Next year Naval Sea Systems Command will conduct the first at sea test of its electromagnetic railgun, hurling a guided 44 pound projectile and hypersonic speeds off the coast of Florida, NAVSEA officials said on Tuesday .
The test will validate the assumptions the Navy has made in the decades-old pursuit of the railgun not only as a long range weapon to support troops ashore but start testing new ideas of using the weapon as an anti-surface warfare (ASUW) weapon, a ballistic missile defense (BMD) tool and as a close in weapon system for cruise missile threats.NAVSEA outlined the expanded mission set for the railgun — beyond naval surface fire support — in a request for information issued earlier this year.
Traditionally, the Navy has used missiles to intercept targets but the railgun promises similar results for less money.“There’s a tradition that every time an enemy throws a threat at us our counter to that threat is one order more of magnitude expensive than the threat costs. This is a technology where we’re engaging threats at similar probabilities of kill for a cost that’s about two orders of magnitude less,” Ziv said.
“Looking that the missions sets the railgun will be able to achieve the ship or land based facility, it will be able to store a lot more rounds and consummate a lot more engagements than a traditional missile-type system.”
NAVSEA is also working with the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) to create a modular railgun system for both at sea and on land.