Navy Railgun Test

Navy breaks record with railgun test-shot

The Navy set a new world record for the most powerful electromagnetic railgun when it fired a test shot here Thursday morning.

The gun fired an aluminum projectile at 10.68 megajoules. A joule is the work needed to produce one watt of energy for one second. A megajoule is 1 million joules.

The Navy plans to build 64-megajoule guns. If they can, maybe we’ll actually have some decent naval fire support again.

Comments

  1. I wonder which record they are trying to break the kilojoules/projectile record or the most money and longest time spent on research without an operational weapon in the field record? I wonder why gunpowder is a bad thing for these weapons? It would seem to me like it would be much more efficient to start the projectile out using an explosive propellant and then add speed to it using the railgun. That way you don’t have to stop every time you want to charge your capacitors to fire another shot. Plus it would probably shorten the gun a good bit. A Mach 7 projectile is pretty impressive, though. I wonder how you build armor against something travelling that fast.

  2. I just have a hard time being impressed with a 64 megajoule gun, when its being used as justification for tossing away our existing 355 megajoule guns. http://home.earthlink.net/~azirkle/ZDAHL01.html Considering that railguns have a great Buck Rogers flavor I can see the attraction. However, from a practical standpoint, the tech is not there. Maybe in about 20-30 years, but even then there is only so much you can do with a slug of metal. Simply put, an advanced 16inch gun, will for the foreseeable future be more flexible, accurate and more capable then any railgun.

  3. I just have a hard time being impressed with a 64 megajoule gun, when its being used as justification for tossing away our existing 355 megajoule guns. http://home.earthlink.net/~azirkle/ZDAHL01.html Considering that railguns have a great Buck Rogers flavor I can see the attraction. However, from a practical standpoint, the tech is not there. Maybe in about 20-30 years, but even then there is only so much you can do with a slug of metal. Simply put, an advanced 16inch gun, will for the foreseeable future be more flexible, accurate and more capable then any railgun.

  4. What, a 64 megajoule gun isn’t more powerful than a 355 megajoule gun? Next you’ll be telling me that a plastic hulled LCS isn’t ‘the most powerful surface combatant ever built’, the Iowa class battleship is. Where will this insanity end? Surely the Navy wouldn’t purposely obscure facts to justify a pet R&D program, would they?

  5. The real potential of a rail gun, in my opinion, has nothing to do with ships and everything to do with a low cost launch system. If you calculate the theoretical energy it takes to get to orbit, only about 5% should be required for lift ( % = [100 * 2 x grav const x LEO alt]/[LEO vel^2] where grav const = 9.81 m/sec^2, LEO alt = 161,000 m, and LEO vel = 7800 m/sec ). The Saturn V, for instance, had used 10% of its fuel load by the time it cleared the tower and it still had almost no orbital velocity. I would estimate most rockets use somewhere between 50 and 70% of their fuel for lift and the balance on achieving orbital velocity. A rail gun would be great for shooting bulk materials to orbit altitutde where a solid fuel booster rocket would circularize that orbit. Bulk materials would be stuff like air, water, fuel, and oxidizer.