NSWC Dahlgren Electromagnetic Railgun Office Program Manager Charles Garnett (right) briefs Brian Detter (middle), Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Expeditionary Programs and Logistics Management, on the Navy's first industry-built electromagnetic railgun prototype launcher. (U.S. Navy photo by Kimberly Brandts - Released)
DAHLGREN, Va.—Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD) Electromagnetic Railgun Office Program Manager Charles Garnett recently briefed Brian Detter, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Expeditionary Programs and Logistics Management, on the Navy's first industry-built electromagnetic railgun prototype launcher.
It was one of several briefs - including Directed Energy, Distributed Tactical Communication System (DTCS), and Gunslinger Package for Advanced Convoy Security (GunPACS) - presented to Detter throughout his NSWCDD tour in April.
The EM railgun launcher's initial testing at Dahlgren on Feb. 28, kicked off a two-month long test series by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) sponsor to evaluate the first of two industry-built launchers. The tests will bring the Navy closer to a new naval gun system capable of extended ranges against surface, air and ground targets.
"This is the next step toward a future tactical system that will be placed on board a ship some day," said Roger Ellis, ONR EM Railgun Program Manager, in a February ONR news release.
The EM Railgun launcher is a long-range weapon that fires projectiles using electricity instead of chemical propellants. Magnetic fields created by high electrical currents accelerate a sliding metal conductor, or armature, between two rails to launch projectiles at 4,500 mph to 5,600 mph.
"This industry prototype represents a step beyond our previous successful demonstrations of the laboratory launcher," said Ellis.
With its increased velocity and extended range, the EM Railgun will give Sailors a multi-mission capability, allowing them to conduct precise naval surface fire support, or land strikes; cruise missile and ballistic missile defense; and surface warfare to deter enemy vessels. Navy planners are targeting a 50 to 100-nautical mile initial capability with expansion up to 220 nautical miles.