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    Default Navy prepares to take railguns to sea

    http://arstechnica.com/information-t...il-gun-to-sea/
    Navy prepares to take railgun to sea
    General Atomics- and BAE-built guns will be tested on high-speed vessel in 2016.

    by Sean Gallagher - Apr 8 2014, 11:40am EST

    The General Atomics Blitzer, one of two railguns being tested by the US Navy at Dahlgren, Virginia.

    The US Navy has completed another round of tests in its quest for the ultimate ship’s gun: a functional weapon based on railgun technology. The next step is to take the gun to sea for tests aboard the USNS Millinocket (JHSV 3), a high-speed transport catamaran built by Austal. “We’re beyond lab coats—we’re into engineering now,” said Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Jonathan Greenert during a speech at the Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space Expo in National Harbor, Maryland.

    The railgun is just one of a number of high-energy weapons being tested by the Navy. The first to go to sea will be the Laser Weapon System (LaWS), which will be put to sea aboard the USS Ponce late this summer, the Office of Naval Research confirmed yesterday.

    But the LaWS is a relatively low-power directed energy weapon intended to take out drones, small boats, and other threats at fairly close range. The electromagnetic rail guns, which are being tested at the Naval Surface Warfare Center’s Dahlgren Division in Dahlgren, Virginia, are capable of launching a projectile at speeds over Mach 7 and would have ranges exceeding 100 miles. A 23-pound projectile flying at Mach 7 has 32 megajoules of energy. That’s roughly equivalent to the energy required to accelerate 1,000 kilograms (1.1 US tons) to 252 meters per second—or around 566 miles an hour.

    A video released yesterday by the Naval Sea Systems Command shows the completion of railgun test shots against a number of targets, including a dummy missile warhead and multiple reinforced concrete walls. The Navy has tested two railguns—one built by General Atomics, the makers of the Predator drone, and one built by BAE Systems. Both will be put aboard the Millinocket this summer for demonstration, but the Navy will choose just one for the final test.

    Wow. Such gun. Many boom. Wow.
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    Default Re: Navy prepares to take railguns to sea

    Huh. I never knew Railguns produced giant fiery explosions. I always thought they'd look... I don't know. More scifi. A sonic boom, sure. But not a cloud of burning gas.
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    Default Re: Navy prepares to take railguns to sea

    Quote Originally Posted by Eldan View Post
    Huh. I never knew Railguns produced giant fiery explosions. I always thought they'd look... I don't know. More scifi. A sonic boom, sure. But not a cloud of burning gas.
    Sort of a whirr, flash of light, and instant annihilation?
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    Default Re: Navy prepares to take railguns to sea

    US Navy: Building tomorrow's space-guns for today's ships.

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    Default Re: Navy prepares to take railguns to sea

    Quote Originally Posted by CarpeGuitarrem View Post
    Sort of a whirr, flash of light, and instant annihilation?
    More boom and flash, but yes. I'm not even sure what's exploding in there... as far as I know they don't have any kind of propellant. Sure, the rails probably get very, very hot, but what is it that's burning?
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    Default Re: Navy prepares to take railguns to sea

    Quote Originally Posted by Eldan View Post
    More boom and flash, but yes. I'm not even sure what's exploding in there... as far as I know they don't have any kind of propellant. Sure, the rails probably get very, very hot, but what is it that's burning?
    If I remember correctly, it's probably either because the electrical arc is vaporizing the outside of the sabot into a plasma, or the railgun itself is using an ionized gas as the propellant instead of a magnetic shell/sabot, which looking at the round a little closer doesn't seem to be the case. You can get plasma flashes with even tiny railguns, see this one.
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    Default Re: Navy prepares to take railguns to sea

    Quote Originally Posted by Eldan View Post
    More boom and flash, but yes. I'm not even sure what's exploding in there... as far as I know they don't have any kind of propellant. Sure, the rails probably get very, very hot, but what is it that's burning?
    Speed, friction, mass and inertia.

    Note that the standard gun fires a bullet weighing several grams (a fraction of an ounce) at generally around the speed of sound (mach 1). A railgun generally fires ammo weighing several kilograms (several pounds) at speeds around 5000 mph (mach 6.5). Simply running into something with that much speed, and that much mass, causes a lot of damage. All the fire and light is what happens when you take all that kinetic energy, and try turning it into heat - basically what happens when its speed is dropped to zero from hitting a target.
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    Default Re: Navy prepares to take railguns to sea

    Much though I love my sci-fi (and SCIENCE! is a good enough reason to build something like this), what advantages does this have over traditional chemically propelled stuff?

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    Quote Originally Posted by BWR View Post
    Much though I love my sci-fi (and SCIENCE! is a good enough reason to build something like this), what advantages does this have over traditional chemically propelled stuff?
    Flatter trajectory - so less complicated aiming?
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    Quote Originally Posted by BWR View Post
    Much though I love my sci-fi (and SCIENCE! is a good enough reason to build something like this), what advantages does this have over traditional chemically propelled stuff?
    One-shotting office-building-sized Decepticons at maximum targeting range, for a start.
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    Default Re: Navy prepares to take railguns to sea

    Quote Originally Posted by Sith_Happens View Post




    One-shotting office-building-sized Decepticons at maximum targeting range, for a start.
    But couldn't a chemical missile do that too? Plus carry specialized warheads, guidance equipment and probably longer range?
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    Default Re: Navy prepares to take railguns to sea

    Quote Originally Posted by Eldan View Post
    But couldn't a chemical missile do that too? Plus carry specialized warheads, guidance equipment and probably longer range?
    They do take out that one scorpion-looking Transformer with an anti-tank round in the first movie... And then never try it again, even though Main Soldier Character specifically says into his radio "Target is vulnerable to HEAT rounds" when it works the first time.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cirrylius View Post
    That's how wizards beta test their new animals. If it survives Australia, it's a go. Which in hindsight explains a LOT about Australia.

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    Default Re: Navy prepares to take railguns to sea

    Quote Originally Posted by Eldan View Post
    But couldn't a chemical missile do that too? Plus carry specialized warheads, guidance equipment and probably longer range?
    I'm guessing the fact that railgun projectiles travel at over twice the speed of most of the fastest missiles and mover 7 times the speed of subsonic missiles mean there's not a lot of chance to dodge them, they literally hit you before you hear the gun go bang.
    Last edited by supermonkeyjoe; 2014-04-10 at 05:15 AM.

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    Default Re: Navy prepares to take railguns to sea

    I thought most projectiles you might conveivably dodge already travel at mach or better.

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    Default Re: Navy prepares to take railguns to sea

    They certainly mach a big mess.
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    Default Re: Navy prepares to take railguns to sea

    Quote Originally Posted by Eldan View Post
    Huh. I never knew Railguns produced giant fiery explosions. I always thought they'd look... I don't know. More scifi. A sonic boom, sure. But not a cloud of burning gas.
    The secondary flash looks to be whatever is used to separate the missile from its casing. The primary is probably just a combination of air and immense friction. I'm totally with you on being surprised though.

    Quote Originally Posted by erikun View Post
    Speed, friction, mass and inertia.

    Note that the standard gun fires a bullet weighing several grams (a fraction of an ounce) at generally around the speed of sound (mach 1). A railgun generally fires ammo weighing several kilograms (several pounds) at speeds around 5000 mph (mach 6.5). Simply running into something with that much speed, and that much mass, causes a lot of damage. All the fire and light is what happens when you take all that kinetic energy, and try turning it into heat - basically what happens when its speed is dropped to zero from hitting a target.
    The muzzle flash, not the impact. As the projectile leaves the barrel is is kissed goodbye by an explosion of fire. That explosion of fire is traditionally from the decompressing superheated gasses of a chemical projectile, and is part of what accelerates the missile.

    If the missile is being accelerated purely by electricity, why is there an explosion? The plasma idea sounds most accurate.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BWR View Post
    Much though I love my sci-fi (and SCIENCE! is a good enough reason to build something like this), what advantages does this have over traditional chemically propelled stuff?
    The projectile can be simpler. If you get the speed high enough, you really just need a slug of metal to do enough damage. You don't need complex warheads in that case which presumably makes it a fair bit cheaper. Also makes the ship safer without needing it to carry around a bunch of explosive chemicals for launching its weapons.

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    Default Re: Navy prepares to take railguns to sea

    Damn it

    why do weapons have to be so COOL?


    Okay. I think I have to ask the question EVERYONE is asking:

    Do you think this gun can take down Superman?

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    Default Re: Navy prepares to take railguns to sea

    Quote Originally Posted by Chen View Post
    The projectile can be simpler. If you get the speed high enough, you really just need a slug of metal to do enough damage. You don't need complex warheads in that case which presumably makes it a fair bit cheaper. Also makes the ship safer without needing it to carry around a bunch of explosive chemicals for launching its weapons.
    Mostly this I think. The round fired by that railgun costs approximately 25 000 USD, whereas a missile, while longer range (and slower), will put you back several hundred thousand at least. Plus they're smaller, and therefore easier to store, and as mentioned, don't have all that explosive stuff packed with them.
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    Default Re: Navy prepares to take railguns to sea

    Quote Originally Posted by Madcrafter View Post
    Mostly this I think. The round fired by that railgun costs approximately 25 000 USD, whereas a missile, while longer range (and slower), will put you back several hundred thousand at least. Plus they're smaller, and therefore easier to store, and as mentioned, don't have all that explosive stuff packed with them.
    Probably also harder to intercept with our most recent anti-missile interceptors.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Madcrafter View Post
    Mostly this I think. The round fired by that railgun costs approximately 25 000 USD, whereas a missile, while longer range (and slower), will put you back several hundred thousand at least. Plus they're smaller, and therefore easier to store, and as mentioned, don't have all that explosive stuff packed with them.
    The LaWS interceptor laser is also being developed for its relatively cheap ammo: the energy costs apparently add up to about 1 USD per shot, making it a really cheap anti-missile/anti-drone weapon.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cikomyr View Post
    Probably also harder to intercept with our most recent anti-missile interceptors.
    They are flat-out impossible to intecept with current technology.

    Oh, and the flames from the barrel are just the air. I'm amazed the projectile doesn't leave a flaming trail behind it for the whole journey.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frozen_Feet View Post
    They are flat-out impossible to intecept with current technology.

    Oh, and the flames from the barrel are just the air. I'm amazed the projectile doesn't leave a flaming trail behind it for the whole journey.
    Yhea my point.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eldan View Post
    But couldn't a chemical missile do that too? Plus carry specialized warheads, guidance equipment and probably longer range?
    A chemical rocket takes all those lovely electronics and blows them up. The bullets this thing fires are (IIRC) supposed to be substantially cheaper per shot. That's assuming the gun doesn't break all the time which previously had been quite a problem.

    Of course by the same token its only going to be in a ballistics curve so this thing isn't really a replacement for missiles, its a more a replacement for the 5 in gun currently deployed then the VLS that is a modern smallboy's main armament.

    Me I'm still not completely sold on this railgun CBA virture. I still smell an elephant gun.

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    The round cost $25000 because they only made a few. Once you start making more the price should drop considerably.

    The fact it is increadably hard to stop is one thing, the fact that there is already another one coming is another. The actual energy density of explosives and propellants is quite low when compared to diesel, never mind nuclear. Each of the rounds being much smaller as well means that a ship can carry far more shots. All the fuel in the ship could go towards powering the gun, and a ship would never carry that much high ordinance. Even if it did it could not be stored as easily as diesel, or used for anything else.

    The advantage over traditional chemical guns is a higher muzzle velocity. To apply pressure to a shell a conventional gun has to accelerate the gas it produces to the speed of the shell, which is limited by the speed of sound of the propellant. This gives a gun a maximal velocity. Imagine if there was no shell, and you fired a charge at the end of the barrel. The gas would accelerate to a particular speed, and if you put something in front of that gas it will not get pushed faster than the gas.
    A railgun uses magnetic flux instead of gas to drive the shell, and magnetic flux is massless, so moves at the speed of light. This permits much higher velocities, with the speed of light being the only theoretical limit.

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    Default Re: Navy prepares to take railguns to sea

    Do the RailBullet have explosive tips?

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    Quote Originally Posted by ace rooster View Post
    The fact it is increadably hard to stop is one thing, the fact that there is already another one coming is another. The actual energy density of explosives and propellants is quite low when compared to diesel, never mind nuclear. Each of the rounds being much smaller as well means that a ship can carry far more shots. All the fuel in the ship could go towards powering the gun, and a ship would never carry that much high ordinance. Even if it did it could not be stored as easily as diesel, or used for anything else.
    Yeah I get the impression you aren't very familiar with a 5" naval gun are you? First off the shells are pretty trivial in weight at a mere 70 lbs. Next they already carry some 600 rounds already in a pretty modest space commitment. That works out to some 21 tons on ships that start at over 9000 tons. Under .2% isn't anything.

    And for that sort of capacity... well you simply don't fire these kinds of weapons like a machine gun. So I think they have plenty.

    The advantage over traditional chemical guns is a higher muzzle velocity. To apply pressure to a shell a conventional gun has to accelerate the gas it produces to the speed of the shell, which is limited by the speed of sound of the propellant. This gives a gun a maximal velocity. Imagine if there was no shell, and you fired a charge at the end of the barrel. The gas would accelerate to a particular speed, and if you put something in front of that gas it will not get pushed faster than the gas.
    A railgun uses magnetic flux instead of gas to drive the shell, and magnetic flux is massless, so moves at the speed of light. This permits much higher velocities, with the speed of light being the only theoretical limit.
    Yes I knew this.

    Now apply one of the most basic rules of gun safety: Do not point your gun at anything you do not intend to shoot.

    All that speed means you have potentially huge possible ranges, I've heard claims of hundred miles. Can you be sure that everything within a cone of several degrees extended out for a hundred miles is something you intend to shoot? Because you pointed a gun at it. Once you fire a ballistic projectile Sir Issac Newton makes it his sworn duty to ruin something's day. I hope and pray intended targets are not including aircraft unless there's a compelling argument for the words "over penetration" being 120% not an issue. I also question the precision possible for whatever is going to angle this gun at the proper degree and withstand the forces involved with firing it.

    That's all almost besides the point because lets not forget that we have been busy not building the most fearsome guns possible since WWII wrapped up. Because planes and missile can be actively guided by someone other then that mad knight named Newton from any range you please.

    There's a disconnect between safety, precision, and effectiveness that I have yet to see resolved in satisfactory detail.

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    Nothing like a well aimed rock.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cikomyr View Post
    Damn it

    why do weapons have to be so COOL?


    Okay. I think I have to ask the question EVERYONE is asking:

    Do you think this gun can take down Superman?

    Naww, he’ll catch the projectile and throw it back at the same speed.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Soras Teva Gee View Post
    Yeah I get the impression you aren't very familiar with a 5" naval gun are you? First off the shells are pretty trivial in weight at a mere 70 lbs. Next they already carry some 600 rounds already in a pretty modest space commitment. That works out to some 21 tons on ships that start at over 9000 tons. Under .2% isn't anything.

    And for that sort of capacity... well you simply don't fire these kinds of weapons like a machine gun. So I think they have plenty.



    Yes I knew this.

    Now apply one of the most basic rules of gun safety: Do not point your gun at anything you do not intend to shoot.

    All that speed means you have potentially huge possible ranges, I've heard claims of hundred miles. Can you be sure that everything within a cone of several degrees extended out for a hundred miles is something you intend to shoot? Because you pointed a gun at it. Once you fire a ballistic projectile Sir Issac Newton makes it his sworn duty to ruin something's day. I hope and pray intended targets are not including aircraft unless there's a compelling argument for the words "over penetration" being 120% not an issue. I also question the precision possible for whatever is going to angle this gun at the proper degree and withstand the forces involved with firing it.

    That's all almost besides the point because lets not forget that we have been busy not building the most fearsome guns possible since WWII wrapped up. Because planes and missile can be actively guided by someone other then that mad knight named Newton from any range you please.

    There's a disconnect between safety, precision, and effectiveness that I have yet to see resolved in satisfactory detail.
    As you point out the range is huge, way beyond that of the 5 inch gun (20km). In that regard it is better compared to ship to ship missiles. To carry a charge that will relably do heavy damage to a ship over a range of hundreds of miles you need a big missile that flies efficiently. These can be and are defended against, and a cruiser will only carry about two dozen. The railgun is much harder to deal with, similarly to the 5 inch gun, and does not have to worry about wasting ammo.

    Against aircraft you will still be much better with a missile. Hitting a fast moving target with an unguided projectile is always going to be hard, no matter how fast your projectile is going. Against ships you will be aiming to hit your target with an trajectory that will be descending at the target. You are not going to miss by a long way.

    Newton is pretty reliable, and it is not like mistakes have never been made with missiles. Being committed at launch is not that much different from being committed at impact, especially if you can fire the gun 5 mins later and still strike the target at the same time. It was the range of missiles that made conventional guns obsolete, with their theoretical maximum muzzal velocity. Railguns do not have that particular limitation.

    The shell itself is very light when compared to the 5 inch gun. This means that the forces are not much higher than in that. The targeting is harder, but is not anything new. Given that it is the same company that makes the 5inch gun, I don't see these being a huge problem.

    You may not be convinced, but somebody who's job it is to ask these questions has decided it is time to try it on a ship.


    To the person who asked about explosive tips, there is little point in using explosives when the kinetic energy per gram of projectile is far beyond the chemical energy tied up in the explosive. The low density of explosives would increase the air resistance of a projectile of the same mass which would actually lower the energy released at impact.

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    Default Re: Navy prepares to take railguns to sea

    The reason rail guns make a flash like that is for the same reason space capsules make a big burning trail when they re-enter. They are punching the air so hard, so fast, it can't get out of the way fast enough, so it piles up and compressed in front, creating a tremendous amount of super hot gas, which expands as soon as it can.
    Some of it is from friction from the rails, but a lot of it is because the bullet is punching the air.
    And winning.
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