The United States is currently working on several promising projects in the field of the so-called. rail guns. One such product, known as the EMRG, has recently been tested again. Their results already make it possible to think about the imminent transfer of the weapon to a real carrier ship in order to test it in conditions as close as possible to real ones.
The Office of Naval Research of the US Navy and a number of related enterprises spent the first months of this year preparing for the next tests of promising weapons. At one of the sites of the Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC), a prototype EMRG gun was deployed.
The product was transported from another landfill, where its design had been worked out earlier. "Moving" was associated with the need for a new stage of testing. In the near future, it is planned to check the characteristics of the firing range. Due to the large estimated firing range, the prototype of the EMRG rail gun needs a range of appropriate dimensions. As recently clarified by the representatives of the Navy, the installation of the installation with the weapon on the new site was not easy and required considerable effort.
The tests started on May 15th. The purpose of the first firing was to test the performance of the newly assembled installation. It was required to check its strength, to test the energy systems and the weapon itself. According to the original plans, the trials with four shots were to take three days. However, the absence of breakdowns and significant difficulties made it possible to cope in two.
The EMRG fired four rounds. The installation generally performed well. No corrections or improvements were needed based on the results of the check. Thanks to this, the promising sample can continue testing according to the approved program. In the near future, he will have to confirm the calculated characteristics of range and accuracy - for which he was transferred to the current site.
The EMRG rail gun project is being developed in the interests of the US Navy and with an eye to the distant future. On the basis of this product or using the technologies used, it is planned to create a promising artillery system for surface warships.
However, the Navy has not yet specified when the rail gun will be transferred from the ground stand to the experimental vessel. The existence of such plans has been mentioned over the past several years, but their implementation has not yet begun. Moreover, the fleet is in no hurry to name even the approximate dates for such work. So far, we can only assume that the current tests for range and accuracy in the future will make it possible to move on to the next stages of the program.
Also, the question of the future carrier of EMRG remains open. The rail cannon makes special demands on the ship's energy systems, which limits the range of their carriers. For some time, it was mentioned that the rail gun for the US Navy would be mounted on Zumwalt-class destroyers. These ships were originally designed taking into account the use of systems and weapons with special energy requirements. USS Lyndon B. Johnson (DDG-1002) may become the first carrier of EMRG. However, further construction of such destroyers is not planned, which raises certain questions.
Involvement of ships or vessels of other types in testing is a certain difficulty. Before installing the rail gun, they may need a major structural modernization, as well as the restructuring of power systems. Such work will have a significant impact on both the duration of the program and its cost.
The development of the EMRG gun is carried out with the aim of further developing naval weapons and replacing existing artillery systems. Ship guns with a caliber of 155 mm are capable of attacking targets at ranges of tens of kilometers; rockets work at great distances. Promising rail cannons are considered to be capable of firing farther than traditional weapons and cheaper to operate than missiles. However, to achieve these benefits, it still requires the completion of an extensive development and testing program.
According to current plans, in the distant future, some US Navy ships will have rail guns with ammunition from modern shells. A promising ammunition HVP (Hyper Velocity Projectile) is currently being developed. When launched from an EMRG or a similar weapon, it will be able to develop hypersonic speed, which will ensure firing at a range of 100 miles. Modern cannons of traditional design have already been able to send HVPs 45-50 miles.
The EMRG gun and the HVP projectile have already been tested together and confirmed the fundamental possibility of obtaining the desired characteristics. However, the further development of such a complex and its prospects in the context of the rearmament of the Navy directly depend on the ongoing work at the NSWC test site.
It is expected that after the completion of the current programs, surface ships of compatible types will be able to receive modern and highly effective artillery weapons based on new principles. With the help of conventional and hypersonic projectiles, rail guns will be able to attack targets at distances of hundreds of kilometers and accurately hit them. Destruction will be provided by both the warhead of the projectile and its kinetic energy. In some cases, ships will be able, as before, to use powder artillery or rockets.
The plans of the American naval forces regarding rail guns look very daring and may disturb a potential adversary. However, they are still far from complete implementation. The naval project EMRG, despite recent successes, is still not ready to ensure the rearmament of surface ships. Besides, there are difficulties of a different kind.
First of all, rearmament remains a matter of the future due to the need to continue work on the rail gun itself. Just a few weeks ago, it was deployed on a new site, which allows for tests with firing at maximum range. At the same time, information about such firing has not yet been received. At the moment, it is impossible to say with certainty how long they will last and how they will end.
The US Navy needs to tackle the tricky issue of a pilot ship to test the EMRG at sea. In the future, similar problems will appear, but on a different scale. The mass introduction of rail guns is impossible without appropriate carriers. To do this, you will have to carry out a rather complex modernization of existing ships or develop completely new projects that initially take into account the special requirements for energy.
Finally, the EMRG project can fall prey to politicians. Programs for the creation of rail guns have been going on for many years, but no such sample has yet been brought to service in the army. Expensive and lengthy work without a visible practical result naturally becomes a reason for criticism. It is quite possible that in the near future there will again be calls to abandon the EMRG program due to its high cost and inefficiency.
Nevertheless, the developers of the project and related structures of the US Navy remain optimistic and continue to work. They recently began a new stage of the program, the implementation of which will bring closer the moment of creating a full-fledged combat system for ships.
At the current stage, the developers of the EMRG gun can only boast of successful firing to confirm the operability of the newly mounted installation. However, a new stage of test firing is expected in the near future, during which it is planned to reach maximum performance. The US Navy is optimistic about the future, although it understands the complexity of the work ahead.