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  • Electric Shot -- Navy Fires Prototype Railgun
    Posted by Graham Warwick 4:27 PM on Feb 28, 2012

    The U.S. Navy has begun firing the first of two prototype electromagnetic railgun launchers as it moves a step closer to deploying the long-range, high-speed weapon on its warships.

    blog post photo
    Photos and video: Office of Naval Research

    The lower-energy firings at the Naval Surface Warfare Div. in
    Dahlgren, Va., begin a month-long series of tests to evaluate an "advanced containment launcher" (ACL) prototype built by BAE Systems. A second prototype ACL, built by General Atomics, is scheduled for delivery to Dahlgren in April.

    blog post photo

    The Office of Naval Research (ONR) will fire the railguns at muzzle energies of 20 and 32 megajoules, enough to launch a projectile 50-100 nm. ONR set a record in December 2010 when it conducted a 33MJ shot of a laboratory railgun at Dahlgren. The prototype ACL is connected to the same pulsed-power system used for that test.

    The full-energy tests will evaluate the barrel life and structural integrity of the 32-ft.-long ACL prototypes, which have wound-composite barrels designed to withstand the enormous forces on the rails while being lighter and more tactically representative than the steel barrel of the laboratory railgun.

    The Navy, meanwhile, is moving ahead with development of thermal-management and pulsed-power systems enabling firing rates of up to 10 rounds a minute, to be demonstrated in 2017. BAE and General Atomics have contracts to begin the concept design of a thermally managed launcher, while both companies and Raytheon are working on pulsed-power systems.

    Tags: ar99, ONR

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