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

The Power of One Infographic

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. ®

Maximizing your infrastructure through virtualization

More from The Register

next story
Sit back down, Julian Assange™, you're not going anywhere just yet
Swedish court refuses to withdraw arrest warrant
UK Parliament rubber-stamps EMERGENCY data grab 'n' keep bill
Just 49 MPs oppose Drip's rushed timetable
MPs wave through Blighty's 'EMERGENCY' surveillance laws
Only 49 politcos voted against DRIP bill
EU's top data cops to meet Google, Microsoft et al over 'right to be forgotten'
Plan to hammer out 'coherent' guidelines. Good luck chaps!
US judge: YES, cops or feds so can slurp an ENTIRE Gmail account
Crooks don't have folders labelled 'drug records', opines NY beak
Delaware pair nabbed for getting saucy atop Mexican eatery
Burrito meets soft taco in alleged rooftop romp outrage
British cops cuff 660 suspected paedophiles
Arrests people allegedly accessing child abuse images online
LightSquared backer sues FCC over spectrum shindy
Why, we might as well have been buying AIR
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Mobile application security vulnerability report
The alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, and the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.