The largest arms concern BAE Systems is going to conduct in 2016 the first sea firing from an electromagnetic rail gun, which in the future will be able to send projectiles at a distance of up to 400 kilometers. It is reported that the tests of the new gun should take place aboard the newest high-speed ship JHSV Millinocket. The multipurpose high-speed amphibious assault ship-catamaran will be the third in a series of 10 JHSV ships of the Spearhead type ("Edge of the Wedge"), which are intended for the US Navy Shipping Command. At the same time, the tests themselves on board the ship will not be the only new milestone in the development of new weapons. The creators of the rail gun are planning to equip ordinary powder cannons with hypersonic projectiles, which will significantly increase their capabilities to combat a wide variety of targets, primarily air ones.
Currently, most warships in the world are armed with automatic cannons of 100-155 mm caliber, which have insufficient range and accuracy in the realities of modern combat. In this regard, the main range of targets modern warships hit with missile weapons, which are very expensive and have large dimensions. To solve this problem, the US Navy expects to equip its fleet with a rail gun by 2025, which will be able to hit almost any target at long ranges and, importantly, inexpensive ammunition. Currently, BAE Systems and General Atomics are working on the creation of an electromagnetic rail gun. Tests of the first samples have already taken place, and next year the shots are planned to be fired from the deck of a warship.
The US Navy has officially announced its plans to install the most powerful electromagnetic rail gun aboard the warship in 2016. Prior to that, such a gun, like the new laser turret, was tested only on land. According to Rear Admiral of the US Navy Research Unit Matthew Clander, over the next two years, the electromagnetic weapon is expected to be deployed on the Millinocket high-speed amphibious assault ship-catamaran. So such weapons from the category of science fiction are increasingly turning into reality. Look at these guns - they shoot, the rear admiral told Reuters.
As noted by Reuters, the US government fears competition from other naval powers. For example, back in 2012, information appeared that the PRC was working on the creation of new anti-ship ballistic missiles. It is reported that the new rail gun being developed in America will have to cope with this threat. If the tests in 2016 pass successfully, the US Navy will be able to strengthen its military power. Matthew Klunder believes that the railgun can be a very effective deterrent and effective weapon against any aerial threat, so US adversaries will have to think carefully before showing aggression.
An equally important factor is the availability of an electromagnetic gun in terms of price. Of course, this type of weapon will cost the US Navy even more expensive than new combat lasers, one shot of which is estimated at a ridiculous few dollars, but it will be significantly cheaper than missiles, which can cost up to 1.5 million dollars. According to Reuters, the rail-rotor shell will cost about $ 25,000. At the same time, despite the emerging advantages, a number of issues still remain unresolved. For example, an electromagnetic weapon can be susceptible to overheating. The US Navy is going to work on this problem by looking for effective methods and cooling systems. But even if the problem can be successfully solved, there is no need to wait for the early introduction of new weapons into the armament of warships in the near future, experts say.
The railgun is a special type of weapon in which electromagnetic energy is the basis for the acceleration of the projectile. In the barrel of the gun, the projectile accelerates, moving along two contact rails, gradually increasing the speed of movement. Specialists who are working on the creation of this type of weapon expect in the future to achieve a projectile speed of 9000 km / h. It is worth noting that the railgun shell is a blank that does not contain explosives. The defeat of the target occurs due to a kinetic explosion upon impact - the transition of kinetic energy into thermal energy.
So far, the developers expect that the rail guns installed on the ship will be able to fire projectiles at a speed of 5M at a distance of up to 400 kilometers. According to the ideas of the American military, the new weapon will be able to hit any target. It is planned to use cores without a fuse to destroy particularly durable objects, and canister shells for ballistic missiles. Thus, the rail gun should become a truly versatile weapon, which in most cases will be able to replace anti-ship and anti-aircraft missiles, as well as to some extent provide fire support for the landing. According to the information available in the public domain, during the tests it was found that at a distance of 180 miles, a kinetic projectile is able to penetrate a steel barrier 75 mm thick.
According to the report of the Department for the Development of Marine Systems of the US Navy NAVSEA, the capabilities of the developed rail gun are planned to be partially implemented in ordinary powder guns. We are talking about plans to develop a hypersonic projectile HVP, designed for the two main American calibers in the Navy - 127 mm and 155 mm. Thus, one universal core will be created for two types of powder guns and a railgun. Naturally, when fired from a powder cannon, the HVP flight speed will be less than when fired from a railgun (about 3M instead of 5M), but it will still be twice as high as when using conventional shells.
It is reported that the created HVP projectile should become an alternative to anti-aircraft missiles and 155-mm LRLAP projectiles worth 400 thousand dollars apiece for the latest Zumwalt-class destroyers. It is reported that the HVP will have a common core. Only containers for barrels of different calibers will differ. At the same time, the tests of the new projectile are still only in their initial phase. Their main feature should be an increased range and accuracy of fire, which will allow them to shoot down anti-ship missiles and aircraft without using missiles, as well as hit surface and ground targets at a great distance. It is possible that such shells will eventually be used in artillery on land.
The HVP core will be common for projectiles of different calibers. From top to bottom: 127 mm round, 155 mm round, railgun round
Information that the US military is going to conduct sea tests of the railgun appeared back in December 2013. In September of the same year, BAE Systems received a contract from the US Navy for the second phase of the project. This phase involved the development of a relatively compact weapon. In this case, the railgun had to have a significant barrel resource. The prototype was supposed to be manufactured and tested in 2014. For this second phase of work on the project, the US Navy allocated $ 34.5 million. At the same time, the already created railguns, which were not optimized for use at sea, ensured the flight of a kinetic projectile at a speed of 7200-9000 km / h (6, 2-7, 8 Mach numbers). At the same time, the firing range exceeded 200 kilometers. And the barrel resource even then exceeded one thousand shots.
According to Admiral Greenert, the price of one round of a railgun was $ 25,000. This amount, in addition to the direct cost of the projectile, included the wear of the rails, as well as energy costs. For comparison, the admiral cited the cost of one shot of a tactical cruise missile, the price of which could exceed a million dollars. At the same time, according to the admiral, the firing range of such cruise missiles could be shorter. Basically, in 2014, BAE Systems engineers worked on research in the field of the limiting resource of the railgun barrel, after which it would have to be replaced. At the same time, they worked to create new materials that could withstand very strong energy loads for a long time.