Excellent - it's BAE
Anyone want to hazard how much it's going to cost before they finally realise it doesn't work?
BAE Systems has been handed a $34.5m contract to design a new version of a potentially game-changing weapon of the future. The US Office of Naval Research gave BAE the cash to build a new railgun prototype which is capable of firing up to 10 shots a minute, while staying cool enough that it doesn't blow up like previous …
I dunno about game changing. I always preferred the wide area splash damage of the red rocket launcher in Q3A to the railgun. Always too difficult to hit the target when moving at speed - plus, you can't rocket jump with the rail gun, you just end up gib'ng yourself if you accidentally shoot your own foot...
But I haven't seen much serious naval warfare lately.
No, but there's been plenty of sabre rattling regarding the straits of Hormuz, and then there's the whole Taiwan thing, too. The US's ability to project force is heavily dependant on its carrier battlegroups, and it is clearly prepared to spend crazy money to keep that ability.
"Lol, pity it hasn't thought of the submersible carrier yet. Now there's a project that could keep the military fed for decades, even without fighting. Well, supposing we ever fix the economy (about that...)."
Has actually been tried.
In the 30 at least one sub was built with a (small) aircraft hangar. It leaked. Not a good thing in a sub.
In the 1950s at least one sub was built for (IIRC) the Regulas cruise missile, which having fixed wings needed a bit of a takeoff run to get it up to flight speed.
A true aircraft carrier sub would be obscenely expensive.
So perfect BAE project.
> In the 30 at least one sub was built with a (small) aircraft hangar.
HMS M2 was launched in 1919. She sank in 1932. It is believed that the hangar door was opened before she was fully clear of the water.
She iles in about 35m of water just off Portland. A nice dive the last time I was there...
can you actually buy it? because last i read it was only rd and wasnt used in service anywhere (usa tried to develop these but it went nowhere, even after stealing some of the russian designs :)). shkval can change course too and its been in service for decades, newer versions rumored to go 560km/h
if there was only naval warfare available, russia would be on the top with their supercavitating shkval torpedoes
Interestingly, the Iranians appear to have reverse-engineered the Shkval and made their own. No idea if it actually works, of course.
The important thing to note is that the Shkval was designed as a defensive system, and has a relatively short range... ~12km or so. That's pretty close to a carrier battlegroup that'll have a screen of antiair and antisubmarine stuff out around it to a reasonably large distance... it would be tricky to get close enough to make a kill with a Shkval without being spotted.
By comparison, the Sunburn/Moskit missile has a 120km range, and doesn't require a submarine force to launch it from.
Useful for ship to ship, but more likely to replace trying to drop bunker busters from carrier borne aircraft and ship launched cruise missiles. Very useful for taking out enemy radar and SAM installation etc. Without risking your pilots. Or costing you too much,
Faster, cheaper, no effective means to intercept (yet) etc.
Anyone know what the effective accuracy is over 200 miles? Taking into account wind etc.
Back when we recommisioned the battleships in the 1980's, they were playing around with 16" shells that consisted of an 8" warhead with rocket assist as the payload, and it was supposed to have this kind of range which is really interesting. Anyway, terminal guidance was supposed to use a laser designator in the hands of a US Navy SEAL team or from a drone, or even aircraft if you were really hard up. Basically an 8" version of a Copperhead shell. Nice to see the idea get some play again even if it'll probably cost (literally) tons of money.
Betcha they install it first on the LCS's (Littoral Combat Ships). Look real cool up on the foc's'le.
The difference is in the velocity. The projectile is moving far faster than any other canon, and so it is a kinetic weapon having no need for expensive and dangerous explosive projectiles. The projectile is travelling at least 2,300 m/s or about a mile and a half per second. This gives it a huge advantage in deployment. Time of flight for a 180 mile shot is just 2 minutes. Even the permanent air cover fighters that all carriers deploy could not possibly cover a 180 mile radius area and respond so quickly. So the rail gun is much more advantageous as a quickly deployed defensive weapon. There are already plenty of good options for offensive weapons.
"no need for expensive and dangerous explosive projectiles"
Depends what the target is. A conventional shell with proximity fuse could destroy a target that you didn't hit - this is the likely scenario given the range, however with a railgun a soft-bodied target might simply be holed and without any significant mass to deliver the kinetic energy to it would be like a rifle-bullet hitting tissue paper unless it hit something heavy or vital.
Anyone know what the likely velocity is at ~300kms ??
Straightline flight of a railgun projectile at sea-level (well it is being fired from a ship) will result in a cloud of molten metal a couple of clicks from the railgun's muzzle. The projectile is already bloody hot from the millions of amps passed through it as it accelerates between the rails, the air friction from travelling at Mach 7 would finish the job. Even if by some miracle it did survive it would lose a lot of its velocity due to the aforementioned air friction so it would still take a lot more than 2 minutes to go 200 kilometres.
The battleship solution is to fire a shell from a gun in a high parabolic arc so most of its trajectory is in thin air and it will retain most of its initial speed and not melt or overheat on the way. That takes even longer to get to target, of course; a 15" shell from a British WWII battleship could take 90 seconds to cover 30 kilometres with a muzzle velocity of about 750 m/s, just over Mach 2. Firing railgun projectiles in the same high ballistic arc would double or triple their time-to-target.
Like battleship shells railgun projectiles don't have terminal guidance so with wind drift, irregularities in the firing system etc. the circular error at the target 200 km away would probably be a few hundred metres. If the target is a vehicle like a tank it may not even be in the same country when the projectile arrives. If the aim is to hit a stationary building or structure then it's rare that it has to be destroyed right now and a Tomahawk or two will do the job nicely -- see the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade in the recent past to show just how precise that sort of targetting can be done.
Railguns might, just might be useful for close-in defence of major warships, able to hit to a line-of-sight threat before it comes in too close but scaling them down to something the size of a Phalanx is not going to be easy.
"I'm not so naive to believe naval warfare (more than deploying aircraft to remote places) is only a thing of the past. But I haven't seen much serious naval warfare lately."
You've seen plenty of naval warfare lately, think bombardment of Libya, the pounding of Baghdad amongst others. Even land-locked Afghanistan was hit from the sea directly back in 2001.
The whole dreadnaught thing is nonsense of course - the more armor you put in front of one of these the bigger the internal shockwave and spalling.
against a clapped out old fishing boat, with a bust engine,packed with refugees (including lots of children), wallowing in the swell and drifting in towards the side of the new dreadnought?
Oh, did I mention the hold full of explosives...?
Ah, the joys of asymetric warfare
Doesn't the US Government have enough ways of killing people yet?
"with refugees (including lots of children)"
Fire off with a Think-Of-The-Children argument immediately. Yes, that really makes you out as a critical thinking who doesn't bleet along with the rest of the groupthink herd. Not.
"Doesn't the US Government have enough ways of killing people yet?"
I'm pretty sure quite a number of idiots with zero foresight have said pretty much the same throughout history when someone invented the sword (whats wrong with a rock?) or gunpowder (whats wrong with a sword?) or the air force (whats wrong with the navy?). Congrats on joining such an august line of fools.
Did we mention the skiffs and other small boats that come standard on most Navy warships, including carriers? After the Cole incident, SOP is to inspect ANY watercraft coming within a radius. Your bomb boat would be spotted from a distance and approached by small craft long before it got close.
I would imagine not - weapons tend to be designed in a modular fashion both for maintenance and the ability to retro-fit. The lifespan of a vessel (multi-decade) is much greater than the lifespan of its individual systems.
I therefore suspect that any design will have to be pretty self contained and not require extensive modifications to the platform its mounted on.
very few weapon systems are designed on the basis that you build the platform around them - the only one I can think of easily is ICBM nuke submarines.
Plus, I doubt you'd want to be using your hull as a heat sink (lovely big IR signature against a cold background)
The F-14 wasn't designed around the AIM-54, although it was designed to use them (as the F-111B was). It was designed as a long-range fighter to be able to intercept Russian bombers well before they could fire their weapons against the carrier group - that's why it needed a powerful radar, a lot of fuel, and long range missiles.
Anyway, in combat it uses more AIM-7 and AIM-9 missiles than AIM-54s, which are not the best weapon to down other fighters.
The Tomcat and F111-B were designed around the AWG-9 radar set, which worked with the AIM-54.
Beautiful plane, the F14. I vaguely remember hearing that the AIM-54 was a bit of a turkey though - and the only recorded kill of an adversary was by an Iranian airframe, not the USN. No idea how accurate that is though. No doubt that's classified. Or I just made it up.
Also, I believe most of the paints etc. they use to protect the hull from the corrosive effects of the sea also have the effect of being insulators instead of conductors. Not enough to matter for typical running conditions, but when you are trying to dump massive amounts of heat not the sort of thing you want between you and the big dump.
The sea is somewhat useful as a heatsink, but the problem is the timescales the heat is generated over - the heat of a railgun firing is generated in milliseconds, mostly in the rails themselves. The problem is keeping the rails from vaporizing, melting, or even just deforming before you can get the heat out of them into something else.
And the temperatures are much higher than the temperatures of burning gunpowder.
very few weapon systems are designed on the basis that you build the platform around them - the only one I can think of easily is ICBM nuke submarines.
Aircraft carriers, perhaps? Old-school big gun battleships certainly were, and anything with railguns as its primary armament will be reaching back to that era.
I did consider air craft carriers - but what they have is a certain flight deck size and arrestor wire setup. Aircraft are then designed to fit these parameters so in reality these become a modular weapon.
The A10 and tanks are good examples - but they are much smaller units, the service life of the unit will principally be the service life of their main weapon.
I accept that the navy *could* build warships designed entirely around railgun technology, I just dont think they will. If you consider it from their perspective would you like a system that requires you to build a new fleet or one that you can selectively refit your existing fleet over a decade? Which option has lower risk, capital cost, lead time, etc... and which provides the greatest projection of power at the earliest window.
I would expect early rail guns to be a modular unit that replaces a current turret mount - once they've been in service for a while (10+ years) I can imagine someone saying why not scale this up for the next major battleship (presumably nuke powered). But this wont be the way that they are intially deployed.
@Petalium - It is the current moving through the conductive projectile (or possibly a sabot or armature holding a projectile) that generates the Lorentz force that it propels along the rails, and that it why contact is necessary. A coilgun does not need contact with a magnetic projectile to accelerate it, but they have other limitations and would likely need much longer barrels to obtain the performance that has been demonstrated by rail guns.
You forget our Navy, except in time of actual combat, is now run by Greenpeace.
They can't even engage in live fire training if there's a chance a dolphin or seal will die. And don't even ask about what the civy test teams are going to have to do with sequestration now in effect. They're only allowed to work four 8 hour shifts per week even if they're the only guy available to run the data station during that 12 hour period.
Mach 7 is too slow. And faster methods were thought of a Long Time Ago. <http://www.the-whiteboard.com/autowb026.html>. Note the time and date stamp on that strip...
And, as for frozen pizza... the likes of _you_ are why railguns were invented.
<exit, stage left, mumbling about whether it would be better to shoot those who advocate frozen pizza with a railgun, or just to shoot them out of a railgun.>
I think Robert Heinlein also mentions chucking rocks down a gravity well, anyway quite a useful weapon if you can scrounge all the space junk floating around up there and deliver it to your favourite enemy instead of expensively sending up rocks from down here to then throw back down.
Thinking about it; as this is an over the horizon ballistic shell or bomb or what have you it should be smart even at mach 7 it's handy to know exactly where you are going and to have the means to steer a bit so as to get there.
Newton might have something to say... Throw a magnetic rock (whatever that is) out of a railgun in orbit and you just changed the orbit of the railgun. Now use chemical rockets to put it back in position (or ion thruster at best) and what did you really gain? Might has well have stuck the rocket motor on the rock in the first place!
Also, rocks would need balancing precisely, machining to fit the rail gun and covering in something conductive. Again, might as well just stick a rocket motor on the rock, it's easier.
Newton might have something to say... Throw a magnetic rock (whatever that is) out of a railgun in orbit and you just changed the orbit of the railgun.
Split rock in half. Fire one half towards the target, fire the other half in the opposite direction. Where is the railgun now? Action, reaction.
Hmm, probably not in the next 10 to 20 years.
Power generation - can enough juice be generated?
Heat dissipation - melting important bits of your satellite weapon would be embarrassing.
Political Reaction - the rest of the world (Russia, China and these days, the EU) would be super p*ssed...
Hang on, the US has a long-standing tradition of not caring much about that stuff so yeah, they'll probably do it...
Why not? It worked in Formula 1 with all this KERS bollocks - I'm just amazed they didn't make them drive over some kind of 'superturbopower' icon painted on the track. What used to be a steering wheel now looks more like a dual shock controller - the playstation generation is established and inflicting their ideas on us right now!
Kind of the point, fire at them while you are still out of sight. Using spotters to identify the targets (Spy sats, aircraft, drones, grunts on the ground etc.). Just like an arti barrage.
Bear in mind these are ballistic, so you'll be aiming the gun above the horizon, not through it.direct at the target.
It might be going quickly, but it's still not going to beat the pull of good ol gravity.
"At Mach 7, the rotation of the earth would not be much more than what they already need to take into account while firing normal shells… That is two minutes and a half."
I've been made aware that Snipers sometimes have to account for rotation of the earth when making shots of over a couple klicks. I believe this comes most into play when the gun is being fired ACROSS the rotation (meaning to the north or south) since the target in this case will move laterally just a smidge.
It's not the speed of the projectile that affects this but time of flight. Those sniper bullets I mentioned would be in the are for a noticeable fraction of a second. It will have a greater influence on a projectile with a two-minute time of flight (and this time, even shots with or against rotation—to the east or west, respectively—need to account for this)
Typical sniper bullets like the .338 Lapua Magnum have a muzzle velocity of about 880 m/s so a bullet travelling over a distance of 2km will take over three seconds to reach its target allowing air resistance -- by the time the bullet has gone 300 metres it's already lost 130m/s according to the ballistics charts I've read.
Modern warship never used straight-line firing like tanks usually do. Most engagements in WWII happened at several miles distance which requires a non straight line firing, and projectiles too needed to be designed not to break when they hit targets at different angles (penetra . German long range cannons could hit target well beyond the horizon. Sure, you have to take into account winds, air density (which also changes with altitude...), target speed and direction, etc. etc. Battleship had analog computers to perform this kind of computations.
Why ENIAC was built? To compute firing tables... before missiles becomes the main weapons.
Anyway today there are also guided projectiles, that can adjust their trajectory while flying, like guided bombs do.
a platform being pushed along by ring magnets would`nt cause a gun to explode, the youtube videos of the US navy railgun shows all the plasma coming out of the barrel in slow motion
plasma drop in temperature soon after the core of the burst, as its not proper fire or something along the lines
having a inner barrel to mount the platform and magnets with plenty of vents, would give the plasma that little bit of time to cool, and have the real cooling system inside of the outter barrel
toughened graphite is used on most expensive things instead of metal because its man made and does what its made to do
OMG it's Elliot Carvers "yacht" from Tomorrow Never Dies."
14Knots, invisible on radar and with lots of interior cargo space. What's not to like?
Psychotic blonde henchman not included.
In amongst the ablative gun destroying stuff an ablative gun destroying projectile with the external aerodynamics of something that might be an an ablative gun destroying projectile internal to the gun...
Just a moment!!1!!
"BAE Systems has been handed a $34.5m contract to design a new version of a potentially game-changing weapon of the future."
That's a tenth of what Phorm, including lying bastard Kent, has pissed away to date.... notwithstanding someone else having to scrub the piss off the walls and the opportunity to Boff, old crusty, Girlies up to the top of Everest.
Rah Rah Rah. Jolly HockeySticks.
Gosh... Really helped the niggers out with that one.
Yes!! The locals do do some nice stuff. Food wise.
I'm orf to ride my Horse.
Well done. Tra Lah Lah.
I know small scale is possible "seen plans to make one for $100 online" so wouldn't it be a problem is a very large electro-magnetic pulse was release at the barrel while it was firing causing the mass being fired to jump and make the barrel explode.
I can't see this being used for anything but very long range targets for that reason.
Use 10 set of rails. Each rail set firing once a minute. Would give the cooling system a chance to work. if they could get enough juice they could even do salvo firing. Better chance of hitting something if you fire a salvo at it.
Plus there is the "My willy is bigger than your willy" boasting factor
I seriously doubt that.
Building a railgun equipped humungo-battleship is all well and good, but has a slight snag. One good shot from someone else's railgun and that's a lot of investment down the tubes. Armour has a way to go here.
I'd have though that small, fast and cheap ships with railguns would be the way to go. All the railgun punch, none of the irrelevant armour, speed makes them more difficult to hit at long ranges and the low cost/simplicity makes them simple and quick to replace.
You have to remember why Dreadnoughts went the way of the Dodo in the first place. It was nothing to do with any limitations in the armament, it was because all it took to ruin one's day was a dive bomber in the wrong place at the wrong time.
There's also the matter of recoil (railguns DO NOT make any attempt at bypassing Newtonian physics). Like it or not, you're going to need some mass to absorb all that kick or a broadside shot is going to seriously list (if not capsize) the platform on which it's mounted.
There's some impressive engineering going on somewhere behind the scences
Be interesting to know the launcher type and material choices. i.e. is it a railgun with a solid armature or a plasma armature, or is it a coilgun? All of them have their drawbacks, and I'll be impressed if you can get anything like the number of shots prior to barrel failure that you can with conventional big guns.
10 shots per minute probably means several barrels, to avoid overheating problems. It also means that someone thinks they've made a reliable pulsed power source, capable of taking on perhaps 10MJ or so of energy and releasing it again in the appropriate timescales.
"Delve special". Series 2, episode 1: A rocket for defence.
or for the more visual amongst you
"This is David Lander". Series 1, episode 5: The rocketing cost of defence.
Both as true today as they ever were. Truer, even.
Trouble with parody these days is that it's difficult make fiction more absurd than the reality it is mocking.
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