Navy Tests Electromagnetic Railgun

Navy Tests Electromagnetic Railgun

Postby Foxfyre » Fri Dec 10, 2010 7:01 pm

FOX NEWS
A theoretical dream for decades, the railgun is unlike any other weapon used in warfare. And it's quite real too, as the U.S. Navy has proven in a record-setting test today in Dahlgren, VA.

Rather than relying on a explosion to fire a projectile, the technology 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.

The result: a weapon that can hit a target 100 miles or more away within minutes.

"It's an over-used term, but it really changes several games," Rear Admiral Nevin P. Carr, Jr., the chief of Naval Research, told FoxNews.com prior to the test.

For a generation raised on shoot-'em-up video games, the word "railgun" invokes sci-fi images of an impossibly destructive weapon annihilating monsters and aliens. But the railgun is nonetheless very real.

Weapon shoots without explosive charge
An electromagnetic railgun offers a velocity previously unattainable in a conventional weapon, speeds that are incredibly powerful on their own. In fact, since the projectile doesn't have any explosives itself, it relies upon that kinetic energy to do damage. And at 11 a.m. today, the Navy produced a 33-megajoule firing -- more than three times the previous record set by the Navy in 2008.

"It bursts radially, but it's hard to quantify," said Roger Ellis, electromagnetic railgun program manager with the Office of Naval Research. To convey a sense of just how much damage, Ellis told FoxNews.com that the big guns on the deck of a warship are measured by their muzzle energy in megajoules. A single megajoule is roughly equivalent to a 1-ton car traveling at 100 mph. Multiple that by 33 and you get a picture of what would happen when such a weapon hits a target.

Ellis says the Navy has invested about $211 million in the program since 2005, since the railgun provides many significant advantages over convention weapons. For one thing, a railgun offers 2 to 3 times the velocity of a conventional big gun, so that it can hit its target within 6 minutes. By contrast, a guided cruise missile travels at subsonic speeds, meaning that the intended target could be gone by the time it reaches its destination.

Furthermore, current U.S. Navy guns can only reach targets about 13 miles away. The railgun being tested today could reach an enemy 100 miles away. And with current GPS guidance systems it could do so with pinpoint accuracy. The Navy hopes to eventually extend the range beyond 200 miles.

"We're also eliminating explosives from the ship, which brings significant safety benefits and logistical benefits," Ellis said. In other words, there is less danger of an unintended explosion onboard, particularly should such a vessel come under attack.

Indeed, a railgun could be used to inflict just such harm on another vessel.

Admiral Carr, who calls the railgun a "disruptive technology," said that not only would a railgun-equipped ship have to carry few if any large explosive warheads, but it could use its enemies own warheads against them. He envisions being able to aim a railgun directly at a magazine on an enemy ship and "let his explosives be your explosives."

There's also a cost and logistical benefit associated with railguns. For example, a single Tomahawk cruise missile costs roughly $600,000. A non-explosive guided railgun projectile could cost much less. And a ship could carry many more, reducing the logistical problems of delivering more weapons to a ship in battle. For these reasons, Admiral Carr sees the railgun as even changing the strategic and tactical assumptions of warfare in the future.

The Navy still has a distance to go, however, before the railgun test becomes a working onboard weapon. Technically, Ellis says they've already overcome several hurdles. The guns themselves generate a terrific amount of heat -- enough to melt the rails inside the barrel -- and power -- enough to force the rails apart, destroying the gun and the barrel in the process.

The projectile is no cannon ball, either. At speeds well above the sound barrier, aerodynamics and special materials must be considered so that it isn't destroyed coming out of the barrel or by heat as it travels at such terrific speeds.

Then there's question of electrical requirements. Up until recently, those requirements simply weren't practical. However, the naval researchers believe they can solve that issue using newer Navy ships and capacitors to build up the charge necessary to blast a railgun projectile out at supersonic speeds. Ellis says they hope to be able to shoot 6 to 12 rounds per minute, "but we're not there yet."

So when will the railgun become a working weapon? Both Ellis and Carr expect fully functional railguns on the decks of U.S. Navy ships in the 2025 time frame.



First Anitmatter now an almost working Rail Gun, whats next? :mrgreen:
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Re: Navy Tests Electromagnetic Railgun

Postby Mikey » Fri Dec 10, 2010 7:23 pm

What's next? Coil guns, obviously - similar destructive potential, no need to carry a warship around with you.
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Re: Navy Tests Electromagnetic Railgun

Postby SolkaTruesilver » Fri Dec 10, 2010 7:24 pm

Mikey wrote:What's next? Coil guns, obviously - similar destructive potential, no need to carry a warship around with you.


What if I WANT to carry a warship around with me, for defense purposes? :poke:
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Re: Navy Tests Electromagnetic Railgun

Postby Mikey » Fri Dec 10, 2010 7:51 pm

I'd recommend wearing a back brace.
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Re: Navy Tests Electromagnetic Railgun

Postby SolkaTruesilver » Fri Dec 10, 2010 8:03 pm

Mikey wrote:I'd recommend wearing a back brace.


Please notice the "power armor" thread I opened :takecover:
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Re: Navy Tests Electromagnetic Railgun

Postby Lighthawk » Fri Dec 10, 2010 9:19 pm

A single megajoule is roughly equivalent to a 1-ton car traveling at 100 mph. Multiple that by 33 and you get a picture of what would happen when such a weapon hits a target.


That would be a mess.

Awesome stuff.
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Re: Navy Tests Electromagnetic Railgun

Postby Teaos » Sat Dec 11, 2010 1:31 pm

If only the USA still had enemies who were kind enough to build big warships and fortresses rather than hide in civilian areas.
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Re: Navy Tests Electromagnetic Railgun

Postby stitch626 » Sat Dec 11, 2010 3:18 pm

Seriously. If the only enemy faced will be insurgencies, a railgun will be useless.
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Re: Navy Tests Electromagnetic Railgun

Postby Lighthawk » Sat Dec 11, 2010 8:51 pm

The Somali pirates are still a problem aren't they? :twisted: Sure it's a bit of overkill for a speedboat, but on the plus side you would only have to land the hit in the general area.
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Re: Navy Tests Electromagnetic Railgun

Postby Reliant121 » Sat Dec 11, 2010 10:11 pm

Perfect low risk test as well...
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Re: Navy Tests Electromagnetic Railgun

Postby Sonic Glitch » Sun Dec 12, 2010 3:26 am

Hey, just because our current enemies hide in civilian areas doesn't mean they all always will.
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Re: Navy Tests Electromagnetic Railgun

Postby Teaos » Sun Dec 12, 2010 11:29 am

There is no enemy in the forseeable future who this weapon will be effective against.
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Re: Navy Tests Electromagnetic Railgun

Postby Mikey » Sun Dec 12, 2010 2:04 pm

This weapon will be effective against everyone. Has nobody here ever heard of deterrence?

In addition... GPS-guided non-explosive yet destructive payloads would be more effective against insurgents and other targets hidden among civilians, not less.
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Re: Navy Tests Electromagnetic Railgun

Postby Tyyr » Mon Dec 13, 2010 1:30 pm

Sonic Glitch wrote:Hey, just because our current enemies hide in civilian areas doesn't mean they all always will.

Winner.
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Re: Navy Tests Electromagnetic Railgun

Postby SolkaTruesilver » Mon Dec 13, 2010 1:52 pm

Sonic Glitch wrote:Hey, just because our current enemies hide in civilian areas doesn't mean they all always will.


If you keep up coming with that kind of weaponry, I don't see why anyonre would think they'd stand a chance against you in a fair fight.

the more you develop these Superweapon, the more you make them useless. Quite the paradox, actually.

Except that it isn't, obviously. The paradox is resolved the moment you remember the B$ spent to develop these babies, which makes the Friends of the Pentagon quite rich people, so they can lobby the right politicians to make sure the people in the pentagon keep spending billions into more weaponry. It's the opposite of the vicious circle! :poke:



Also, people, what do you think would be the effectiveness of such railgun if positionned on a Satellite, to do Sat Vs Sat warfare? Could you project a railgun projectile into Extreme Fast Orbit to strike down a satellite on the other side of the globe? (or it's a shot even Luke coudn't suceed?)
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