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The Navy's electromagnetic railgun is undergoing 'shakedown' tests at the White Sands Missile Range
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.
BANGKOK (Reuters) - The United States and South Korea said on Sunday they will postpone upcoming military drills in an effort to bolster a stalled peace push with North Korea, even as Washington denied the move amounted to another concession to Pyongyang.
The drills, known as the Combined Flying Training Event, would have simulated air combat scenarios and involved an undisclosed number of warplanes from both the United States and South Korea.
An opening ceremony will be held Monday on Hawaii island for a military exercise with China that will involve about 100 People's Liberation Army soldiers training alongside U.S. Army counterparts.
This comes after Adm. Phil Davidson, head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, spoke on Veterans Day at Punchbowl cemetery about the "rules-based international order" that followed U.S. victory in the Pacific in World War II, and China's attempts to usurp it.
Those American standards "are even more important today," Davidson said, "as malicious actors like the Communist Party of China seek to redefine the international order through corruption, malign cyber activities, intellectual property theft, restriction of individual liberties, military coercion and the direct attempts to override other nations' sovereignty."
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump on Sunday told North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to "act quickly" to reach a deal with the United States, in a tweet weighing in on North Korea's criticism of his political rival former Vice President Joe Biden.
Trump, who has met Kim three times since 2018 over ending the North's missile and nuclear programs, addressed Kim directly, referring to the one-party state's ruler as "Mr. Chairman".
In his tweet, Trump told Kim, "You should act quickly, get the deal done," and hinted at a further meeting, signing off "See you soon!"
It is impossible to tune out news about the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump now that the hearings have become public. And this means that cable news networks and Congress are happier than pigs in manure: this story will dominate the news for the foreseeable future unless Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt get back together.
But the wall-to-wall coverage of impeachment mania has also created a news desert. To those of you who would rather emigrate to North Korea than watch one more lawmaker grandstand for the cameras, I humbly offer you an oasis of news that has absolutely nothing to do with Washington intrigue.
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia will return three captured naval ships to Ukraine on Monday and is moving them to a handover location agreed with Kiev, Crimea's border guard service was cited as saying by Russian news agencies on Sunday.
A Reuters reporter in Crimea, which Russian annexed from Ukraine in 2014, earlier on Sunday saw coastguard boats pulling the three vessels through the Kerch Strait toward the Black Sea where they could potentially be handed over to Ukraine.