Home » News & Analysis » Navy Making Room for Railguns in Next Warship, But No Extra Investments


Navy Making Room for Railguns in Next Warship, But No Extra Investments

High-speed camera image of the Office of Naval Research Electromagnetic Railgun located at the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division, firing a world-record setting 33 mega-joule shot in 2010. ONR Photo

THE PENTAGON – The Navy’s next large surface combatant will have all the space, weight and power margins the sea service could need now and into the future to accommodate new weapons in development – but the director of surface warfare said the Navy would not accelerate weapons development to get them ready in time to outfit the new ships.

Rear Adm. Ron Boxall, OPNAV N96, spoke to USNI News on Aug. 28, in his first interview on the Future Surface Combatant program since its initial capabilities document was signed out by leadership.

Noting that the next large surface combatant would pull from some of the advances made with the Zumwalt-class destroyers (DDG-1000) – including potentially its integrated power system that could easily support laser guns, an electromagnetic railgun, powerful radars and other power-hungry technologies – Boxall told USNI News that the new large surface combatant represented an opportunity to put these technologies into the surface fleet whereas the legacy Arleigh Burke-class destroyers simply do not have the power and cooling capacity to do so.

“We’re just excited that we think we do have something that is expandable, has SWaP-C (space, weight, power and cooling) for the future. I think all of us were kind of a little bit nervous about the DDG Flight III and whether we’ll have long-term ability to put future energy weapons on there, or the power that we need for directed energy, lasers, things like that,” he said.

But just because the new ship will be able to support energy weapons doesn’t mean Boxall wants to accelerate energy weapons development to ensure they’re ready to field on the first new ships. He said moving to the Future Surface Combatant in 2023 is an “aggressive timeline” and that at some point the Navy will have to “snap the chalk line and say, this is what you have that’s good enough to go on there” – and if a technology isn’t ready, it would wait for fielding in a later block buy of the ship.

With the Navy already seeking a new hull to better support the Aegis Combat System and the AN/SPY-6(V) Air and Missile Defense radar – collectively called the DDG-51 Flight III capability – Boxall said he didn’t want to force too many changes all at once.

“So I’m inclined to say, as long as we build it modularly, we’re going to make those assessments in stride” in terms of inserting in new weapons as they come through the development process, he said.
“But I don’t want to get too crazy about trying to accelerate new technology in the first of the class as we change hulls, which will hopefully be a hull that will be with us for a very long time.”

The Afloat Forward Staging Base (Interim) USS Ponce (ASB(I) 15) conducts an operational demonstration of the Office of Naval Research (ONR)-sponsored Laser Weapon System (LaWS) while deployed to the Arabian Gulf on November 17, 2014. US Navy photo.

This situation bodes well for the laser gun, which is about to begin a second phase of at-sea testing aboard an amphibious ship but has not been able to be installed yet on a surface combatant. The first iteration of the Laser Weapon System (LaWS) spent three years aboard the former amphibious ship turned afloat forward staging base USS Ponce (AFSB(I)-15), being tested in the harsh and complex Persian Gulf maritime environment. When the Navy looked for a host for the next-generation LaWS, amphibious transport dock USS Portland (LPD-27) was chosen because it had the margins to support the laser gun that a destroyer simply didn’t.

A series of ship checks selected the LPD class over the Arleigh Burke-class destroyers (DDG-51) or amphibious assault ships after looking at cooling, power, air conditioning, space and weight margins and other factors,” USNI News reported when the Portland announcement was made.

So for something like the laser gun, which has already gone through the shipboard integration process and proven it can be successful in a maritime environment, the new large surface combatant represents a great opportunity for the technology: the laser guns could get out to sea on more ships, and therefore gain more operational experience and more lessons learned to guide future development of the weapon.

But for a program like the railgun, the Future Surface Combatant program may not do anything to spur its development.

A 2012 image of a Navy laser weapons system. US Navy Image

The Office of Naval Research began an Innovative Naval Prototype program for electromagnetic railgun technology in 2005, and in 2012 ONR began a second phase that focused on getting the railgun ready for operational use – specifically, demonstrating a 10-shots-per-minute firing rate. Though the INP spans until 2020, it covers only the science and technology development portion of the program and cannot conduct the shipboard integration piece – engineering a gun mount that connects to the ship and its combat system; engineering a battery or other power system to support the railgun if the ship cannot supply sufficient power on its own; and marinizing the system to withstand the saltwater, sand, wind and other conditions at sea.

Several sources suggested to USNI News last year that railgun was struggling to gain support to make the transition from a research project to an acquisition program, and that if it were to get wrapped up in the Future Surface Combatant momentum then it may have an easier time getting funding for the gun mount and other integration efforts.

Though ONR could not talk about the future of the railgun program, ONR Electromagnetic Railgun program officer Tom Boucher told USNI News in December 2017 that “we have been working with our transition partner, PEO IWS (Program Executive Office for Integrated Warfare Systems), and the Staff of the Chief of Naval Operations to chart a path forward for the follow-on development of an integrated Railgun System. The Navy is continually assessing the maturation of key Railgun/[high velocity projectile] system technologies and the associated schedule to deploy an operational capability on a ship. The results of land-based testing will guide future risk reduction demonstrations and inform system requirements and the timeline to a deployable system.”

Asked about what it would take to get from today’s railgun to a deployable system for a warship, Boucher said, “in addition to our progress on hardware development we have also been working hard to reduce the size and weight of our system. We have increased energy density and improved the packaging of capacitors. We believe we have a system design basis that will allow a 32 MJ system to fit in a destroyer-sized hull right now without impacting other critical weapon systems, for instance the number of VLS cells available. … The only significant issue remaining in creating an operationally useful system is development of a Railgun mount to support Railgun’s installation in a ship. That work is normally conducted during the research and development phase by the acquisition community and requires a separate source of funding. There are no known show stoppers to the launcher and power system work being conducted by ONR. Rather, it will be an engineering effort to develop the mount.”

An artist rendering shows the Office of Naval Research-funded electromagnetic railgun installed aboard the joint high-speed vessel USNS Millinocket (JHSV- 3) the Navy canceled. US Navy Image

The ONR INPs’ “goal is to develop and test a prototype railgun barrel that can fire a projectile with 32 megajoules muzzle energy, that has long bore life and is capable of being fired at 10 rounds per minute,” Boucher said.
“Our current generation of Railgun launchers has already achieved our objective size and 32 MJ launch energy,” and the bore life is already looking better than conventional guns and is set for even better performance in the future thanks to ongoing work with advanced materials.

The last piece, the 10-rounds-a-minute rate, is still being worked on. It could not be achieved at the previous test facility because the launcher was not cooled, limiting it to just three shots in a row before it would need time to cool down. With a new test site stood up that has a thermal management system for the railgun, “we expect to achieve 10 rounds per minute at 32 megajoules by the end of 2018.”

ONR could not be reached this week to provide an update since the December 2017 comments Boucher provided.

Office of Naval Research and Naval Surface Warfare Center, Dahlgren Division, conduct the first shot of the Railgun at the terminal range November 17, 2016. ONR Image

The Fiscal Year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act that was signed into law earlier this month added $20 million to the Navy budget to ” accelerate Navy railgun development and prototyping,” though it is unclear if this funding could cover any of the gun mount and integration work that ONR can’t do under the scope of its INP program. The congressional appropriators have not yet passed a 2019 spending plan, and that increase in railgun spending would not go into effect unless the appropriations bill also included the money.

Boxall told USNI News this week that “we’ve made more progress putting lasers on ships than we have for putting a railgun [on a ship], because it’s not just about the gun, it’s about the power distribution and all those things. So those are exactly the things we’re looking at.”

Though he said the Navy would not make a specific effort to accelerate railgun to match its development with that of the new surface combatant, he said the large surface combatant would be waiting for the railgun whenever it matures and is ready for shipboard operations.

“When we design [the large surface combatant], we want to make sure we have the opportunity to put those in in a modular fashion. So if you’re going to put some whatever in the future, you’re going to put it in this space, and here’s the space and weight and power it should fit into. So we’re designing, we hope, for the future to build enough of that potential future power and weight to get what we think we need.”

  • Curtis Conway

    Spec the hull out to be build to a standard that will last! “…which will hopefully be a hull that will be with us for a very long time.” If wishes were horses, beggars would ride. Tell industry to build something that last like a Coast Guard Cutter.

    • Rocco

      That’s asking for too much lately!!look how we build cars!! Even Harley-Davidson sucks!

      • Curtis Conway

        Rocco, you get another raise for leading my fan club.

  • RunningBear

    I realize we taxpayers got a “good deal” on the Zumwalt hull at 3 but “if” they add another 12 or so hulls without re-engineering, program management, what ever other bureaucracy costs to be added. Zumwalt with 80′ beam and 600′ length vs. AB with 66′ beam and 509′ length (what was added for block III??), is there enough room for future applications????
    🙂

  • Duane

    Modularizing and doing relatively small block buys shows that the Navy has finally learned how to design and build ships that don’t become technologically obsolete long before the production run ends. The continued acceleration in tech change demands these kinds of approaches.

    I remember reading a few years ago a statement by one of the F-35 design team leaders. He said that the current software build for F-35 adopted several key features modeled on the iPhone operating system that proved to be very important. Of course, the F-35 program was launched back in 2000, long before the iPhone was introduced in 2007. In 2000, most people, if asked about their “portable device” would have had no idea what the questioner was talking about.

    “You mean, I can carry a computer in my pocket … and I can get high speed internet on it? And I can watch high definition video on it too? And I can shoot my own hi def video and post it to the internet direct from my phone? Ya gotta be kiddin’ me, man!”

    That was just 11 years ago. Now virtually every adult and child over the age of five has one of these devices in their pocket and uses it hours per day.

    Ships last way too long to be saddled with built in electronics and weaps that can’t be readily swapped for the successor system.

    • RunningBear

      The intent to add directed energy will be the next significant challenges for the marine engineers/ architects.

      1- Moving the energy from the 78MW source to the deck should be a huge challenge with water-tite/ damage control technologies.

      2- The challenge of operating the ship with significant energy distribution from the main propulsion systems; tactics, technologies, etc.

      3- The instantaneous expenditure of 30-100MW off the deck will certainly evolve a “Hey, I’m Over Here” signal to every EW system out to the local horizon!

      Like the F-35 designers, they best be on their “A” game!

      IMHO
      🙂

      • Sean

        “Our current generation of Railgun launchers has already achieved our
        objective size and 32 MJ launch energy,” and the bore life is already
        looking better than conventional guns and is set for even better
        performance in the future thanks to ongoing work with advanced
        materials.

        1- Moving the energy from the 78MW source to the deck should be a huge challenge with water-tite/ damage control technologies.

        We’re starting to get practice with this with the Ford’s EMALS. Very different scenario, but the electric catapult is, in some sense, a very large, very slow railgun.

        2-
        The challenge of operating the ship with significant energy
        distribution from the main propulsion systems; tactics, technologies,
        etc.

        Zumwalt and M&M are our testbeds here. Obviously, there have been a few hiccups along the way, but we are learning. Heck, the USN did turbo electric drive in the 20’s and 30’s.

        • vetww2

          Not hiccups, Upchuck. If you are directly involved, I would like to exchange hard data. If not stop the B.S.
          As to your last statement, I did 96.5 knots in the gulf and vertically lauched an SM2 at 60 knots and hit the target, It made the cover of Aviation Week, and I got a 25g SECNAV BONUS. SO WHAT?
          To expand, as to my current activities, I concluded my last Navy consulting contract, for a seaplane UAV,”Sea Scout”, 3 years ago. My last commercial contract for “Friction Stir Welding is now being closed out.
          Whereas, the items we are now discussing were evaluated, tested and rejected, 40 years ago makes them no less pertinent,
          Your phoney, Madison Ave STATEMENTS are either, TO BE CHARITABLE, mistaken, or if not, totally reprehensible and knowingly, FALSE.
          Incidentally, what are your CURRENT Qualifications?

          • brindle

            Projectile launching from surface vessels is hardly the future of warfare.

          • Duane

            It is for missile defense.

    • Lazarus

      Sadly the US acquisition and test and evaluation system is intrinsically hostile to innovation since it means uncertainty and potentially higher short term costs. Those systems are as much an impediment to technological advance as is the work in overcoming technological challenges. If asked to develop IPhone capabilities, the system would likely kick out an improved Sony Walkman attached to a 1990’s era bag phone.

    • brindle

      Isn’t it amazing that with all of that computer power and information access that the world is not a better place by orders of magnitude? To me, it says to some degree, that human emotion, greed, avarice, and jealousy are still the prime movers of the human condition.

      • Duane

        By most practical measures, life IS far better today than in any prior era. In the last half of the 19th century, about 85% of all humans had income below the poverty level … today that is about 10% of world population. In the second half of the 19th century, average life expectancy world wide was in the upper 40s, today it is in the upper 70s. Very few people lived in representative democracies, while today the majority do (even counting China as non democratic, which they are). In the 20th century about 90 million people were killed in wars … 18 years into the 21st, the number is well under one million killed in wars.

        Times are definitely the best they’ve ever been for humans.

        • brindle

          I totally agree that times are the best for humans. It is just an interesting teleological question about what the provision of incredible sums of knowledge to the majority of humanity has meant. One might think that provision of this incredible power to the average human might result in a logarithmic increase in the expansion of productivity and discovery. Alas, it would appear more likely that it has resulted in the average human spending a lot of time on Facebook.

  • TheFightingIrish

    Just curious, but what kind of EM signature does a rail gun generate? And, how far away could it be detected by a potential adversary? I’m not opposed to the rail gun, just a little concerned that using one at sea might give away the firing ship’s position.

    • Duane

      The propagation of electromagnetic energy through air is highly dependent upon frequency or wavelength of the alternating radio wave energy. A rail gun uses pulsed direct current, not alternating current, that generates a magnetic pulse that moves down the rail at a relatively low speed compared to the propagation speed of EM energy, which travels at the speed of light. Its been a long time since my college physics courses, but my recollection is that a device like a railgun would not emit EM energy detectible at any useful range from the device.

      • vetww2

        Go back to your physics book. “McGuffy’s Reader?”

        • Duane

          Quote me the formulas from your books.

    • RunningBear

      Radar(s), Radios, EW antennas, Generators, Motors, and then the IR spectrums, followed by the mechanical vibration spectrums into the bonny blue sea. The railgun will have to get inline with the electrical, electronics world of emissions. 32 – 100MW exhausted over 50 – 60′ of barrel length in 1 second or less and quick recharge capacitors/ generators will definitely light up the EM signatures. It will probably localize the gun/ ship in most EW systems, and it will take a heck of a decoy to “hide” the source.
      IMHO
      🙂

      • vetww2

        DONT WORRY. THIS TURKEY WON’T FLY.

    • registered_with_discus

      Technically, if you are firing a gun (rail, as it were), stealth is the last thing you need to worry about at this point.

  • Ctrot

    Caption of the first picture tells a sad tale , “firing a world-record setting 33 mega-joule shot in 2010”.
    In 2010? Why, if we are really making progress in this field, has such a record stood for 8 years?

    • NavySubNuke

      Maybe we are just getting better about not providing free intel on how powerful we can make our guns to China.
      That is my hope anyway…
      Could also just be that we don’t need more than 33 mega-joules to meet requirements. Based on the article it seems like effort has been focused on increasing barrel life and rate of fire rather than total power. A 32-mega-joule rail gun that can fire 10 times a minute for 1000 – 2000 rounds is a more usable weapons system then say a 60 mega-joule gun that fires 1 shot every 5 minutes and needs a new barrel every 200 shots.

    • thebard3

      To fire ‘a’ shot is different than firing multiple shots at a consistently attainable rate. I think a major factor of the railgun development is longevity of components, which is demonstrably below what is acceptable for deployment.

      • Duane

        The barrel wear problem has already been addressed, with Dahlgren having achieved earlier this year the desired 1,000+ shot barrel life objective.

        The next challenge is getting 10 spm at 32 MJ.

        • Ron

          Where Dahlgren did report about 1,000+ shot barrel life, can you provide a link?

          I didn’t see any such reports, and the article didn’t mention it either. The only source I found about barrel’s life was an interview of Boucher from last year where he says about “hundreds of shots”, but didn’t specify how many (two hundreds – or more ;), and at what energy…

          • Duane

            It was announced by General Atomics, Dahlgren’s prime contractor for naval railguns, last spring when the Army signed them to a contract to design a railgun for the Army, based upon their milestone achieved for the Navy.

            The target number is 1,000+ shots, which has always been the target for the R&D program. A year ago (July 2017) a Dahlgren spokesman stated to the media that the program had already exceeded 400 plus shots and expected to hit their target of 1,000+ shots within one year. They got there within 9 months.

          • Secundius

            As Announced by “General Atomics” !/?. “The Fox Guarding the Hen House”. What are the “Official” US Navy Reports…

          • Duane

            It was announced by General Atomics when the Army announced it just awarded GA a contract to develop an Army railgun based on GA’s success on the Navy’s railgun. The Army does not take a contractor’s word – they go straight to the Navy, i.e. the Dahlgren SuW Center.

            ICYMI, read this post above where the Navy spokesman said the barrel wear issue has been resolved and railgun barrels now last longer than other naval gun barrels.

          • Secundius

            IF the Barrel Issue IS Resolved! Then the US Navy IS satisfied that General Atomics reached it’s ~3,000-round Shots Fired Goal. Anything under ~3,000-rounds fired, means that IT “Hasn’t” met the US Navy’s ~3,000-round goal. Which IS IT…

          • Duane

            There was never an objective of 3,000+ shots for the railgun. No long range naval gun of 155mm can do 3,000 shots a barrel. Only a smaller short barreled gun like the 5 in 54 cal gun gets that many shots. And it is only good to 13 nm, very short range! The longer the barrel, the longer the range and the shorter the barrel life. The only somewhat long range version of the 5 in gun (a foreign design not on any US ship) uses rocket propelled projectiles and gets only about 1,000 shots barrel life. And it is smaller than the 155 mm railgun. Smaller = longer barrel life.

          • Secundius

            “Global Security”, Electromagnet Rail Gun (EMRG). Within the First Paragraph! Don’t forget to wear you’re glasses, Old Eyes are easily confused…

            ( https : // www . globalsecurity . org / military / systems / ship /systems / emrg . htm )

          • vetww2

            IT WAS A COMPUTER-GENERATED ADVERTISEMENT. VERY HARD TO SHOOT IN COMBAT.

        • vetww2

          The shot heard ’round the corner.

          • vetww2

            Won’t an SES-6 do?

    • Duane

      As the post stated, there are several design challenges associated with producing a practical railgun weapon, and all have to be resolved at the same time. The 33 MJ energy release is just one. Additionally, barrel wear at extremely high velocities had to be resolved via evolving materials engineering, such that 1,000+ shots can be achieved; reducing the size of the electrical power supply, conditioning, and storage system to fit on a warship; getting the firing rate up to the desired 10 shots per minute; designing and producing a variety of precision guided projectiles with both kinetic hit to kill as well as high explosive detonation capabilities; and eventually engineering all of the above capabilities into a practical weapon system to fit onboard a warship, integrated with sensors, magazine feed systems, and combat data information systems.

      Achieving all of that together has been a huge technological challenge, obviously.

      The good news is that the Navy’s Dahlgren Center and its contractor have resolved the barrel wear issue, development of the power system, and the firing rate up to 10 spm at lower energy levels (around 12 MJ), along with development of the projectiles. The last step before turning it over to the engineers as a program of record is to get the power level up to 32MJ while sustaining the firing rate of 10 spm and maintaining barrel life at 1,000+ shots.

      • vetww2

        SORRY kid, but you are spreading pure hokum. Velocity has nothing to do with barrel wear, except for the friction it generates. This is alleviated by coo;ing. The friction is only a small part of any barrel heating in propellant guns. the intense combustion heat of rthe propellent is the major factor. Air guns usually don’t heat up at all. That was one of the explanations given as a malor selling point in this total B.S. system. The friction coefficient of steel on steel is .0002. Miniscule.

        You forget, I started this in 1977, in NAVSEA03R, with the nuclear boys, looking for new applications and novel devices. We called the general scheme, “the Linear Accelerater” which is essentially an electric motor opened up and laid flat’ The principal application for the concept was a catapult of some kind. We turned the R&D work that we had done over to Lakehurst, who had the responsibility for catapults and, as you should know, has done a marvelous job with it. It is also useful as the first boost stage for a missile. We rejected it as a gun system because we found it impractical for many reasons. It’s a “looks good in the shower” scheme.

        If Dahlgren is, indeed pushing this and you have all this access. I would like to meet with them, and discuss this Baloney being generated, This is just like the 26 million dollars Bell swindled the Navy for to develop a pure Hollywood “Caterpillar” drive that they saw in a movie, Hunt for Red October. (It was not in the book, read it).
        If you want an electric augmented gun, try an ETC development.

        • Buisness Orc

          Heh China just announced a rocket artillery program using EM accelerator tech for a boost stage push in order to obtain extreme altitude and range

          • Secundius

            Sandia National Laboratories and Lockheed-Martin did the same thing in 2014. With the EMML (ElectroMagnetic Missile Launcher)…

          • vetww2

            You too? READ my missive and you won’t need more on the subject.

          • Secundius

            IF you made the Comment Early, I did’t receive it! For some reason I only receive USNI News comment two day after First Posting. I suspect that because, of being on USNI News “Short” Sh|t List of those they (USNI Fo-Police) like too Redact)…

          • vetww2

            ME, too!!! I’m a USNI Cellar-Dweller.

          • Secundius

            With me it’s in excess of 400…

          • vetww2

            WOWEEE!

          • vetww2

            Here it is in its entirety
            :vetww2 Duane • 2 days ago
            SORRY kid, but you are spreading pure hokum. Velocity has nothing to do with barrel wear, except for the friction it generates. This is alleviated by coo;ing. The friction is only a small part of any barrel heating in propellant guns. the intense combustion heat of rthe propellent is the major factor. Air guns usually don’t heat up at all. That was one of the explanations given as a malor selling point in this total B.S. system. The friction coefficient of steel on steel is .0002. Miniscule.

            You forget, I started this in 1977, in NAVSEA03R, with the nuclear boys, looking for new applications and novel devices. We called the general scheme, “the Linear Accelerater” which is essentially an electric motor opened up and laid flat’ The principal application for the concept was a catapult of some kind. We turned the R&D work that we had done over to Lakehurst, who had the responsibility for catapults and, as you should know, has done a marvelous job with it. It is also useful as the first boost stage for a missile. We rejected it as a gun system because we found it impractical for many reasons. It’s a “looks good in the shower” scheme.

            If Dahlgren is, indeed pushing this and you have all this access. I would like to meet with them, and discuss this Baloney being generated, This is just like the 26 million dollars Bell swindled the Navy for to develop a pure Hollywood “Caterpillar” drive that they saw in a movie, Hunt for Red October. (It was not in the book, read it).
            If you want an electric augmented gun, try an ETC develop

          • Duane

            Repeating an untrue and/or misleading summary based on your memory of failed efforts from 40 plus years ago is still false and irrelevent to today’s program which has succeeded in its work to date which is not yet complete but getting very close to conversion into an engineering program of record

            You are whining about the present program apparently out of selfish envy that they succeeded where you failed. You need to reexamine your attitude and motives, for you are setting a terrible example as a retired elder professional.

            The equipment I trained on and operated back in the 70s has long been superseded by far more advanced technology … and I celebrate those who followed me and my contemporaries who have clearly produced and operated better stuff.

            You on the other hand write like a grumpy old man who feels compelled to denigrate and dismiss all who came after you. You should be ashamed of your attitude, but I expect that you have no such shame.

          • vetww2

            I am as sharp? as ever The comments and DATA on DD1000 ithat I was there for, is from 2006.
            On the other hand TRUTH is AGELESS. B,S. IS ERASABLE.. soooo, cut the Madison avenue flailing defenses and stick to FACTS, something your posts seem to have a paucity of.

          • vetww2

            If you read my entry, you will find that is PRECISELY, what I said. Thanks.
            I QUOTE,’ The principal application for the concept was a catapult of some kind. We turned the R&D work that we had done over to Lakehurst, who had the responsibility for catapults and, as you should know, has done a marvelous job with it. It is also useful as the first boost stage for a missile.”

        • Duane

          Sorry, you are 40 years behind the curve dude.

          I did not write that friction was the controlling factor, you did.

          The barrel life challenge had to do with both friction and the heat generated by the EM pulse, and materials properties. As power input increases, for a given weight and aerodynamic design of the projectile, the heat and friction both increase.

          In the earliest days of the program, the barrels could withstand only one or a small handful of shots. As Dahlgren reported earlier this year via their contactor General Atomics, they finally exceeded the objective of 1,000 shots barrel life. But only at the lower power level of 12 MJ. Their next objective is increasing power to 32 MJ while still maintaining a barrel life of 1,000+ shots and a 10 spm firing rate. That will be the last hurdle before it can be turned into an engineering design program of record.

          Dahlgren hasn’t offered a target date yet for that milestone.

          • vetww2

            How about a target date of 25th century for Buck Rogers?

          • vetww2

            Duane, I am surprised at you. Your post should be in the FICTION section.

    • Secundius

      “Generally Atonic” (General Atomics) have been “Tweaking” the Tests! Tests at the Dahlgren Test Range, were performed using the 7.5MJ Rail Gun, NOT the 32MJ Rail Gun…

      • Duane

        That isn’t a tweak or a lie. Nobody claimed that the barrel life and firing rate had been achieved yet at 32 MJ. If that were the case the railgun would already be an engineering design program of record.

        • vetww2

          What about your “1000 round life”?

      • vetww2

        GI, GO.

    • Bob

      The railgun program is dead in Congress. The facts about this fraud were read by many when published on-line this year. Google “G2mil railgun” for the reality.

      • Duane

        BS …Congress not only continues to support railguns via annual NDAA laws to continue its authorization, but significantly increased funding for it over the last several years as it has produced successful results.

      • Ctrot

        I have my doubts about railguns but that “G2mil” site is out of date, and flat wrong on some specifics. I do like the conclusion however, the Mk71 is something that should have been and still should be pursued.

  • DaSaint

    Sounds like good progress. I’m curious as to range and accuracy.

  • Icepilot

    Disappointed that there’s no mention of nuclear power. You start shoving 20,000 tons thru the water at 30 kts, firing lasers/railguns & the advantages of having an inexhaustible supply of fuel become obvious. It also significantly increases the range & speed of the entire Battlegroup, which could provide an essential margin for victory.

    • vetww2

      Please read my entrys above.

  • vetww2

    What in the world is the smoke? Could they have stuck a teen-weeny charge of 10,000 volt gunpowdes to help it out of the hole?

    • Secundius

      Think of the Rail Gun as being a Magnesium Fire Striker! Every time a Tungsten Carbide Projectile is Fired it shaves off mynute pieces of the barrel. And with the velocity of the projectile, those mynute pieces of metal catching fire and belching smoke…

      • vetww2

        OK. You have now gone completely delusional. A magnesium barrel and a Tungsten round?

        • Secundius

          How many Shots Fired from a Rail Gun’s Gun Rail/Barrel has to be shot before the Barrel becomes useless. Keep in mind, the US Navy;s requirements was for a Barrel Life of ~3,000-rounds. A WWII 16-inch Naval Gun’s barrel life was ~390-rounds…

          • Duane

            The development objective for the railgun was 1,000+ shots, which is comparable to that achieved in larger naval guns (155 mm). The bigger the gun, and the longer the barrel (i.e., longer range), the fewer the shots. An 8 inch heavy cruiser gun was good for about 600-700 shots, a 16 in gun about 250-300 shots. A 5 in gun, depending upon munition, anywhere from 1,000 to 3,000 shots (the rocket assisted long range shells being at the lower end of that range, and the short barreled, short range guns used on DDG51s at the upper end).

            The ultimate barrel life for the railgun is still increasing, now that the minimum 1,000 shots has been surpassed. Dahlgren and GA think they can get into the multiple thousands of shots, with a 155 mm gun and an ultimate max range in excess of 100 nm, which of course no chem propelled shell can come remotely close to. The Army just announced they can fire a chem propelled 155mm howitzer to 70 km, or about 38 nm, their longest ever for a 155.

            Now the Army wants to leverage off the naval railgun for their own long range fires program. They inked a huge contract with GA back in April of this year.

          • Secundius

            My Dear “Duane”, the US Navy’s GOAL was for ~3,000-round from the General Atomics” 64MJ Rail Gun for the DDG-1000. NOT ~1,000-rounds from the General Atomics 7.5MJ Static Mounted Test Gun at the US Navy Dahlgren Artillery Range…

          • vetww2

            Then it could be relined.

          • Secundius

            So could the Mk.7 16-inch Naval Gun! But still required a Naval Station to have the “Relining” to be preformed. It’s not likely that the US Congress is going to “Cough-Up” the funds for a Specialized Tender (i.e. Destroyer Tender) for the purpose…

  • brindle

    Submarine controlled drones are the future of warfare upon the high seas for now. As well as sub launched missiles, torps and mines. Spending billions upon surface ships as offensive weapons is a waste of time and money. Carriers as force projection to some extent, but against any significant adversary it is unlikely that any surface launched projectile is going to hit anything. Save some money and use ABs for when we go to war with Venezuela.

  • Duane

    Just read what the Admiral states in this very post, that the barrel wear issue has already been resolved such that railgun now has equal to or better barrel life than equivalent sized guns in the fleet.

  • Duane

    Read the Admiral’s statement, right here in this post. The barrel wear issue is resolved.

  • Duane

    Try joining the 21st century.

  • Duane

    The obvious advantages of railguns over any chemically propelled rounds are

    1) lower cost, since no propellant need be added

    2) Deeper magazine for a given volume, again since 2/3 to 3/4 of the total volume of a chem shell is its cartridge case and propellant

    3) Greater safety, since no explosive or flammable chem propellant is needed.

    4) Speeds achievable by railguns far exceed any possible chem round … hence greater range and better capability at intercepting hypersonic missiles.

    The railgun may not be a bottomless magazine system, but practically far closer to it than any chem round gun can ever get.

    • SierraSierraQuebec

      The talking points in real terms:
      1)The EMG capacitor magazine is far more expensive than cylinders of solid propellant.
      2)The capacitor magazine will take up far more volume than stored chemical energy in floodable magazines.
      3)Only short range kinetic anti-missile projectiles would have no explosives, even tanks carry more explosive shells more often than long rod penetrators since they are only of significant value against other tanks at moderate ranges. Tens of megajoules of stored electrical charge in the magazine represents a threat to the ship, difficult to quantify due to a lack of precedent, but certainly capable of catastrophic effects if ruptured.
      4)The EMG system is far heavier, voluminous, and expensive just to shoot a projectile with 75% more energy at a 33% greater velocity that the EM projectile largely losses after 10-15km and at a rate of fire only about 12-25% of the conventional system that already can fit in to existing destroyer gun systems refitted for a slightly larger projectile. Reliability and durability of EMG’s aren’t even within 1% of comparable conventional systems.
      5)Binary propellants and electrothermal plasma techniques have more promise of achieving higher velocities with a more cost efficient impact on the delivered system and offer a direct upgrade route from conventional gun systems.
      6)Most importantly, a conventional system exists in unconnected parts right now whereas the theoretical EMG has not achieved even its arbitrarily specified and inadequate baseline. Frequently technologies advance quickly but hit barriers to practical application. I am not holding my breath for an atomic or cold fusion powered car, superconductive hovershoes, or a hydrogen fuel cell for my house or business, and linear accelerator cannons aren’t far from such a list either.

      EMG research would have been better off directed at increasing the rifle bullet load of the infantry with a weapon restricted to ranges of low and current velocities, fully selective rates of fire, and regulation of spin for enhanced accuracy, intentional dispersion, and counter-defilade fire, in a weapon with a very light and compact held section energized with carried binary propellants. Start with the basic and work up.

      • Duane

        The electric plant serves many roles, not just powering the railgun. High powered radars like AMDR, directed energy weapons, and of course propulsion and hotel loads … plus any weapons and sensors we have yet to develop. All-electric ships are the ships of the 21st century.

        Big capacitors do not represent a safety risk that is any higher than any high voltage power system presents, and is nothing compared to the proven risk of explosive ordinance magazines. The hull volume consumed by capacitors is far less than that consumed by conventional munitions magazines and missile tubes, and anybody who fails to understand the huge risks posed by explosive ordinance magazines does not understand naval history or naval design.

        • SierraSierraQuebec

          Perhaps you should share your discovery of the energy density of capacitors with the automotive industry, they have spent decades with electric cars trying to get even within a fraction of the power density of stored chemical energy engines.
          Did you read this in a brochure from some organization with a vested interest in linear accelerator guns, and could you forward the link to the CEO’s of Ford, GM, and Chrysler?

          Where you plan to put the rest of the ships armament of missiles and offensive projectiles now deemed too dangerous remains to be seen, but regardless, the overwhelming majority of ships have been lost to fires and loss of buoyancy, the LCS like battlecruisers of China Jack vintage being the only major examples of explosions resulting from the reckless storage of ready propellant in unprotected spaces, and with binary propellants used to fuel electrothermal chemical plasmas that risk becomes zero.
          And again, things that exist now versus undemonstrated theory.

      • vetww2

        GOOD SHOW, THANKS.

    • vetww2

      No, it is just a bottomless pit of $$$$$$waste.
      EVERY item you state above is, patently , FALSE. but,
      I will let others refute them.

  • mlmontagne

    I hope this strategy doesn’t result in a bunch hulls sitting in port with no guns in them.
    I find it interesting that the Navy is just referring to a “Large Surface Combatant” without so much as hinting what rate of vessel it might be. The Zumwalt class “destroyers” of course, are really much closer to the size of cruisers, although greatly underpowered and under armed. I, personally, am in favor of large, powerful, warships. If a weapons system can fit in a destroyer, then a larger, more powerful version of it can go in a cruiser, and a still more powerful iteration could go in a battleship.
    Of course, depending on the effectiveness of these new systems, lots of less expensive destroyers might well be more effective than fewer, more expensive, capital ships. We need something that can shoot down Chinese aircraft before they know they’ve been spotted, and rain so much scunion down on Chinese aircraft carriers that they can’t operate. I just wish the Chinese weren’t financing their construction, whatever they turn out to be.

  • Secundius

    Actually if you Dig Deep Enough you can find “Duane’s” “General Atomics” claims. Unfortunately THEY ARE “General Atomics” claims. NOT Verifiable by other sources. Considering that General Atomics also designed the USS Gerald R. Ford’s EMAL’s, I’m rather dubious of those claims…

    • Duane

      Read the post above, dude. It is the Navy spokesman who said that the barrel wear issue has been resolved, that railgun barrels now last LONGER than conventional naval gun barrels. He is not a GA flack.

      Besides, if GA lied about what they achieved, they would be subject to criminal sanctions and debarred from further Federal contracting business … and NOT being awarded a huge Army contract based upon falsified claims. As happened in April of this year.

      At some point you are going to have to acknowledge reality and facts, and not continue to pretend that “alternative facts” prevail.

  • Duane

    The key word you cite is “thousandS of shots”, as in MULTIPLES of the objective of 1,000+ shots.

    As stated in the post above by the Navy spokesman said clearly that the barrel wear issue is already resolved. Not maybe, not someday. Now. He said railguns now have longer barrel life than conventional guns.

    • Ron

      You may continue to believe the GA salesman, but there is no hard FACTS to confirm the 1,000+ shots barrel life yet. No one representative did say “we’ve got 1000 shots from the same barrel”.
      In 2016, the GA’s railgun Blitzer did only over a hundred shots at 3 MJ. And I didn’t find any updates from GA about the reported FACTUAL number of shots since then.

      • Duane

        Read the EFFING POST ABOVE!

        The Navy admiral stated IN THIS USNI POST that railgun barrels now LAST LONGER THAN CONVENTIONAL NAVAL GUN BARRELS.

        Are you unable to read a simple statement like that!???

        SMH

        • Ron

          It’s YOU who is unable to read the post above!

          First, Tom Boucher is NOT the Navy ADMIRAL, he is just one of the managers at ONR.
          Second, the statement about comparison with conventional guns is not quoted, and I didn’t find these words in Boucher’s interview of 2017 the author (Megan Eckstein) is referring to. The only mention of such comparison was cited in the recent Report to Congress, which says that railgun barrel life is comparable to one of the 16″ guns (250-300 shots):

          ” the barrels on the current test weapons can last for hundreds of shots before requiring replacement — roughly how long a battleship’s 16″ barrels lasted back in World War II. The goal is a barrel that lasts 1,000
          rounds”

  • Duane

    READ THE POST ABOVE!!

  • Duane

    READ THE EFFING POST ABOVE!!

    The source is the USN Admiral in this post.

  • vetww2

    No matter what the “explainers” say, the experiment is STILL a total failure because:

    1, The concept is for a linear accelerator, like a catapult, not a closed barrel gun,
    2. Straightening out an induction electric motor then putting it in a barrel,defeats the purpose
    3. If in 30 years you make almost NO progress, you should suspect that you’re on the wrong track.
    4. When there are plainly superior systems, which have been PROVEN , both in projectile size and rapid fire (like ETC), it is dumb to pursue another tack just becuse it is (In NAVY’s words) EXOTIC.
    5. When ALL projections are computer generated, not as a result of test, be suspicious.
    6. Firing an unguided round is dumb regardless of its velocity.
    7, A Mach 2 maneuvering round is infinitelly more difficult to defeat than a ballistic round, at any velocity, WE DID IT AT Dahlgren, with my WOW concept in 1983.

    • Secundius

      Try more like 78-years! The Germans produced the First Working Rail Gun in 1942. Continuous Power was the “Achilles Heel” to the Program…

      • old guy

        I believe it was a weapon launcher, not a railgun.

        • Secundius

          My understanding, was that the only “Stable Continuous” Power System available at the time. Was a Steam Turbine from a Naval Ship. Little hard to make one Field Mobile, without the use on a Double Gauge Rail Line and a Trains Flatbed Railcar. Which will attract every “Allied” Fighter Bomber like a “Moth to a Flame”…

  • Rob C.

    This is wishful thinking. They don’t got the money to keep the program going to mature to a functional Railgun. It’s lack of politic will realize that reason why old Battleships were called capital ships, because it will take alot investment (cash and political will) get the Railgun, a game change type weapon from test platform to deckgun.

  • old guy

    What in the world is the smoke? Could they have stuck a teen-weeny charge of 10,000 volt gunpowdes to help it out of the hole?

  • old guy

    What in the world is the smoke? Could they have stuck a teen-weeny charge of 10,000 volt gunpowdes to help it out of the hole?

  • davehogue

    Simple question. After all the BS does the US have a rail gun and is it deployed? If not why?

    • Secundius

      US Navy requirements for Rail Gun Design is ~3,000-rounds before Barrel change. Current Rail Gun Design is barely better then WWII Mk.7 16-inch Naval Rifle (i.e. ~390) rounds. Until a better alloy is found that’s both Magnetic and Wear Resistance, Rail Gun is in a state of Limbo with US Navy…

  • Michael James Gudat

    The U S Naval rail gun appears to be a bit of a bust.That 120 mile range is great as long as the target does not move