The U.S. Navy quietly test-fired 20 supersonic projectiles originally intended for the service's futuristic electromagnetic railgun from the conventional deck guns during an international military exercise at sea last summer, according to a new report from the U.S. Naval Institute, signaling a potentially significant boost in the Navy's surface warfare capabilities amid challenges from competitors like China.
The Navy will continue to fund research and development efforts related to the service’s much-hyped electromagnetic railgun but will likely not pursue a shipboard tactical demonstrator, according to sources briefed on the matter, a development that will likely condemn the more than $500 million project to a R&D; limbo as the Department of Defense focuses on other directed energy programs.
The Navy’s futuristic electromagnetic railgun may be dead in the water, but other countries appear to be plowing ahead with their own research. New photos circulating purportedly show a Chinese navy landing ship with the distinct housing of an electromagnetic railgun mounted on its bow.
The Department of Defense is preparing to test-fire a next-generation hypervelocity projectile (HVP) — a supersonic shell that can hit targets up to 100 nautical miles away at speeds approaching Mach 6 — in the next year, defense officials announced on Jan. 25, a development that could significantly augment that Pentagon’s existing missile defense systems.
As part of its proposed $171.5 billion fiscal year 2018 budget request, the Navy carved out a hefty $2 billion for a suite of futuristic weapons systems ripped straight from the pages of a science-fiction flick. And a good part of that cash is going toward the service’s much-touted electromagnetic railgun: According to a new report from the Congressional Research Service, the service is on track to equip guided-missile destroyers and cruisers with the fancy launcher within the next 10 years. But despite this progress, it appears that the next-generation cannon won’t immediately see combat the way the Navy originally planned.