Navy Railgun Tests Leading to Ship Superweapon by 2020





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    Navy Railgun Tests Leading to Ship Superweapon by 2020

    New Navy Railgun Tests Leading to Ship Superweapon by 2020 (with video)

    The first weapon-scale prototype of a futuristic Navy railgun began undergoing firing tests last week, the next big step toward putting the electromagnetic superweapon on U.S. warships by 2020. The Navy envisions using railguns to destroy enemy ships, defend against enemy missiles, or bombard land targets in support of Marines hitting the beaches.

    Newly released video shows the prototype railgun using an electric-powered launcher rather than gunpowder to fire a huge hypersonic bullet in a cloud of flame and smoke. The Office of Naval Research hopes its new test phase scheduled to last until 2017 leads to a Navy weapon capable of hurling 40-pound projectiles at speeds of 4,500 mph to 5,600 mph over 50 to 100 miles (7,240 to 9,010 kilometers per hour over 80 to 161 kilometers).

    New Navy Railgun Tests Leading to Ship Superweapon by 2020 - Yahoo! News

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    Quote Originally Posted by El Mahdi View Post
    [SIZE=3][B] using an electric-powered launcher rather than gunpowder to fire a huge hypersonic bullet in a cloud of flame and smoke.
    How can there be a cloud of flame and smoke when the delivery mechanism is a series of electromagnets sliding a block of metal out of a tube?

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    I'm not sure either. Maybe we have some experts here at ENWorld who could answer that... Maybe @Umbran


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    I expect one, possible two effects there.

    1) A railgun operates by passing a large current from one rail, through the projectile, and into the other rail. So, you have two sliding contacts with a whole lot of current, in open air. As the current jumps across a contact, it is probably ionizing the air (and maybe some of the metal of the contact points as well) - so, it is like having two tiny lightning bolts in the barrel, creating plasma.

    2) Less likely: In addition, you have a projectile in a confined space, accelerating from zero to Mach 5+ in nothing flat. I wouldn't be surprised if there were some friction heating in there.

    (And, some fast reading up, and it seems my plasma-guess is the correct one)

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    That new video footage looks very much like the old one from 2008:

    OhGizmo! Archive Navy Test Fires 10 Megajoule Railgun (Holy Cow)

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    Yay for blowin' stuff up REAL good!

    (Or is that "RAIL good"?)
    Last edited by Dannyalcatraz; Wednesday, 29th February, 2012 at 10:11 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by jonesy View Post
    That new video footage looks very much like the old one from 2008:
    Well, it would. It is the same base technology, after all.

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    While this looks all well and good, I have a couple problems, namely is the acceleration capable of penetrating armor plated steel ship hulls? If so, then this becomes a great weapon in close support of ships as the magazine can be removed an secondary explosions caused by direct hits could be a thing of the past.

    If I'm reading the technology right, basically this is a very high powered catapult, meaning it's fire and forget, straight line trajectory so anti-aircraft and missile defense uses are neigh unto impossible as there would be no way to "direct" the round or have it home like radar, sonor, laser, video and fly by wire munitions.

    As a ship to shore weapon, this thing would be devastating against soft (people) and semi soft (light vehicles, minimal armor and light wooden buildings) targets, but my concern is loss of velocity over extended distance. (Obviously they aren't going to release that data until they field it. ) Conventional weapons have given way to ship to shore missiles, so unless they could ensure minimal collateral damage, I don't see this being implemented, by 2020 or any other time.

    Naval bombardment in support of a landing hasn't been a Navy tactic for many years, in part because we don't do conventional landings anymore. (though there are three tactical landing craft undergoing sea trials.) but their primary function is helicopter operations for troops and then logistical landings to disgorge vehicles, and materiel.

    The military has had to contend with collateral damage reports over the last 40 years, in WWII carpet bombing and strategic bombing while effective also destroyed buildings and killed non-combatants. Something that if happened in a modern assault would be met with a media firestorm. Which isn't a bad thing, it's really cool when you can fire a missile from 25 miles away, fly in through a window and land on a bad guy's desk taking out the building which is oddly located next door to a school, a religious center and an emergency response center all of which didn't feel anything other than a slight tremor and a loud boom.
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    Maybe they could try and build something similar to the A-10, built around a later smaller more advanced version of this. That would make a terrifying anti-armor plane.

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    Part of what makes rail guns fun is that the higher the velocity you can achieve:

    1) the less massive a round you need to do X amount of damage

    2) the less you need to lead a target, meaning accuracy increases
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