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The Navy's top officer just admitted the much-hyped electromagnetic railgun is a big mess
Less than a year after declaring the U.S. Navy "fully invested" in the service's much-hyped electromagnetic railgun, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson is apparently experiencing some buyer's remorse over the $500 million supergun's troubled development.
Appearing before an audience at the Atlantic Council on Thursday, Richardson characterized the decade-old weapons system — capable of accelerating a projectile to hypersonic speeds but stuck in research and development limbo without a ship-board tactical demonstrator — as "the case study that would say, 'This is how innovation maybe shouldn't happen.'"
"We've learned a lot [from the project] and the engineering of building something like that that can handle that much electromagnetic energy and not just explode is challenging," Richardson said, per Business Insider. "So, we're going to continue after this — we're going to install this thing, we're going to continue to develop it, test it."
"It's too great a weapon system, so it's going somewhere, hopefully," he added.
Translation: Whatever, man.
A prototype of the Navy's electromagnetic railgun(DoD photo)
That's quite an about face from the confidence Richardson exuded during a congressional hearing back in March 2018, months after Task & Purpose reported in December 2017 that the advanced system would likely never make it out of the R&D stage due to both the engineering challenges of actually mounting the thing on a Navy vessel and, more importantly, changing priorities within the Pentagon's Strategic Capabilities Office.
"[We are] fully invested in railgun; we continue to test it," Richardson assured lawmakers at the time, per Military.com. "We've demonstrated it at lower firing rates and ... shorter ranges. Now we have to do the engineering to, sort of, crank it up and get it at the designated firing rates, at the 80- to 100-mile range."
Task & Purpose had previously reported that SCO was shifting its focus towards the hypervelocity projectile (HVP), specialized shells originally developed as the primary ammunition for the railgun that are just as effective when fired from conventional artillery. Indeed, the Navy test fired the HVP from the USS Dewey's Mk 45 five-inch deck guns during the 2018 Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) in August of that year.
Richardson affirmed that shift in priorities on Thursday. "The high-velocity projectile is also usable in just about every gun we have. It can be out in the fleet very, very quickly independent of the railgun," he said. "So, this effort is breeding all sorts of advances. We just need to get the clock sped up with respect to the railgun."
A year ago, Richardson attempted to assure lawmakers that, as Military.com put it, "death of the program was greatly exaggerated."
So I'm just going to leave this here:
Suck it, jerks
The U.S. military will build 'facilities' to house at least 7,500 adult migrants, the Pentagon announced on Wednesday.
Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan has approved a request from the Department of Homeland Security to construct the facilities, said Pentagon spokesman Army Maj. Chris Mitchell.
Defense officials will brief President Donald Trump's national security team on a plan that involves sending 5,000 more troops to the Middle East to deter Iran, Task & Purpose has learned.
So far, no decisions have been made about whether to send the reinforcements to the region, unnamed U.S. officials told CNN's Barbara Starr.
"The military capabilities being discussed include sending additional ballistic missile defense systems, Tomahawk cruise missiles on submarines, and surface ships with land attack capabilities for striking at a long range," CNN reports. "Specific weapons systems and units have not been identified."
The Navy warship forged from World Trade Center steel has returned to New York for the first time in years
The thousands of sailors, Coasties and Marines who descend on New York City every year for Fleet Week are an awesome sight to behold on their own, but this year's confab of U.S. service members includes a uniquely powerful homecoming as well.
When an Air Force major called J.J. completed a solo flight in the U-2 in late August 2016 — 60 years after the high-flying aircraft was introduced — he became the 1,000th pilot to do so.
J.J., whose name was withheld by the U.S. Air Force for security reasons, earned his solo patch a few days after pilots No. 998 and No. 999. Those three pilots are in distinguished company, two fellow pilots said this month.
"We have a pretty small, elite team of folks. We're between about 60 and 70 active-duty pilots at any given time," Maj. Matt "Top" Nauman said during an Air Force event at the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum in New York City.
"We're about 1,050 [pilots] right now. So to put that in context, there are more people with Super Bowl rings than there are people with U-2 patches," Nauman added. "It's a pretty small group of people that we've hired over the last 60 to 65 years."
In what appear to be his first public remarks on U.S. national security since his resignation as Secretary of Defense, retired Marine Gen. James Mattis offered a word of caution to President Donald Trump amid escalating tensions with Iran on Tuesday.
"The United States should buy time to keep peace and stability and allow diplomats to work diplomacy on how to keep peace for one more hour, one more day, one more week, a month or a year," Mattis said during remarks in the United Arab Emirates.
"Iran's behavior must change," Mattis added, "[but] the military must work to buy time for diplomats to work their magic."