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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
Once again, the United States and the Taliban are apparently close to striking a peace deal. Such a peace agreement has been rumored to be in the works longer than the latest "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure" sequel. (The difference is Keanu Reeves has fewer f**ks to give than U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad.)
Both sides appeared to be close to reaching an agreement in September until the Taliban took credit for an attack that killed Army Sgt. 1st Class Elis A. Barreto Ortiz, of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division. That prompted President Donald Trump to angrily cancel a planned summit with the Taliban that had been scheduled to take place at Camp David, Maryland, on Sept. 8.
Now Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen has told a Pakistani newspaper that he is "optimistic" that the Taliban could reach an agreement with U.S. negotiators by the end of January.
75 years ago, Audie Murphy earned his Medal of Honor with nothing but a burning tank destroyer's .50 cal and insane bravery
Editor's note: a version of this post first appeared in 2018
On January 26, 1945, the most decorated U.S. service member of World War II earned his legacy in a fiery fashion.
Florida senators are pushing for Purple Hearts for service members wounded in the NAS Pensacola shooting
Florida's two senators are pushing the Defense Department to award Purple Hearts to the U.S. service members wounded in the December shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola.
The Navy Department is in the middle of a new force-structure review, which could change the number and types of ships the sea services say they'll need to fight future conflicts. But instead of trying to project what they will need three decades out, which has been the case in past assessments, acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly said the services will take a shorter view.
"I don't know what the threat's going to be 30 years from now, but if we're building a force structure for 30 years from now, I would suggest we're probably not building the right one," he said Friday at a National Defense Industrial Association event.
The Navy completed its last force-structure assessment in 2016. That 30-year plan called for a 355-ship fleet.
NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — The police officer killed during a traffic stop in Newport News on Thursday night was a well-liked young officer who just graduated from the police academy seven months ago, Police Chief Steve Drew said at a somber news conference Friday.