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Railgun, HVP offer cheaper counters to new threats, USN says

Continuing research suggests electromagnetic railguns (EMRGs) will be more cost-efficient than traditional weapons in countering future threats, especially when combined with hypervelocity projectile (HVP) technology, according to US Navy (USN) officials.

“Railgun and HVP technology would allow for far cheaper options to counter adversarial threats,” Lieutenant Paul Cross, Naval Strike Missile lead military engineer at the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD), said in a 26 January USN release on railgun research.

“When you look at engagements, the cost-per-engagement becomes an issue that must be addressed for protracted conflicts,” Lt Cross said. “The logistics of having the depth of fire with HVPs, operating at their maximum capability, on shooting platforms, start to become extremely attractive.”

Ben McGlasson, an electric weapons advisor for the Naval Postgraduate School who helped commission its Railgun Laboratory, said in the same USN release, Using guns to defend against those kind of threats helps preserve our own missiles for a higher-end threat. This would be in addition to the surface-strike mission in which the railguns being tested at Dahlgren and White Sands can reach more than 100 nautical miles.”

According to a report on railgun and laser weapons systems released by the Congressional Research Service (CRS) in January 2021 , one of the reasons for the cost-effectiveness of railguns is that EMRG projectiles and other gun-launched guided projectiles (GLGPs) can be stored “by the hundreds” in a navy surface ship’s weapon magazine.

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