Navy May Delay Firing Rail Gun at Sea to Test Technology in 5-Inch Guns, Artillery

High-speed camera image of the Office of Naval Research Electromagnetic Railgun located at the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division, firing a world-record setting 33 mega-joule shot on Dec. 12, 2010, breaking the previous record established Jan. 31, 2008. (U.S. Defense Department photo)High-speed camera image of the Office of Naval Research Electromagnetic Railgun located at the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division, firing a world-record setting 33 mega-joule shot on Dec. 12, 2010, breaking the previous record established Jan. 31, 2008. (U.S. Defense Department photo)

The Navy is considering accelerating developmental testing of its high-tech, long-range Electro-Magnetic Rail Gun by expanding the platforms from which it might fire and potentially postponing an upcoming at-sea demonstration of the weapon, service officials told Scout Warrior.

Such a strategy, service officials explain, might help speed-up testing of both the rail gun launcher and hypervelocity projectile. This approach might allow the rail gun hypervelocity projectile to fire a 5,000-mile and hour projectile from a wider range of existing maritime and land-based platforms such as deck-mounted Navy 5-inch guns and Army artillery systems.

“The Navy is studying the pros/cons of forgoing a 2016 at-sea demonstration of the Railgun system, with an eye toward potential opportunities for accelerating testing of Railgun and the associated hypervelocity projectile.  Discussions are ongoing,” Matt Leonard, spokesman for Naval Sea Systems Command, told Scout Warrior.

Navy officials now explain that this planned at-sea demonstration may be delayed. This might help weapons developers further accelerate development of both the gun launcher and the hypervelocity projectile it fires. While plans for the weapon’s development are still being deliberated, one possibility may the integration of the projectile onto existing weapons platforms such as the Navy’s deck-mounted 5-inch guns or Army Paladin self-propelled howitzers which fire artillery.

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