USN recharges railgun science and technology effort

06 June 2017
The ONR is continuing risk reduction work to improve the EMRG's bore life as well as demonstrate the ability to shoot 10 rounds per minute. Source: John Williams/USN

Key Points

  • The US Navy asked to cut funding for transitioning EMRG onto a surface combatant
  • Instead the service hopes to have a railgun prototype for at-sea testing in 2019

The US Navy (USN) did not request any funding in its fiscal year 2018 (FY 2018) budget to transition the electro-magnetic railgun (EMRG) onto a ship, but the service would continue to fund research and development (R&D) efforts with the goal of fielding a prototype for testing in FY 2019.

In its FY 2018 budget the USN requested USD93 million for research, development, test, and evaluation (RDT&E) of several Innovative Naval Prototypes (INPs) that include the EMRG. It is unclear how much would be allocated for railgun because the navy does not publish specific numbers just for EMRG research and development.

Whatever funds are designated for EMRG would be used to continue progressing towards a 32 megajoule (MJ), 10 round per minute railgun capability with a long-life barrel, Tom Boucher, Office of Naval Research (ONR) programme manager for the EMRG, told Jane's.

Unlike conventional surface ship guns, EMRG uses electricity instead of propellants to fire a projectile (without a warhead) out to ranges beyond 100 n miles. Magnetic fields created by high electrical currents accelerate a sliding metal conductor, or armature, between two rails to launch projectiles at 4,500 mph to 5,600 mph.

"We have been working through [a few] technical areas to make sure that can happen," he said. "Much of this work is being done at the subsystem level and components and then we are bringing them together as we go."

The programme office is focused on several areas: achieving a repetition rate of 10 rounds per minute; finding materials that can be used to extend the EMRG's bore life; managing thermal properties within the gun; and designing a power system for the gun.

Want to read more? For analysis on this article and access to all our insight content, please enquire about our subscription options:

(330 of 1135 words)