NASHUA, N.H., 6 Nov. 2012. In this week's Military & Aerospace Electronics Report, Skyler Frink discusses railgun technology as the second prototype is delivered to the office of naval research.
This is the Military & Aerospace Electronics Report, I'm Skyler Frink
The Office of Naval Research has begun evaluating the second of two Railgun prototypes. This second launcher was designed by General Atomics, while the first, which began testing in February, was designed by BAE systems.
Railguns fire a projectile by using electricity instead of normal weapon propellants such as explosive chemicals. A railgun uses a pair of parallel conducting rails and a sliding armature that is accelerated by the electromagnetic effects of the current when it flows down one rail, into the armature, and then back along the other rail. Railguns have already been tested, with a world record 33-megajoule shot having been done in December 2010.
While these weapons are not yet combat ready, work has already begun on next-generation prototypes that will be capable of increased firing rates.
Electromagnetic Railgun program was started in 2005 with a goal of creating a weapon that can launch a projectile 100 nautical miles. Phase One saw the creation of launcher technology with adequare service life, reliable pulsed power technology and component risk reduction for the projectile. Phase Two of the program began in 2012, and is concentrating on acheiving a 10 rounds per-minute firing rate, which will involve thermal management techniques for both the launcher and the pulsed power system.
The railgun stands to change naval warfare and even costal bombardment. With such massive range and devastating power, one megajoule is equivalent to a one-ton vehicle moving at 100 miles per hour, railguns are devastating weapons that also save money by not relying on chemical propellants. The program has made enormous strides in technology, and with the second prototype delivered it's only a matter of time before we see ships outfitted with railgun technology.
For the Military & Aerospace Electronics Report, I'm Skyler Frink