US Army eyes electromagnetic railgun as navy test plans unfold | World Defense

US Army eyes electromagnetic railgun as navy test plans unfold


Dec 5, 2014
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US Army eyes electromagnetic railgun as navy test plans unfold
Daniel Wasserbly, Washington, DC - IHS Jane's Defence Weekly
28 July 2015

An artist's rendering of the USN's EMRG concept, shown here integrated on a JHSV, which will host the first EMRG firing at sea in 2016. Source: US Navy

The US Navy's (USN's) electromagnetic railgun (EMRG) programme is moving ahead through several lines of effort, and officials are considering ways to apply the system to land-based air defence.

In the near term, the USN's fifth and newest Joint High Speed Vessel (JHSV), USNS Trenton , is to host the first at-sea demonstration of the EMRG sometime in 2016, but the navy is also working to develop a GPS-guided Hypervelocity Projectile (HPV) that can be steered towards targets, and hopes to integrate a 'repetitive rate' firing the railgun for trials at sea in 2019, according to Rear Admiral Bryant Fuller, deputy commander for ship design, integration, and naval engineering at Naval Sea Systems Command.

He spoke during a 28 July Directed Energy Summit in McLean, Virginia.

During the event, Brigadier General Neil Thurgood, the US Army's programme executive officer for Missiles and Space, said his service is working with the navy and Pentagon on doctrine and techniques for the ERMG, a navy-led programme, to see how it might fit into the army's air defence structure.

Rear Adm Fuller noted that "in order to make [the land-based railgun] effective … we need to be able to steer the HPV and we need to close the fire control loop". To this end, the army, navy, and Pentagon are exploring various fire control solutions that could address more complex air defence missions, he added.

Meanwhile, although he praised the EMRG's capability, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus lampooned the navy's acquisition processes for taking so long to field the system.

EMRG "will finally be on board a US Navy ship in 2016, but only for testing, and only after several decades of development - that's too long", he said.

Mabus said the testing "will shoot 20 projectiles, five of them GPS-guided Hyper Velocity Projectiles, or HVPs, at targets 25-50 miles away".

Still, the 32 mega joule weapon marks a notable increase in capability. It will launch projectiles out to 100 miles, whereas the USN's current 5-inch gun can only reach out 13 miles. EMRG could also, potentially, result in savings because its rounds "cost about USD25,000 compared to USD500,000 to USD1.5 million for missiles", Mabus noted.
US Army eyes electromagnetic railgun as navy test plans unfold - IHS Jane's 360