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Updated 11:29 AM EDT, Tue, Jun 16, 2020

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Pulse Power Systems that Fire Electromagnetic Railguns Delivered to U.S. Navy

Railgun power.

(Photo : US Navy) Raytheon pulse power modules. (Below) Electromagnetic railgun installed aboard the joint high-speed vessel USNS Millinocket.

The portable power systems that will fire the U.S. Navy's electromagnetic railguns have been delivered by two of three contractors competing for this project.

The Electromagnetic Systems Group of General Atomics (GA-EMS) has already delivered a prototype of its pulse power containers (PPC) for its weapon. Raytheon Company has announced its shipping its first PPC units to the U.S. Navy. L-3 Applied Technologies is also expected to complete working on another PPC version of within a year.

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The U.S. Navy is evaluating two EM railgun models. One is a 32 megajoule prototype built by BAE Systems. The other is the 32 megajoule Blitzer developed by GA-EMS.

GA-EMS has developed, built and successfully tested two railguns: the internally funded the Blitzer 3 MJ system and a 32 MJ launcher for the Office of Naval Research.

PPCs are huge banks of capacitors or rechargeable batteries packed inside standard ISO containers. Each container has enough energy to discharge 18 kilowatts for each railgun round.

To enable the railgun to fire 10 shots per minute, the PPC must recharge from the host ship in seconds. It must also be able to store and discharge the energy in very short time while managing the thermal load generated by the process.

"The electromagnetic railgun is among several disruptive capabilities that the Naval Research Enterprise is championing to ensure a dominant, capable and relevant naval force for the future," said Chief of Naval Research Rear Admiral Mat Winter.

Raytheon's PPC consists of multiple pulsed power modules that, when combined, produce enough energy to enable the electromagnetic launch of a railgun's high-velocity projectile at speeds in excess of Mach 6.

"Directed energy has the potential to redefine military technology beyond missiles and our pulse power modules and containers will provide the tremendous amount of energy required to power applications like the Navy Railgun," said Colin Whelan, vice president of Advanced Technology for Raytheon's Integrated Defense Systems business.

A railgun weapon system includes the launcher; projectile; high-density pulsed power and fire control system.

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