Feeds

US Navy coughs $34.5m for hyper-kill railgun that DOESN'T self-destruct

Previous $21m deal got them few-shots-and-it's-over model

Remote control for virtualized desktops

BAE Systems has been handed a $34.5m contract to design a new version of a potentially game-changing weapon of the future.

The US Office of Naval Research gave BAE the cash to build a new railgun prototype which is capable of firing up to 10 shots a minute, while staying cool enough that it doesn't blow up like previous designs. This tendency towards self-destruction has been an abiding problem with the weapons, with railgun prototypes only really expected to survive firing a few shots.

Railguns dispense with explosives and use electromagnetic energy to propel a projectile at super high speeds of up to Mach 7 over distances approaching 200 miles. They are useful for blasting other ships, because the projectiles are extremely difficult to intercept, but could also be used to swat away jet fighters, bombers or missiles.

The Reg's defence expert has previously said the railgun could usher in the second era of the dreadnoughts, the sort of heavily armed gunships that ruled the sea in the days before aircraft carriers.

“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.”

The contract is part of the ONR's Innovative Naval Prototype programme, which has now reached phase 2. The navy wants to see the technology mature by focusing on upgrading the auto-loading mechanism, thermal management system and also the pulsed power supply which helps to power each shot. It is hoped these weapons will be able to fire up to 10 shots a minute.

During Phase 1 of the scheme, Naval Surface Warfare Center in Dahlgren, Virginia successfully fired BAE Systems’ EM Railgun prototype at "tactical energy levels".

Work on the new railgun will begin immediately in BAE Systems's outpost in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The firm will be helped along by IAP Research in Dayton, Ohio and SAIC in Marietta, Georgia.

BAE is not the first company to design a railgun. General Atomics have also made and fired a railgun weapon called Blitzer. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Bladerunner sequel might actually be good. Harrison Ford is in it
Go ahead, you're all clear, kid... Sorry, wrong film
Euro Parliament VOTES to BREAK UP GOOGLE. Er, OK then
It CANNA do it, captain.They DON'T have the POWER!
Musicians sue UK.gov over 'zero pay' copyright fix
Everyone else in Europe compensates us - why can't you?
I'll be back (and forward): Hollywood's time travel tribulations
Quick, call the Time Cops to sort out this paradox!
Megaupload overlord Kim Dotcom: The US HAS RADICALISED ME!
Now my lawyers have bailed 'cos I'm 'OFFICIALLY' BROKE
Forget Hillary, HP's ex CARLY FIORINA 'wants to be next US Prez'
Former CEO has political ambitions again, according to Washington DC sources
prev story

Whitepapers

10 ways wire data helps conquer IT complexity
IT teams can automatically detect problems across the IT environment, spot data theft, select unique pieces of transaction payloads to send to a data source, and more.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
How to determine if cloud backup is right for your servers
Two key factors, technical feasibility and TCO economics, that backup and IT operations managers should consider when assessing cloud backup.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Mitigating web security risk with SSL certificates
Web-based systems are essential tools for running business processes and delivering services to customers.