Navy Will Test its Electromagnetic Rail Gun aboard DDG 1000

DDG1000The Navy is evaluating whether to mount its new Electromagnetic Rail Gun weapon aboard the high-tech DDG 1000 destroyer by the mid-2020s, service officials said.

The DDG 1000’s Integrated Power System provides a large amount of on board electricity sufficient to accommodate the weapon, Capt. Mike Ziv, Program Manager for Directed Energy and Electric Weapon Systems, told reporters at the Navy League’s 2015 Sea Air Space symposium at National Harbor, Md.

The first of three planned DDG 1000 destroyers was christened in April of last year.

Ziv said Navy leaders believe the DDG 1000 is the right ship to house the rail gun but that additional study was necessary to examine the risks. A rigorous study on the issue should be finished by the end of this year, Ziv said.

“I think it’s an ideal platform. There is a little bit more work needed to understand the details,” he added.

The DDG 1000 is 65-percent larger than existing 9,500-ton Aegis cruisers and destroyers with a displacement of 15,482 tons,.

The DDG 1000’s integrated power system, which includes its electric propulsion, helps generate up to 58 megawatts of on-board electrical power, something seen as key to the future when it comes to the possibility of firing a rail gun.

It is also possible that the weapon could someday be configured to fire from DDG 51 Arleigh Burke-class destroyers.

“We’ve looked at ships as small as DDG 51s. It takes something of that size. This isn’t something you are going to put on an LCS,” Ziv added.

Meanwhile, the Navy plans to test-fire its new Electromagnetic Rail Gun at sea for the first time in the summer of 2016 from on board the USNS Trenton, a Joint High Speed Vessel, service officials said.

The test shots will take place at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. During the test, the rail gun will fire a series of GPS-guided hypervelocity projectiles at a barge floating on the ocean about 25 to 50 nautical miles away,

“We’re going to fire it against a floating target. We’re trying to gauge the ability to engage a target over the horizon,” Ziv explained. “We’re going to have a gradual ramp up and gather data. This is a significant event but it is also a key learning point.”

The Navy is developing the rail gun weapon for a wide range of at-sea and possible land-based applications, Ziv said. The weapon can fire guided, high-speed projectiles more than 100 miles, which makes is suitable for cruise missile defense, ballistic missile defense and various kinds of surface warfare applications.

The railgun uses electrical energy to create a magnetic field and propel a kinetic energy projectile at Mach 7.5 toward a wide range of targets, such as enemy vehicles, or cruise and ballistic missiles.

“The weapon works when electrical power charges up a pulse-forming network. That pulse-forming network is made up of capacitors able to release very large amounts of energy in a very short period of time.  The weapon releases a current on the order of 3 to 5 million amps — that’s 1,200 volts released in a ten millisecond timeframe. That is enough to accelerate a mass of approximately 45 pounds from zero to five thousand miles per hour in one one-hundredth of a second,” Ziv added.

The hypervelocity projectile is a kinetic energy warhead, meaning it has no explosives engineered into it. This lowers the cost and the logistics burden of the weapon, Ziv said.

The rate of fire is 10-rounds per minute, Ziv said.

Due to its ability to reach speeds of up to 5,600 miles per hour, the hypervelocity projectile is engineered as a kinetic energy warhead, meaning no explosives are necessary. The hyper velocity projectile can travel at speeds up to 2,000 meters per second, a speed which is about three times that of most existing weapons.

Although it has the ability to intercept cruise missiles, the hypervelocity projectile can be stored in large numbers on ships. Unlike other larger missile systems designed for similar missions, the hypervelocity projectile costs only $25,000 per round.

The railgun can draw its power from an onboard electrical system or large battery, Navy officials said. The system consists of five parts, including a launcher, energy storage system, a pulse-forming network, hypervelocity projectile and gun mount.

While the weapon is currently configured to guide the projectile against fixed or static targets using GPS technology, it is possible that in the future the rail gun could be configured to destroy moving targets as well, Ziv explained.

— Kris Osborn can be reached at

About the Author

Kris Osborn
Kris Osborn is the managing editor of Scout Warrior.
  • Riceball

    Wouldn’t it be more accurate to say 1 of 3 authorized Zumwalts instead of planned since the original plan called for more than just 3 of them.

    • Chasdale

      you can say anything you want….all we know is what they tell us ’cause we aint’t actually there……….????????????

      • dukedescargo

        You’re not understanding what he is saying. The Zumwalt class destroyer was originally supposed to be 32 ships. They cancelled 29 of them, which means that there are only 3 of them in existence. He is noting that the language used makes it sound much grander than it actually is.

        Also, since there are only 3 instead of 32, the price per unit has skyrocketed as well.

  • Lance

    Don’t jump the Gun test this at sea before you plan to mount this weapon on every new Destroyer.

    • Chasdale

      They’re currently EVALUATING it. Which means they’ll (the Navy) figure out a way to change it just enough to make it their own and not tell us when the Destroyers possess this weapon. Often we find out about new weapons…..when they are no longer hide-able.

  • Fatman

    Been waiting for these tests since I was a kid and all this railgun talk was just science fiction.

    • Chasdale

      Isn’t it amazing how a lot of the science fiction of the past is reality now? I wonder what they’re working on now that we don’t know about

  • Dfens

    It’s about damn time they mounted a railgun on something. This has already been 40 years of research for the sake of free money.

    • Londoner

      where and when did you get the idea that the ‘electromagnetic rail gun’ is ready for installation on a destroyer?

      where and when did you get the idea that the gun is viable as a weapon?

  • Andy

    we need a minimum of 20 of this ship.

    • @GreensboroVet

      It is also possible that the weapon could someday be configured to fire from DDG 51 Arleigh Burke-class destroyers.

      WE can afford more berks with rail guns per dollar than DDG1000s. Even with railguns, three DDG1000 are easier to kill than 85+ Berks with rail guns.

      • blight_

        They’re just blowing smoke on us.

        We’ll take the LRLAP sized to be fired from a DDG-51. By the time the rail gun technology has matured, the Burkes will be canned, and the next generation of destroyer will be upon us.

  • Brian B. Mulholland

    An awful lot of testing is needed before the railgun becomes more than a technology demonstrator. For a start, how much lethality testing of the non-explosive projectile intended for initial use has actually been done? I suspect the answer is “not too much,” since you need a reliable, non-problematic railgun in the first place to test munitions. And I will wager a dollar or two that we’re an easy decade away from testing a guided railgun munition that will finally reach the 100-mile mark. Moving targets? Missiles? Look to 2030. I’m not complaining so much as remarking what a big technology this is, and how much work it’s going to need before it justifies the hypervelocity hype.

    • Londoner

      they haven’t gotten it beyond the tech demonstrator stage!!!

      the US will be lucky to survive as a country as you know it now beyond 2018- 20.

      Americans have no idea what is going to hit them in a year or two.

      Better than the movies!

      • AAK

        1st statement is true enough.

        Lemme guess about the rest. The dollar will collapse & erryone should be in gold.

        • blankard

          A lot more than a mere collapse of the dollar I suspect. There are freaking serious consequences when a country prints money out of thin air by the trillions year after year.

    • John

      It’s rather funny you bring up the testing issues since this gun requires extreme amounts of power. Now has anyone stop to think about the force of firing a gun on a boat of floating water it’s much different then the simple principle of chemical munitions firing since there is a large recoil effect.

      Now firing the gun requires large power and produces large amounts of heat that at this time frame melts the gun it’s self. So until we solve the heat, high energy, material design, targeting principle, and targeting tracking capability I would say this weapon is a dream away from being practical usage. I would say it still requires very much research and testing before it can even see field work.. yes it passed the proving ground condition but it has yet to pass the battle condition’s and reliability testing.

      • majr0d

        I hadn’t heard about the gun melting. I wonder why?

        That seems like a pretty significant deal breaking issue.

        • blight_

          Same here. I’ve seen it expressed anecdotally, but digging through public domain research publications may reveal a few gems, starting with:


      • blight_

        Barrel wear and damage from high sustained rates of fire are a normal part of conventional operations. More likely than not, these weapons will be operated at a “maximum” velocity, low-rate-of-fire mode maximizing launch speed, or a lower “sustained” rate of fire, or a lower velocity, but higher rate-of-fire mode.

      • citanon

        For decades, two problems barred railguns from being practical:

        A: Barrel melt
        B: Getting guidance electronics in the round to survive firing.

        We are seeing the movement towards fielding today because both problems have supposedly been solved.

        • pork barrel kid

          Fiction! citanon.

  • pottss55

    There is only one place on earth that can build the 1000 ! Right on the kennebec river . Dispite what Fred Harris says

  • Ben

    Wait… $25K per shot? That’s uh… pretty pricey for a hunk of metal with a few guidance electronics in it.

    • Darryl

      I think that is more than fair for an electronic device that must survive being from accelerated from “zero to five thousand miles per hour in one one-hundredth of a second” while being exposed to what I can only guess as some near unthinkable level of magnetic forces (Think EMP) and still be able to function as designed so that it reaches and hits the designated target.. This isn’t just a simple bullet but it’s a oversized GPS guided bullet.

      • t1oracle

        I still think that if anyone else designed that projectile it would cost $500. The electronics don’t need to do anything until after they’ve left the gun. A mechanical clock could be delay the operation of the electronics.

        • Darryl

          I would be really interested in learning who those “anyone else’s” you are referring to are. I would suspect that it would be difficult to get even a non-GPS guided solid metal round for $500, given the specifications of how things are to be packaged and preserved (DoD items are over packaged but then, I’ve gotten stuff from supply that had been purchased and stored for sometimes decades, so in the interest of items being serviceable when you need them I accept it a necessary expense, COTS items often come in a simple box, and often don’t survive even simple shipping)

          Additionally I’d be interested in seeing a mechanical clock that would go into this $500 device that would be reliable after being accelerated from “zero to five thousand miles per hour in one one-hundredth of a second”, I could maybe see a chemical delay fuse working, but then that goes against the initial idea of having a basically inert kinetic energy projectile, and that still leaves electronics that need to survive the before mentioned acceleration and magnetic forces. I also don’t see shooting this thing out of the rail gun turned off, and then to expect it to be able to acquire useable GPS signal for corrections before it gets to the target area when it’s traveling at Mach 7.5 or around 5700 Mph, but I’m no engineer or rocket scientist, so it may be possible.

          I was just expressing my personal view that a DoD price of $25k a round seems reasonable all things considered, of course I would like to see it available at a lower price point, but feel that it’s unlikely with the conditions that this item will be subjected to when fired out of a rail gun. What is behind the reason that I wrote what I wrote includes information on the M982 Excalibur 155mm round, which is supposed to be running around $53k each, and that I suspect is not including propellant costs, it too is a GPS guided projectile, but it comes in at over 100lbs, and includes an explosive charge (not inert), and is limited to a range of around 14 or 25 miles depending on version. So on a strictly cost per round the rail gun “ammo” would seem to be a fair or better value, of course this does not take into consideration the costs of the launch platform.

          But in then end, these are just my personal views that are based on what I know, what I think I know, and what I found while surfing the internet.

          • t1oracle

            The M982 Excalibur 155mm round contains high explosives. Explosive materials are still very expensive, even a .50 cal round cost $70. A solid chunk of metal on the other hand is dirt cheap. Aluminum is only 80 cents/lbs and steel is even cheaper, so even at 100 lbs that’s still only $80.

            As for the mechanical clock I’m not talking about a wris****ch, more like a clever usage of springs, weights, and gears (if necessary) using the inertia of the railgun as a trigger. Building mechanical parts that can handle extreme G-forces shouldn’t be a problem, plenty of metals can handle extreme G-forces. As for the magnetic field you just need to use non-magnetic materials like aluminum.

            Getting the GPS to function at Mach 7.5 should just be a matter of processing speed which shouldn’t be a challenge for modern CPU’s. The only thing that really sounds challenging is getting the electronics to survive the magnetic field. I know that NASA has always used electronic that are hardened against radiation, maybe those could do the job?

            Regardless, with $80 of metal, $5 for a mechanical timer, maybe $100 for fancy carbon fiber control surfaces. that still leaves $24,815 for magnetically hardened GPS navigation electronics. Does that really sound right to you?

          • Darryl

            I’m not sure who’s view you are trying to support, I introduced the M982 as an example and a price point since it does use GPS guidance, and is fired from an Howitzer, thus has to be able to deal with some level of shock, I suspect less than a rail gun since the final speed is much lower.

            On getting a GPS to function at Mach 7.5 is not the issue I was trying to highlight, instead that there would be very little time for a GPS to turn on after being fired from a rail gun, then acquire enough satellites to get a positional fix and make corrections before the 100 mile flight was done. How long does it take to cover 100 miles when you are traveling at Mach 7.5 or around 5700 Mph?

            If the projectile was made of Aluminum, that would defeat the purpose of having a rail gun, since one, it’s non-magnetic, and two lightweight which would mean that the amount of kinetic energy available to be delivered to the target would be minimal in comparison to a much denser metal. This projectile will most likely be made of some kind of exotic material or mix of materials.

            I would like to know where I can order fancy carbon fiber control surfaces, real carbon fiber is stupid expensive, and while you are at it also let me know where I can get a $5 buck mechanical timer that will function reliably when exposed to the extremes that I think we agree will be generated by a rail gun.

            For $500 I can’t get a handheld GPS, Cell phone, Smart Phone, Tablet or portable computer that can survive a 10 or 20 foot drop onto a concrete floor. I suspect that for the same $500, a GPS guided round for a rail gun would not survive the same drop much less operate after being shot out of an rail gun.

            You mention things like NASA using electronics that are hardened against radiation, and I agree that those might work, but I suspect that again that those electronics don’t come cheap. The same applies to the modern CPU’s that you mentioned, yes they can process data really quickly, but between the power requirements of modern CPU’s and the need to both physically and electronically harden then, I cannot see how one is supposed to be able to get one into a projectile that has a total unit cost of only $500.

            That leaves me still thinking/feeling that the $25k figure is not bad. And unless I can be given information to show that there actually are low cost COTS parts out there that can be cobbled toghther to make a projectile for $500. I think we will be stuck and unable to agree.

            I wish I could find a way or information that I could use to support the $500 per unit argument, but until then I don’t think I will be able to say anything other than $25k seems reasonable.

            Current technology M982 is $53k each, and no matter how expensive military explosives are, I don’t really think that they cost $52.5k (which leaves $500 for the rest of that projectile), I would not be surprised if the shipping container for the M982 costs $500 by it’s self.

            I cannot break down the cost of the parts of this hypothetical 45 pound kinetic energy round, but I definalty can say that it won’t be made of $80 of metal, have a $5 mechanical timer and $100 worth of carbon fiber control surfaces. Look at the cost of other weapon systems mentioned by the other people commenting on these pages. I’m not sure that a .50 cal round costs $70, but they are not cheap, even .5.56/.223 component costs (bullet, primer, powder) can approach a dollar a round depending on the application, or it can be kept down to a quarter or less if you are reloading then and buying components in bulk.

            So we are stuck with it should cost no more than $500 versus $25k seems reasonable all things considered.

          • t1oracle

            In 2010 it was reported that this railgun fired 23 lbs aluminum projectiles.…

            23 lbs of aluminium is only $18.40.

            Given that k = mv^2 the mass really isn’t nearly as important as the velocity.

            “let me know where I can get a $5 buck mechanical timer that will function reliably when exposed to the extremes that I think we agree will be generated by a rail gun.”
            Springs are cheap. I’m sorry that you don’t have the engineering background to understand that. You’d be surprised how often the solution to a complex problem is incredibly simple. That’s engineering, unless of course you’re a government contractor.

            “fancy carbon fiber control surfaces, real carbon fiber is stupid expensive”
            Which is why I used it as an example. The control surfaces on a 23 lbs (or even a 100 lbs) Mach 7 projectile would be incredibly small, likely less than a inch in length. So even if you use a stupid expensive material to make them, it’s still going to be dirt cheap.

            “You mention things like NASA using electronics that are hardened against radiation, and I agree that those might work, but I suspect that again that those electronics don’t come cheap. The same applies to the modern CPU’s that you mentioned, yes they can process data really quickly, but between the power requirements of modern CPU’s and the need to both physically and electronically harden then, I cannot see how one is supposed to be able to get one into a projectile that has a total unit cost of only $500.”
            The CPU in a wrist watch could navigate this thing. It’s 2015. By Moores Law electronics double in performance and half in cost every 18 months since 1965. It’s not going to cost $24,000 to make a circuit that could navigate this thing.

            “On getting a GPS to function at Mach 7.5 is not the issue I was trying to highlight, instead that there would be very little time for a GPS to turn on after being fired from a rail gun, then acquire enough satellites to get a positional fix and make corrections before the 100 mile flight was done”
            It would have 67 seconds. The bottleneck wouldn’t be the timer, you could design that to go off in nanoseconds. It won’t be the CPU either, even a gigahertz CPU from 10 years ago would spend over 99% of that trip waiting. The bottleneck would be the satellite signals traveling at the speed of light from the incredible distance to space down to the projectile and back. That takes about 240 milliseconds, which will seems like eons to the CPU. In 240 milliseconds the projectile will travel 0.355 miles, however GPS requires at least 3 satellites to be accurate. The boot time from a Google Chromebook (which is a far more complex of a system than a GPS navigation unit) is 10 seconds. In that time the projectile would have travelled 14.8 miles. So even with a 10 second boot it would still have the remaining 85% of the trip to adjust course.

            So if you have been paying attention, the hardest parts in all of this are factors outside of the actual projectile. Waiting for 3 GPS satellites might take as long as 1.5 seconds (240 ms * 2 for worst case latency * 3 satellites) in which time the projectile would have travelled 2.2 miles. So the projectile would only get course corrections every 2.2 miles and that depends on the satellites always getting a signal to the projectile.

            Spending $24k on electronics isn’t going to make that any better.

          • Darryl

            I have come to the conclusion that any further discussion will not get us any closer to any form or agreement, I do agree with some of the things you are saying, yes a CPU from a wrist watch might be able to process the signals from the GPS unit, but a CPU from a watch (cheap as is) most likely cannot survive in the environment that will exist in the rail gun. Your GPS calculations are most likely correct, but you need 4 satellites at a minimum to determine location to include altitude which further increases potential latency, the low powered watch cpu is not operating at a Ghz, or something even close. What I see is that you are taking the best possible parts of each idea to support your argument, without considering if those parts can actually come together. My argument is a bit simpler, it’s based on things that exists now, and usually have have a price tag on them already, and based on that I say that it seems fair, please take a look at the posts that follow this one from Davis, insider and blight_, to see that there are other views concerning the price or maybe more accurately perceived value.

            I can say that I did enjoy this exchange of ideas and thoughts, but it’s time bring this particular exchange to an end as it seems that there is no way for it to come to an end, it will just further develop into hypothetical discussions about an item that there is just too little information on.

            Again, thank you for your time, effort input and feedback.


          • Tony

            good discussion guys, much more enjoyable to read posts like the two of you have just presented than the typical “USA sucks” “no you suck” etc…

          • majr0d

            Agree Tony, some great info here. I fall more along Darryl’s position in the end.

            One cannot base the cost of an item based solely on the cost of it’s base elements. Aluminum might be cheap but manufacturing it in a way to function and fly true at hypervelocity speeds costs money. Modern tank penetrator rounds cost much more than what the steel, tungsten or depleted uranium costs by the ounce that goes into them. When fired at hyper velocity speeds, they melt and become unstable inside of a three mile range.

            That said, your plain jane .50 cal round costs $3-$7 each. Not sure what the prototype EXACTO guided .50 cal round costs but IF it costs only $70 it’s not a good comparison to a hyper velocity round. The range of EXACTO round is about a mile, undergoes a fraction of the G’s a rail gun round does, would melt if it were fired at the same velocities and is only guided by a laser beam (significantly simpler technology).

            There’s also the factor that hundreds of millions if not more rounds are produced in .50 cal. Don’t think we’ll be making that many rail gun rounds.

            Finally, I think comparing a rail gun round to an artillery shell that flies a fifth of the range is the wrong comparison. A better cost comparison is to the actual munition we are using today that has that range which is typically some sort of missile that costs hundreds of thousands of dollars. In FY 2014, the M31 GMLRS Unitary Rockets cost approximately $110k each with a less than 45mi range.

          • d. kellogg

            I, too, am very skeptical about these claims of $25K/shot for a guided hypervelocity projectile.
            It’s taken a decade of development and refinement to get Excaliburs under $75K/each delivered, and Lockheed Martin is still hard-pressed to guarantee a fixed price on the LRLAPs the 3 DDG1000’s will fire until (if?) they ever get a functional railgun.

            But then again, gun-fired precision shell guidance has matured considerably in the past decade also, with the further announcement that Raytheon is pursuing the Excalibur in 127mm caliber for wider naval use than any railguns will see for a considerable time, the Italians (OTO Melara) have taken their 76mm naval ammunition family into the guided subcaliber precision projectile domain with the DART, and only recently announced by BAE is the ORKA “fuze” for 57mm caliber.
            I am hoping it IS legit, being that its press release was within weeks of April 1st…

            Too bad those DDGs sacked their 57mm mounts for 30’s instead…

            Any chance we can see a future DefenseTech article on this development?

          • d. kellogg

            Just once I’d like to see a pdf link PROPERLY work on this website. Just query ORKA on the BAE website.

          • majr0d

            Worked for me. Good points.

          • citanon

            In the Excalibur you’re paying for a GPS/inertial guidance kit, a sophisticated fuze and more HE.

            The rail gun rounds are for air defense. The guidance kit will probably be radio wave based (not as expensive as gps/inertial nav) and there will be a simpler fuze for a small amount of HE to scatter some flechettes for higher POI. The $25K figure does sound cheap but it does not necessarily have to be as expensive as an Excalibur round.

          • pork barrel kid

            Fiction, too.

            Too many wet dreams are bad for your health, kid.

          • d. kellogg

            No, they are NOT primarily for air defense. You don’t make a weapon that big for “flak” anymore. Lasers and other DEWs (directed energy weapons) will perform the future anti air mission. These railguns are primarily for surface strike: inland targets first, surface vessels second.
            You don’t put GPS into a hypervelocity flak shell, when IR or radar seeking has always been the tried and true method of anti air guidance. And you don’t develop a turreted hypersonic flak weapon intending to shoot down aircraft several dozen km away. Missiles will be more favorable, for the sole purpose they can maneuver to intercept in the target’s predicted area.
            This railgun is not being built as an air defense weapon. The DDG1000s are surface support ships, not anti air cruisers with Aegis systems and SPY- or AMDR radars.

          • citanon

            See for example:

            Note that there are several missions depicted. Will they use the same round for all those missions? I doubt it. If you have an Excalibur like self-guided land attack mission, or something to hit moving targets, one might expect much higher cost per round than an air defense application where the round is being guided by the ship or the ground based radar.

    • Davis

      $25K is still cheaper than SM-2, SM-3, SM-6, Tomahawk, and probably the upcoming LRASM - Every little bit of savings helps, especially considering today’s budget environment.

    • insider

      if you think 25K per shot is pricey, wait till the gun is actually finalized for deployment in 20 years.

      I wouldn’t be surprised if price tag goes up to 2500K per shot.

      • breezxe

        the US dollar and the US as we know it won’t last another 20 years!!

        Even traditional US lapdogs like France and Germany are taking concrete steps toward dropping the dollar. There is a reason why the NSA has been spying on Germany, France, Japan, and other so-called allies. Global dedollarization is not exactly a recent mood change, but a self-preservation / self-defense strategy born out of necessity over two decades ago.

        • cantor

          The only nation that can afford Electromagnetic Rail Guns is China. The US is already bankrupt.

          I don’t believe China would deploy the tech because it has already acquired sufficient and economical weaponry to take out any ship in the US navy (from the air, surface, and under water).

    • blight_

      Wish I knew where the 25k/round number came from. It could be an R&D number. In large serial production with large buys from Israel, Europe and the Middle East that number may come down. For a while JDAM’s were thought of as pricey, but they have proved their worth. From the sketchiest source on the internet (Wikipedia)

      “The original cost estimate was $40,000 each for the tail kits; however, after competitive bidding, contracts were signed with McDonnell Douglas (later Boeing) for delivery at $18,000 each. Unit costs have since increased to $21,000 in 2004 and $27,000 by 2011”

      Costs drop when you scale-up (and they rise again when you start adding more features, get greater profit margins, or manufacturing practices change, or production numbers change). It’s possible that 25k/shot number will go down in serial production, but this is unlikely if we only have three Zumwalts. Like the F-22, we have built something that will only be used by American forces, thus we will pay for this privilege.

    • citanon


      The sensors, electronics and actuators in the round have to survive both the massive shock of being accelerated from 0 to 2550 m/s in about 5m (barrel length). That’s about 65000gs of acceleration.

      The electronics also have to survive a massive electro-magnetic pulse from the firing of the railgun. Since this is a 30 MJ weapon and the dwell time in a 5 m barrel is about 0.004 seconds according to my calculations, that’s a 7.5 GW pulse. The round is not electrically isolated from the outside environment since the guidance electronics have to be able to receive tracking signals from the guidance radars. Those have got to be some pretty tough little transistors.

      Then also consider:

      If the rounds are shooting down incoming ballistic missile or ashcm, then each $25 K round is taking out a $1 million to $10 million dollar missile.

      In other words, not only is this round a technological marvel, it would also gives the US a massive cost advantage for each missile shot down.

      I’m still skeptical the whole thing would work. We will see.

  • @GreensboroVet

    Anyone remember those big laser cannons the rebels used to fire into space from the Ice planet in one of the Star Wars movies? Imagine having three big guns like those on each coast. Using differ rounds to shoot into space to hit Sats and anything else up there. Prompt Global Strikes world wide using conventional rounds anywhere on the planet in less than 30 minutes. All from the safety and comfort of the good ole U S of A.

    • John

      Your way funny that was a laser not a rail gun. If you used the rail ammunition it would melt or freeze before even escaping earths orbit…so it will never be used for that capability it will more likely see preventing long range missiles from entering our air space while there still over the enemy launch plat form.

    • blight_

      Ground-mounted LRLAP emplacements in Baghdad, Balad, et al would have provided excellent fire support to the Iraqis to cover their wholesale ARVN-style retreat from ISIS.

      • d. kellogg

        Ground mounted emplacements would’ve required Maginot Line sized support complexes to sustain the operation of multiple powered turrets with powered ammunition handling systems, built on expensive foundations with a plethora of associated support equipment in trail. Mobile tube artillery like M777s and M109A6s firing Excaliburs, and now PGK also, as well as M270 series and HIMARS GMLRS launchers, are and will continue to be cheaper mobile solutions.

  • AAK

    Potentially terrific new weapon, but we’re really still in early development, another decade or two from deployment.

    “We’ve looked at ships as small as DDG 51″. The fact it can’t yet be deployed on any mainstream hull of the US navy, which are themselves 2x the size of most other navies, means we’re still barely starting here.

    But much like the laser weapons, they are ready to be on a boat as a prototype to work out the kinks for real deployment down the track. Which I suspect will take longer than lasers but that’s another story.

  • Tonys

    “The hyper velocity projectile can travel at speeds up to 2,000 meters per second, a speed which is about three times that of most existing weapons.”

    More hype - APDS tank rounds already do over 1 600 m/s.

    It would seem that this presentation was a stitch job done form previous ones - hence the different units of speed used. Converting all of them to one rate, the same weapon can travel at: a) 2235 m/s; b) 2530 m/s; and c) 2552 m/s - a variation of just over 14%. No doubt the cost increases will mean an escalation far higher than that and at the lowest speed.

    • Drew

      this is an internet blog, not a scientific journal. The numbers you’ve converted were all rounded to their reported units. The 1600 m/s tank round is the muzzle velocity. I believe the 2k m/s quoted for the rail gun is the sustained velocity over its flight

      • insider


        Failed all your high school physics classes, didn’t you?!

        Air resistance matters to all free projectiles. Air doesn’t distinguish between rounds fired from a tank and rounds from any electromagnetic rail gun.

    • mtngoatjoe

      Make sure you completely disregard the weight of the projectiles. There’s no sense in comparing velocities if you’re not going to ignore the weight. /sarcasm

    • majr0d

      Tony - “MOST existing weapons” (emphasis added) APDS rounds are a minority of existing weapons.

  • mtngoatjoe

    I remember seeing a rail gun about 20 years ago at the University of Washington. It was about 20 feet long and could punch a hole in tank armor. I would have thought the technology would have moved a little faster, but I understand now that the power requirements are quite high.

  • Charles

    “We’ve looked at ships as small as DDG 51s. It takes something of that size. This isn’t something you are going to put on an LCS,” Ziv added.
    No surprise. Its a new ship that we were told is so versatile - except for the fact that according to Adm Greenert, it was never designed to venture into the littorals to engage in combat. Hence - the ship was not designed to carry weapons of consequence in meaningful numbers, or for that matter, add significant protections for the crews.

    That said, the Zumwalts were designed to generate a pile-o-electricity, which should make them ideal for powering rail guns.

  • Curt

    Who writes the titles?

    The title talks about testing the rail gun on DDG-1000. The text talks about the possibility of fielding a weapon on the DDG-1000 in the mid-2020s but never mentions testing it, as in within the next few years, on DDG-1000 only the JHSV. The Navy is not even sure if it would make sense to field a rail gun weapon on DDG-1000. Based on the comments of Capt Ziv, they won’t have an answer until the end of the year.

  • JohnnyRanger

    I thought these were supposed to be NGFS platforms? Can an area target in defilade be engaged with a non-explosive rail gun round?

    • blight_

      No more airburst or time-delay. Impact only.

      • William_C1

        There was talk of a modern sort of “shrapnel round” that would disperse a whole lot of tungsten cubes before impact, with enough velocity where they could knock out light AFVs.

  • Ibis

    U.S. Navy, like a tesla, is going all electric with Rail Gun + Lasers. No more explosives onboard.

    • Darryl

      No explosives onboard sounds great.

      But I think it’s very unlikely since kinetic energy rounds tend to need to hit things that are “hard” to be able to convert the speed into destructive energy, and I suspect that it would not be too effective against soft or area targets. Lasers also have environmental limitations, the less clear the air, the more loss of energy. And both of these systems require vast amounts of power thus must be tied into the ships main power busses, any kind of power failure (Damage to the ships main power plant or power busses) would put these systems out of operation.

      Conventional munitions store energy in a chemical form, and require much less energy to get them to operate, thus are inherently more dependable since they require less outside support to operate. Guns can often be operated by “hand” if needed, but I suspect that a laser or rail gun would have no means to operate without a ships main power source being on-line and available. Maybe in the future, the power sources will be made small enough to fit in the turret, to make the weapon self sufficient.

      So, I just don’t see “explosives” not playing a major part of any military weapons systems happening any time soon. Even so, it would be great to see.

  • Will

    Wonder if they could use the gun to fire on satellites?

  • Willie

    I don’t know if this statement is exactly accurate, “The Navy is evaluating whether to mount its new Electromagnetic Rail Gun weapon aboard the high-tech DDG 1000 destroyer by the mid-2020s, service officials said.”

    I thought the DDG 1000 Zumwalt was specifically designed to accommodate the railgun. It seems like the evaluation has been done before the DDG 1000 was built.

  • Justin

    Even on the Zumwalts they CANNOT produce enough electricity to power the railgun and the rest of the ship at the same time!!!!!!!!!

  • Auyong Ah Meng

    Can the rail gun by reducing its dimensions and reducing its already overpowering fire power to somehow meet various current and future vessels/submarines/big ass aircraft/fortresses power generating capacity to still work…jus wondering…on the wild side also a bit : )

  • john burns

    to bad we don’t have anything going to decommisioning soon that has a huge electrical supply and plenty of room like say a CVN 68 class Nimitz carrier?!?! imagine that platform bristling with dozens of these in place. but on this deplyment it is front and center of the battle group not at the center anymore.

  • Brian B. Mulholland

    Not for awhile yet, but …. point defense of ground facilities against ballistic missiles? Perhaps even cities?

    • citanon

      That’s exactly the reason for the gun.

      • d. kellogg

        No, it’s not. Read up on the material from official sources, not fanboi websites. It is not a point defense anti ballistic missile system. It is not an anti Russian horde of bombers defense weapon. It is for long range surface fire support first and foremost.

  • Tad

    Ten years from now? Hmm, that timescale sounds about right for advanced technology, but differs from the hype both the DDG-1000 and the railgun that the Navy had promoted several years ago.

  • Brian B. Mulholland

    If railguns are deployed on ships, not as prototypes or technology demonstrators but as reliable weapons within ten years, I think that’s as good as it will get. Point defense systems for bases (say, Guam, or anywhere else you’d currently like to put a THAAD system) are probably twenty years away.

    • Really?

      A misguided wet dream, to put it mildly.

    • citanon

      Why? It’s probably easier to do on land than at sea. Even at sea, the railgun is primarily an air defense weapon. There are land attack applications, but none are really as compelling as the air and missile defense implications.

  • guest

    Wonder what happens at extreme range? A dull thud as a chunk of metal, energy spent hits the target?

  • d. kellogg

    At sea it’s on a mobile platform. A fixed land based emplacement will have limited defensive (or offensive) capability. Sure, someone like Israel or Taiwan (or even Japan) might benefit from land based coverage zones. But the mobility of ships to move these weapons around the globe, even if only as a modern day battleship equivalent of showing the flag (akin to parking a battleship off the coast during Desert Storm) is the advantage of these weapons over fixed Maginot Line style fortifications that can be bypassed.

  • Felix

    For all the merit of a more cost effective munition integral to the rail gun, has the notion of Pulse weapons against electronics been sorted out to mitigate loss of American service personnel …wouldn’t be wise to put all your eggs in one basket, i.e. relying solely on GPS and Electronics…Technology works well when it’s operable…a inoperable rail gun is no better than a water gun- now there’s a innovative gun - A souped up cost effective water cannon!

  • Felix

    furthermore machines create heat aka energy which can be harnessed to pwr. a water cannon…DARPA get with it…imagine hypersonic water- Abundant ocean around partners Russia + China. Mak’em rethink mess’n with America.