An Army Howitzer is now firing a super high-speed, high-tech, electromagnetic Hyper Velocity Projectile...
Pentagon is accelerating developmental testing of its high-tech, long-range Electro-Magnetic Rail Gun by expanding the platforms from which it might fire...
At the recent Naval Future Force Science and Technology Expo, the Office of Naval Research (ONR) announced that the Navy's electromagnetic railgun is out of the laboratory and ready for field demonstrations at the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division's new railgun Rep-Rate Test Site at Terminal Range.
Initial rep-rate fires (repetition rate of fires) of multi-shot salvos already have been successfully conducted at low muzzle energy. The next test sequence calls for safely increasing launch energy, firing rates and salvo size. Railgun rep-rate testing will be at 20 megajoules by the end of the summer and at 32 megajoules by next year.
The railgun shoots the high-velocity projectile (HVP), a next-generation, low-drag, guided projectile that can be used in different gun systems. With its increased velocity, precision guidance and extended range, the railgun realizes the full range of the HVP's scalable lethality. Together, both technologies will enable naval forces to address threats in the mission areas of surface fire support, anti-air and anti-surface warfare.
The Navy currently is developing and testing railgun barrels capable of firing many rounds per minute with a tactically relevant barrel life-as well as the associated power and auxiliary systems needed to make that possible. In addition, the weapon's power system now is small enough to fit aboard current and future U.S. Navy ships. These products, when matured, will create much more capable warships.
'According to interviews with several congressional and military sources, the much-hyped supergun has come under scrutiny from lawmakers and military planners,' the site says.
It says the Navy's Strategic Capabilities Office is instead likely to focus on the hypervelocity projectile (HVP), which was originally designed specialized ammo for the railgun, but can be adapted to be fired from other weapons.
Navy bosses now believe they can adapt the projectiles to be fired through normal guns - albeit at a slower Mach 3 speed.
Previous projects have shown the US Navy's radical plan to create a railgun capable of firing bullets at hypersonic speed could also revolutionise power storage technology, researchers have revealed.
The Office of Naval Research is developing its own 'supercapacitors' to store the huge amounts of power needed to propel the projectiles onboard ships.
Early trials used commercially available systems.
However, they were 'not suitable for integration aboard a ship' and were too big to fit the latest Zumwalt-class destroyers, Thomas Beutner, head of ONR's Naval Air Warfare and Weapons Department, said during a July event in Washington, according to Defense One.
To get around the issue, ONR researchers developed their own capacitors, which are far smaller, but can supply 20 megajoules per shot, with a goal of 32 megajoules by next year.
These new capacitors 'represent a new generation of pulse power, with an energy density of over a megajoule per cubic meter,' said Beutner.
The US Navy has been working on the gun with BAE Systems since 2005.
During phase I developers focused on developing pulsed power technology.
During phase II, which started in 2012, will further develop the pulsed power system and the launcher system.
Last year, a similar device called the Blitzer railgun also released a missile at Mach 6 speeds.
Relying on the same technology, this railgun was designed by San Diego-based General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems (GA-EMS).
GA-EMS has worked steadily to develop the technology, as has its rival British firm BAE Systems, and the advanced military technology has undergone testing with the US Navy since 2012.
French-German EM Railgun Project Unveiled at DGA Innovation Event
A French-German electromagnetic (EM) railgun project was unveiled during the 2017 "DGA Innovations" event hosted by the French defense procurement agency (DGA). Launched by the ISL (French-German Research Institute of Saint-Louis) in 1987, the project was mostly kept under cover until now.
Electromagnetic (EM) Railgun scale model showcased by ISL during the DGA Innovations 2017 event.
A full scale EM railgun prototype dubbed "Pegasus" was built in 1997 at ISL facility in Eastern France, close to the German border. At the 2017 DGA innovation event, ISL was showcasing for the first time a fully function, truck-mounted EM railgun and was even demonstrating the firing of 5x5mm projectiles, live during the show. The tiny projectiles have muzzle velocity of 120 meters per seconds.
The 10 MJ PEGASUS is being used to advance the launcher and armature technology towards a reliable half-scale long range artillery system. Recent results include the successful launch of in-house developed launch packages (mass range is kg) for hypervelocity (> 2500 m/s) projectile acceleration. The ISL launch technology sets worldwide accepted standards with regard to the efficiency of the conversion of electric energy into kinetic energy (> 35%). ISL’s railgun facilities are unique in Europe.
The military applications for this technology are many:
- Long range artillery (in excess of 200 Km)
- Anti-surface (naval)
- Increased penetration thanks to high impact speed
- Anti air and anti missile defense (including against hypersonic threats)
- Simultaneous impacts thanks via rate of fire and velocity control
- No powder (no prytechnic risks)
The fully functioning scale model canon can launch 5x5 mm projectiles at a speed of 120 meters per second.
This new technology brings the capability to fire high speed projectiles (Mach 9 speed / 3 Km per second) while increasing the range five-fold with a better impact efficiency. Ultimately, the technology should be able to replace cruise missiles at a fraction of the cost.
ISL is working on ultra compact power supplies capable to deliver 1 GW in form factor 10 times smaller. To achieve this, ISL is working with a number of new technologies such as magnetic power supplies, ultra rapid switches and supraconductors: Below -200°C, some materials have no resistance to power. They may conduct electricty without any loss.
Industry partners in the project include: Naval Group, ISL, Nexter Systems, Nexter Munitions and MBDA. A Naval Group concept ship (scale model) fitted with EM Railguns is set to be unveiled at Euronaval 2018. DGA and ISL believe that the first pratical application for the technology would indeed be in the naval field.