BAE Systems was awarded a $34.5 million contract from the Office of Naval Research (ONR) for the development of the Electromagnetic (EM) Railgun under Phase 2 of the Navy’s Innovative Naval Prototype (INP) program.
The focus of Phase 2 is to advance the Railgun technology by maturing the launcher and pulsed power from a single shot operation to a multi-shot capability, and incorporating auto-loading and thermal management systems.
“We’re committed to developing this innovative and game changing technology that will revolutionize naval warfare,” said Chris Hughes, vice president and general manager of Weapon Systems at BAE Systems. “The Railgun’s ability to defend against enemy threats from distances greater than ever before improves the capabilities of our armed forces.” Read the full press release here.
Meet the U.S. Navy’s First Rail Gun Prototype
A test shot fires from the Office of Naval Research-funded Electromagnetic Railgun prototype launcher located at the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division. The test shots begin a month-long series of full-energy tests to evaluate the technology. This prototype, developed by BAE, is the first of two industry-built launchers that will bring the Department of the Navy a step closer to producing a new-generation, long-range, weapon for surface ships.
Source: BAE Systems
The Electromagnetic Railgun Innovative Naval Prototype (INP) was initiated in 2005. The Phase I goal of 32 mega-joule muzzle energy proof-of-concept demonstration has been achieved. A future weapon system at this energy level would be capable of launching a 100-nautical mile projectile. This launch energy has the advantage of being able to stress many components to evaluate full-scale mechanical and electromagnetic forces.
Phase I was focused on the development of launcher technology with adequate service life, development of reliable pulsed power technology and component risk reduction for the projectile.
Phase II, which started in 2012, will advance the technology for transition to an acquisition program. Phase II technology efforts will concentrate on demonstrating a 10-rounds-per-minute firing rate. Thermal management techniques required for sustained firing rates will be developed for both the launcher system and the pulsed power system. The railgun is a true warfighter game-changer. Wide-area coverage, exceptionally quick response and very deep magazines will extend the reach and lethality of ships armed with this technology.
What it is
The Electromagnetic (EM) Railgun is a long-range weapon that fires projectiles using electricity instead of chemical propellants. Magnetic fields created by high electrical currents accelerate a sliding metal conductor, or armature, between two rails to launch projectiles at 4,500 mph to 5,600 mph.
How it works
Electricity generated by the ship is stored over several seconds in the pulsed power system. Next, an electric pulse is sent to the railgun, creating an electromagnetic force accelerating the projectile at speeds of up to Mach 7. The kinetic energy warhead eliminates the hazards of high explosives in the ship and unexploded ordnance on the battlefield.
What it will achieve
With its increased velocity and extended range, the EM Railgun will give Sailors a multimission capability, allowing them to conduct precise naval surface fire support,or land strikes; cruise missile and ballistic missile defense; and surface warfare to deter enemy vessels. Navy planners are targeting a 50- to 100-nautical mile initial capability. A variety of new and existing naval platforms—including the DDG51—are being studied for integration of a future tactical railgun system.
Source: Office of Naval Research
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