit that speed.
(You owe me a keyboard)
That there’s funny.
I assume the mean for the driver of the Beetle.
Me like! Me like!!
Terrestrial “Rods from God”...or should I say Marine?
>>equivalent amount of destructive force as a Volkswagen Beetle traveling at 100 mph.<<
I wouldn’t want to stand in front of one, but it doesn’t seem like that would do much damage to a hardened target.
Nonsense. I had one years ago that would do 100MPH no problem.
Good luck with that! No guidance system known to man can handle that acceleration and keep on functioning. Plenty of systems with far lower velocity/acceleration have proven impossible to function after being subjected to high g-forces.
The story said 32 TIMES the force of a beetle doing 100.
beetle traveling at 100 mph 32 times over
I wonder why the odd shape? Did anyone see any info about exactly how fast this thing really is moving? Is it more than 5000 ft/sec?
Railgun slugs are by definition simple chunks of metal. Even if the electronics could handle the acceleration, they’d be fried by the magnetic field. I think what they’re talking about is how the gun is aimed.
HA! My series 3 photon raygun makes that look like a puss.Isn’t that right Commander Spock?
I wonder how long before they start doing rapid fire? I’d like to see them rip off a couple hundred in under a minute.
Turbo drag bugs are pretty quick, very embarrassing to Mustangs and Cameros.
Except take that force and concentrate the impact into an area the size of the round. To put the 32 megajoules in comparison, a .45 only has about 600 joules of kinetic energy. That amount of concentrated energy is staggering.... and that is before the consideration of a rapid succession of these projectiles hitting the same point.
>> “Which would be the first VW Bug to actually hit that speed.” <<
Back in the ‘70s I used to do about 120 MPH in one on the sand between Guadalupe and Oceano for the midnight cruise. (engine was somewhat modified)
I would bet the guided accuracy would be based on initial firing, not on continual in flight adjustment like on a missile system. In other words, they would use GPS calculations of the target to feed into the targeting computer. If they could find a way to have continual in-flight adjustments, DARPA has some s*** way beyond anything I could imagine. Calling it GPS-Guided is probably some reporter’s interpretation by not understanding what some technical description meant.
There’s no way you’d be able to manage the heat from that rate of fire.
no kidding. They should call this think the “Atom Gun” because after the real rounds hit something, I think that’s about the biggest piece that will be left.
A nice option til the photon torpedo is available.
It's perfectly technically feasible to have a GPS guided round, and potentially an active seeker for attacking moving targets - was some work during the SDI days on this.
There have been a lot of advancements in solid-state electronics that can survive high-G and magnetic environments.
Never say never. These things will be mounted on ships right? Ships sit on top of a pretty big heat sink if I’m not mistaken.
The gun and all related power systems need to be EMP hardened.
They already make guided rounds for very large guns...as in the gun on an A10 warthog. The nose of the bullet has a ball on it that will swivel to act like a nose mounted rudder. It swivels fast to keep up with the spin of the bullet.
No, the intention is to actually guide the round in flight.
See this Boeing patent on the projectile:
Some old work on a BMD railgun projectile from SDI:
A-10 Warthogs are beautiful.
Well it’s a trade-off; if the rounds are much smaller and your dumpinng in less power, you can get a higher rate of fire.
But themal management is a huge problem; you won’t be pumping out 32MJ shots to 100 nm at hundreds of rounds a minute, even on a ship.
Key thing is the barrel erosion problems preventing any refiring at all seem to have largely been solved.
We also have the slight problem that we really don’t have a ship to put it on; the DDG 51 Flt III design is horribly cramped and basically filled just by putting the new AMDR radar on; you can get a small railgun on if you delete the 5” and lose a bunch of VLS cells.
Umm, 32 times over. In an area of 25 square inches or so.
Why does it need a special ship? stick it on a barge for now.
I think that if you look at the history of the 5-inch gun, you will find many references to ill-functioning GPS systems.
Eh, a lot of that plasma in that is actually a sign that in that old test the railgun wasn’t quite perfected yet; it comes from rail erosion, arc transition between the barrel and armature, and severe arcing at the muzzle, all of which damge the gun.
Not exactly your average pocket pistol;)
I’m fully aware of the long development saga of the Army Copperhead and Excalibur rounds, and the failure of the Navy’s ERGM and BTERM.
Sometimes things do get figured out eventually. The USN had a UAV ASW helicopter program in the 1960s called DASH - it was a complete falure, 50% crashed within a year or two, and they were replaced with manned helicopters.
Doesn’t mean the Navy shouldn’t be giving it another try today with improved enabling technology.
On the other hand, stuff like the Airborne Laser didn’t work, and there is zero evidence that anything like it will ever work.
” .. for fear of accidentally losing control of one and hitting the White House”
Naval Research Lab?
I think the moon is the only place where solar panels can be effectively used without wasting space and energy.
Install these there and you go yourself a nice launching pad for outer space probes.
If we didn't invent, make, use, and sell new and better ways to kill people then the entire USA economy would collapse.
I guess that explains why Obama is cutting military R&D.
Seems like rather than keeping things secret, now we have to let the world know our latest tech developments and plans.
The kinetic energy is Mass * Velocity * Velocity / 2.
Mp * Vp * Vp/2 = 32 * Mvw * Vvw * Vvw/2.
solving for Vp yields
Vp=100 Mph * sqrt(32* 2000/20) ~= 5657 mph ~= 8300 feet/second.
No wonder it smokes.
(Yes I know pounds is not a mass unit, but since only the ratio counts it doesn't matter what units are used, as long as they are the same for both masses)
The 1300’s built to 1776’s were pretty damn fast.
I’ll wait for the laser version, thank you.
Just think about what they could do with one of these guns two miles long, that fired subatomic particles - in space.
Seems like some missed this:
“.. at a speed that’s so high that when the rounds hit their target, they’ll be carrying the equivalent amount of destructive force as a Volkswagen Beetle traveling at 100 mph.”
As in—”32 times over.”
The article doesn’t give a price for the gun but it sounds like the ammo would be pretty cheap (aluminum blanks).