US Navy orders new electric hyper-kill railgun
They will not let me off*
Globe-straddling weapons megacorp BAE Systems is pleased to announce that it has inked a deal with the US Navy to build a new electromagnetic hypercannon.
"This EM Railgun contract is a continuation of BAE Systems’ dedication to delivering advanced technology for tomorrow's Sailors,” said Jim Schoppenhorst, BAE veep in charge of selling stuff to the (US) navy.
The $21m deal will see BAE's recently acquired American operations build a new and more powerful prototype railgun for the Office of Naval Research (ONR). The US naval boffinry operation has already demo'd a record-breaking 10 megajoule magnocannon (see the vid), but it wants more.
Specifically, the ONR wants a 64-megajoule hypervelocity job, able to lob its projectiles 200 miles or more and have them arrive still going at Mach 5-plus.
These irresistible magnetic thunderbolts would be very hard to defend against, perhaps restoring the surface warship to its lost dominion over the seas and coastal areas of the world. (Surface warships are pretty much the only mobile systems which might be able to supply enough electricity to run a combat-grade railgun.)
Perhaps more relevantly to the USN - whose dominance of the oceans is not, after all, in much doubt at the moment - there would be logistic benefits. The shells would be solid metal, delivering their violence kinetically rather than explosively, and there would likewise be no need for the dangerous chemical propellants (gunpowder) used in today's cannon.
Shipping munitions about, keeping them in date, avoiding them catching fire and so on are all big issues for modern navies. Harassed supply chiefs would much prefer to be dealing merely with inert projectiles and extra supplies of fuel for the ship's powerplant.
As the ONR note, "one of the greatest potential advantages for the Railgun program is the safety and logistics aspect".
The new prototype magnocannon is expected to start shooting in 2011. ®
*From I Sing the Body Electric. As any fule kno.
I believe a railrailgungun would be a gun used for shooting railrailguns at you enemies. A gun for shooting at railrailguns would be an antirailrailgungun and gun for shooting at this weapon would be an antiantirailrailgungungun.
Isn't there one of those geek "rules" that says something like "Reality will always be wierder than the most outrageous joke or satire"? We have here some more evidence supporting that statement. :-)
@robbie: I guess 200m is the best they can aspire to at present, rather than the most they think they'll ever need. Come any further advances in tech, and they'll gleefully extend the range to hit targets ever further inland. Anyway, we already have a large proportion of the human population within 200m of the sea. Russia, China and Iran may be out of range, but there are lots of smaller countries they can terrorise with such a weapon. And the Marines will love it - Having heavy arty support you as you land has got to have advantages over just having Harriers.
@Greg Trocchia: What I read years ago suggested that "Mach 5+" at launch is in fact Mach 7. If that is still correct, the shell only loses 2/7 of its velocity before hitting the target - A smaller fraction than I would have thought, but I guess travelling 200m at hypersonic speeds happens too quickly to matter much to the shell.
East, west: sub's best
A couple of questions:
Against which enemy or enemies does the USA need a 200 mile shelling range? Can't be Russia or China, 'cos they've got the submarines to sink these ships in half an hour. Most of Iran is out of range, unless the septics can build one in the Caspian Sea, so I reckon that leaves North Korea and the UK, 'cos our subs are all laid up in Rosyth dockyard.
Secondly, I'm curious about barrel length. I fancy this will severely limit the possible angle of elevation, unless the ship is to be modeled along the lines of the Pepsi Max at Blackpool.