Saft to provide energy storage and power electronics support for Navy electromagnetic railgun

U.S. Navy researchers needed energy storage technologies to help develop a long-range shipboard weapon that fires projectiles using electrical power instead of chemical propellants. They found their solution at battery designer Saft America Inc. in Cockeysville, Md.

1605mae Pa Electromagneticrailgun

U.S. Navy researchers needed energy storage technologies to help develop a long-range shipboard weapon that fires projectiles using electrical power instead of chemical propellants. They found their solution at battery designer Saft America Inc. in Cockeysville, Md.

Officials of the Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) in Dahlgren, Va., have announced plans to award a sole-source contract to Saft to help Navy researchers develop non-propagating energy storage modules for the future electromagnetic railgun. The Navy's electromagnetic railgun project seeks to use magnetic fields created by high electrical currents to accelerate a sliding metal conductor between two rails to launch projectiles at 4,500 miles per hour - or nearly six times the speed of sound. Such a shipboard weapon would use kinetic energy, rather than explosives, to destroy or disable targets at sea, such as surface warships, fast attack boats, helicopters, and fixed-wing aircraft.

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The Navy's future electromagnetic railgun will use electricity generated by its host ship and stored over several seconds in a pulsed power system. The weapon sends an electric pulse to the railgun to create an electromagnetic force accelerating a projectile that looks like a gigantic blunt-end open wrench to speeds as fast as Mach 6. The wrench-like projectile moves so quickly that it trails a plume of fire from its kinetic energy.

The weapon would eliminate the hazards of high explosives in the ship and unexploded ordnance on the battlefield, Navy officials say. NSWC-Dahlgren performs research in complex naval warfare systems, such as the electromagnetic railgun and the shipboard Laser Weapon System (LaWS).

The Navy's near-term goal is a 20- to 32-megajoule weapon that shoots a distance of 50 to 100 nautical miles. Navy officials want a rate of fire for the electromagnetic railgun of at least 10 rounds per minute. The pulsed power system will provide the electrical power necessary for this rate of fire.

FOR MORE INFORMATION visit Saft America online at www.saftbatteries.com.

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