Not Even Mountains Can Stop The Navy's New Electromagnetic Railgun
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You have to consider the following: At some point the Navy has to test a full-fledged railgun. The trick is to find a suitable range in which the weapon can be fired with maximum range and speed. However, if the test program is moved from Dahlgren, Virginia to the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, it will not be able to perform the demo at sea on a fast transport.
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While the U.S. Navy announced last year that it would launch a prototype Railgun at sea on the USNS Trenton (JHSV-5) expedition fast transporter in 2016, the service may need to implement these plans.
If the Navy brings the Railgun to sea with a fast transport, it will be in 2017 at the earliest. Instead of testing the prototype of the rail cannon in an environment at sea, the Navy could instead proceed directly to developing a functioning weapon system.
"It's not definitely out, but it's definitely not going forward," counter-administrator Peter Fanta, the Navy's surface warfare director, told Defense News during an interview on December 30.
“Primarily because it slows down the technical work that I have to do to achieve the power transmission that I need to get multiple repeatable shots that I can now install on a ship. And I would honestly prefer to have an operational unit that is faster than the nine months to a year it takes to set up the demo and install the systems. Take the one operational unit I have and put it on a ship. Take it to sea, do a dozen shots, turn around, take it off and reinstall it on a test bench. "
Fanta said he believes an operational railgun will be feasible within the next five years. Indeed, the Navy hopes to replace one of the 155mm turrets on board the third and final Zumwalt-class destroyer, Lyndon B. Johnson (DDG 1002), with a rail cannon. "I still don't know if I can get there from the technical status, but that's what we're continuing to focus on," Fanta told Defense News.
According to Fanta, most of the key technologies behind Railguns - which were previously mainly in the area of science fiction - have been unlocked. "At this point, it's technology, it's not science anymore," Fanta told Defense News. "It's no longer the deep dark secrets of what I can do with this type of energy. It's the technology and how much power density I can get, how much beam quality I can get, what kind of metallurgy I need to take multiple shots sustained over multiple periods of time, both the rail gun and the laser. ”
Solving the metallurgy problem may require novel solutions - and there may not be a solution. “My old cannon barrels took me a few thousand rounds. Do we still want to go? Other countries solve it the other way around, ”Fanta told Defense News.
"Maybe if I carry four barrels and easily exchange them with a bunch of Bosun buddies on the [bow] and put [them] in half a turn and let's go. That's how we do it when we overheat machine guns. The new machine guns, you have the old barrel, you are stuck in a new one and you keep shooting. Maybe that's the way to go if we can't solve the metallurgical problems that allow me to do 1,000 laps from one barrel. "
After all, the navy has to test a full railgun. The trick is to find a suitable range in which the weapon can be fired with maximum range and speed. However, if the test program is moved from Dahlgren, Virginia to the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, it will not be able to perform the demo at sea on a fast transport.
"I need to be able to see this thing shoot - with both the projectile and the weapon - at full range, which means that I need both height and height and long range to get anywhere from a mountain Blow it up and don't worry about someone fishing somewhere, ”Fanta told Defense News. "The discussion is now to move it to a better website where I can run full-range tests, or am I going to do the demo? Since it is an either-or, it is not yet both at this point. "
This first appeared in 2016.
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