The Navy's electromagnetic railgun is undergoing 'shakedown' tests at the White Sands Missile Range

Military Tech
Electromagnetic Railgun Fires Multi-Shot Salvos

The Navy's electromagnetic railgun is undergoing what officials described as "essentially a shakedown" of critical systems before finally installing a tactical demonstrator aboard a surface warship, the latest sign that the once-beleaguered supergun may actually end up seeing combat.

That pretty much means this is could be the last set of tests before actually slapping this bad boy onto a warship, for once.


Personnel at the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Port Hueneme Division's (NSWC PHD) White Sands Missile Range (WSMR) Detachment began testing of the railgun's power system and universal mount, two essential components that in recent years have stymied efforts to produce a ship-board tactical demonstrator for the the $500 million supergun.

"The installation of the railgun began earlier this year and required a large effort for the mount, gun, power controls, displays and functional ties into the range," site manager John Winstead said in a statement. "The object of the test was essentially a shakedown of the newly-installed mount with accompanying power containers, controls and a fully functional execution team."

The Office of Naval Research (ONR)-sponsored Electromagnetic Railgun (EMRG) at terminal range located at Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD) in January 2017. (U.S. Navy/John F. Williams)

The only test publicly announced by the Navy took place on May 15, when WSMR engineers and technicians fired off four rounds "with full diagnostics and verification," according to the Navy statement: "The tests were very successful and alleviated the need to have further installation and check-out testing required for verification."

The Navy's quiet announcement of the "shakedown" tests came amid news that the Office of Naval Research was inching towards actually mounting the railgun on a warship, suggesting that Navy engineers have finally managed to solve the issues of both a universal mounting system for surface vessels and the "pulsed-power architecture" required for multi-shot salvos.

In May, the Navy revealed in the latest edition of its Northwest Training and Testing draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Assessment (NWTT EIS/OEIS) that "the kinetic energy weapon (commonly referred to as the rail gun) will be tested aboard surface vessels, firing explosive and non-explosive projectiles at air- or sea-based targets" in the Pacific Northwest in the coming months.

"The system charges for two minutes and fires in less than one second," the 1,800-page assessment states. "The system is shielded so as not to affect shipboard controls and systems. The amount of electromagnetic energy released from this system is low and contained on the surface vessel."

The Navy's explicit emphasis on the mount and power systems in particular are a good sign for the electromagnetic railgun. As Task & Purpose previously reported back in December 2017, railgun proponents feared that changing budget priorities would hamper the development of a tactical shipboard demonstrator, consigning the railgun to R&D limbo while the Pentagon appeared increasingly focused on the hypervelocity projectiles (HVP) that are just as effective when fired from conventional artillery.

As recently as February 2019, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson had declared the railgun "[a] 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 at the time. "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."

It seems that Railgun enthusiasts can put those earlier concerns about changing budget priorities to rest. As The War Zone points out, the Navy's fiscal 2020 budget request included an additional $7.6 million over last year's budget request to keep plugging away at the system. And with plans for a tactical demonstrator apparently taking shape, the supergun appears primed to blow skeptics out of the water.

The Space Force has a name tape now

popular

The U.S. Space Force has a name tape for uniforms now. Get excited people.

In a tweet from its official account, the Space Force said its uniform name tapes have "touched down in the Pentagon," sharing a photo of it on the chest of Gen. John W. Raymond, the newly-minted Chief of Space Operations for the new service branch nested in the Department of the Air Force.

Read More

PALM BEACH, Fla. (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump gave a minute-to-minute account of the U.S. drone strikes that killed Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani in remarks to a Republican fund-raising dinner on Friday night, according to audio obtained by CNN.

With his typical dramatic flourish, Trump recounted the scene as he monitored the strikes from the White House Situation Room when Soleimani was killed.

Read More

The U.S. Navy will name its fourth Ford-class aircraft carrier after Doris Miller, an iconic World War II sailor recognized for his heroism during the Pearl Harbor attack, according to reports in The Honolulu Star-Advertiser and U.S. Naval Institute News.

Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly is expected to announce the naming of CVN-81 during a ceremony on Monday in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, according to USNI. Two of Miller's nieces are expected to be there, according to the Star-Advertiser.

Read More

Two immigrants, a pastor and an Army sergeant have been convicted of conspiracy to commit marriage fraud as part of an illegal immigration scheme, according to federal prosecutors.

Rajesh Ramcharan, 45; Diann Ramcharan, 37; Sgt. Galima Murry, 31; and the Rev. Ken Harvell, 60, were found guilty Thursday after a nine-day jury trial, according to a news release from the U.S. attorney's office in Colorado.

The conspiracy involved obtaining immigration benefits for Rajesh Ramcharan, Diann Ramcharan, and one of their minor children, the release said. A married couple in 2007 came to the U.S. from Trinidad and Tobago on visitor visas. They overstayed the visas and settled in Colorado.

Read More

DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran said on Saturday it was sending to Ukraine the black boxes from a Ukrainian passenger plane that the Iranian military shot down this month, an accident that sparked unrest at home and added to pressure on Tehran from abroad.

Iran's Tasnim news agency also reported the authorities were prepared for experts from France, Canada and the United States to examine information from the data and voice recorders of the Ukraine International Airlines plane that came down on Jan. 8.

The plane disaster, in which all 176 aboard were killed, has added to international pressure on Iran as it grapples with a long running row with the United States over its nuclear program that briefly erupted into open conflict this month.

Read More