Science

US Army to Receive Railgun Artillery Howitzers in 2019

By | May 08, 2016 09:43 PM EDT
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Hypervelocity death

US Army truck mounted railgun prototype(Photo : General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems)

A recent series of tests seem to vindicate optimism among officials at General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems (GA-EMS), the prime contractor for the US Army's Blitzer electromagnetic railgun system, that the game changing weapon of war can finally be ready for production by 2019.

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The aim of the tests is to develop a multi-mission railgun weapon systems for the US Army. GA-EMS in October 2013, however, predicted the land based version of the Blitzer railgun would see production in 2016.

The latest tests saw a prototype of the Blitzer electromagnetic railgun system successfully fire hypersonic projectiles at far greater ranges than previously. Blitzer is the first weaponized railgun planned for production.

Intended as an artillery weapon to bombard land targets, Blitzer launches a streamlined discarding sabot round designed by Boeing's Phantom Works at 1,600 meters per second or at Mach 5 at accelerations in excess 60,000 giganewtons.

Railguns launch projectiles using electromagnetic forces instead of the chemical propellants used in traditional artillery rounds. These futuristic weapons can deliver muzzle velocities more than twice those of conventional guns.

Blitzer's rounds destroy targets with their very high kinetic energy. They reach velocities above 3 km/s, far exceeding conventional artillery rounds in range and destructive force. The absence of explosive propellants or warheads plus the low cost of projectiles compared to conventional artillery is a big plus for railguns. Railguns can launch multi-mission projectiles with shorter time-to-target and greater effectiveness at longer range.

GA-EMS' Blitzer railgun system is an integrated system that includes the launcher; high density capacitor driven pulsed power and weapon fire control system. Over the past year, GA-EMS has performed pioneering engineering, development and successful testing of electromagnetic railgun launched hypersonic projectiles and projectile components.

Railguns are also being developed for use against aircraft missiles and anti-ship cruise missiles. Because they can travel up to Mach 5, railgun rounds can hit cruise missiles much faster and further away from US Navy ships.


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