Acknowledgements to the Office of Naval Research
The Office of Naval Research (ONR) has come up with some pretty amazing things. They’re chartered with producing game-changing and disruptive technologies ahead of the normal requirements process. Previously it was laser weaponry. Now they’re gearing up for at-sea prototype testing of an electromagnetic railgun. Click here to watch a video on this technology.
Railguns are long-range weapons that fire projectiles using electricity instead of chemical propellants. These projectiles far exceed conventionally delivered munitions in range and destructive force. They can travel over 100 nautical miles at speeds of over Mach 6. The absence of explosive propellants or warheads to store and handle, as well as the low cost of projectiles compared to conventional weaponry (pennies on the dollar compared to smart bombs and missiles) come as additional advantages.
At this point in development, these bad boys are big, heavy and need a lot of electric power for launch. These requirements have caused designers to target Zumwalt-class destroyers. There’s even a discussion going on about skipping prototype testing and installing one on the USS Lyndon B. Johnson, currently under construction at Bath Shipyards.
The railgun can be a true warfighting game changer. Wide-area coverage, exceptionally quick response and very deep magazines will extend the reach and lethality of our ships armed with this technology. I can’t wait to see what’s next from the ONR!