The end of 2010 test of a 32 megajoule prototype is a few months ahead of the early 2010 schedule. There is also work to make the materials to last for 1000 shots before needing replacement parts
The Navy is making “breakthroughs on directed energy.” Such as the Free Electron Laser, a multi-wavelength laser that the Navy wants to put aboard its ships to fry incoming rockets or missiles with 100 kilowatts of energy.
Israel and the United States are also working on the David's Sling project. David's Sling is the newest bilateral effort to defend against a wide range of rockets, ballistic missiles and air-breathing threats.
General Atomics (GA) is actively working to bring Advanced Electromagnetic Launch Technology to the US Department of Defense in several important areas. GA is currently supporting the development of advanced pulsed power, launcher, and projectile technology as part of the Office of Naval Research’s (ONR) Railgun Innovative Naval Prototype Program
Objective is a 64 Megajoule Railgun
Lead to significant advances in Navy and Marine Corps capabilities, and ship design
* Range will be nearly 20 times that of the current MK 45, 5-inch Naval gun
* All weather projectile–Mach 7 at launch, Mach 5 at impact— greatly reduces response time of Naval gunfi re support
* Inflicts damage through kinetic energy–no warhead or propellant required
* No propellant reduces storage requirements, increasing magazine capacity ten-fold
* Extends the range of Marine Corps combat capability and distributed
* Accuracy of the GPS-guided round will be within five meters of the target
* Capable of massing persistent volume fires in a single land engagement
* High angle of trajectory enables targets on reverse slopes to be engaged
Improve safety aboard ship
* Long-range enables greater stand-off distance for ship
* No propellant or warhead removes explosive risk to crew
* Accuracy minimizes collateral damage to noncombatants
Integrated Power System: GA’s previous and current experience in the development of advanced Integrated Power Systems for Naval propulsion and weapons provides unique insights into the integration of this weapon system in future electric warships.
Pulsed Power Energy Storage Systems:
In addition, GA is developing next generation pulsed power systems that provide mobility and are self contained to operate within a “proving ground” environment using next generation high energy density topologies and components
Advanced Containment Launcher:
Railgun subproject - Development of Refractory Coatings on High Strength, High Conductivity Substrates
OBJECTIVE: To explore and develop coatings of Mo, Ta, or their alloys on high strength, high electrical conductivity alloys to enable damage resistant electromagnetic launcher (electric railgun) rails with a shot life exceeding 1000 rounds.
DESCRIPTION: The US Navy is pursuing the development of an electromagnetic launcher (also known as a railgun) for long range naval surface fire support. An electromagnetic launcher consists of two parallel electrical conductors called rails, and a moving element, called the armature. Current is passed down one rail, through the armature, and back up the other rail. This causes strong magnetic fields, high temperatures, chemical interactions and strong lateral forces on the rails and armature in the launcher bore.
A pair of electrically conductive rails act to transfer the power supply current down their length and through the moving armature creating an accelerating Lorentz force. These rails also provide lateral guidance to the armature. The properties of the rails must be such that they can support the coating on the surface in the presence of high mechanical loads due to armature contact, armature balloting, and heating. At the same time, the rails must conduct current to the armature at levels approaching 6 MA. High strength copper alloys are preferred for the base material due to their combination of strength and electrical conductivity. The surface of the rail must be able to withstand sliding electrical contact with an aluminum armature and polymer bore rider materials at velocities up to 2.5 km/sec, and concurrent balloting loads. In order to survive these conditions, the rail contact face must be electrically conductive, resistant to high transient temperatures, possess high hardness and yield strength and retain these properties after thermal transients, must accommodate balloting loads, and survive exposure to molten armature metals. The material is required to resist thermal breakdown and interaction in the presence of plasma due to high current electrical arcing and shocked gas. The material must eventually be manufacturable at length of several meters, and in non-planar geometry. Molybdenum, tantalum, and alloys based on these materials have shown promise, but monolithic refractory sections typically do not possess the required toughness or elongation limit to resist fracture during railgun operation. Therefore, a coating of a refractory alloy on a high strength, high conductivity base alloy is an attractive approach for increasing rail life.
The Navy will only fund proposals that are innovative, address R&D and involve technical risk.
PHASE I: Develop a rail material/coating and process approach to manufacture electrically conductive bore materials. Conduct any necessary subscale tests needed to show that the proposed process is suitable for Phase II demonstration. Create sample rail coupons for static or small scale testing and verification, such as coating adhesion, strength, erosion resistance, and conductivity versus temperature from ambient to 500 degrees C.
PHASE II: Produce samples of electrically conductive rail materials of at least 1 m length that meet the needs of the EM launcher environment. Demonstrate that the material provides the required material property characteristics described above. Further develop and demonstrate the fabrication or joining processes for creating longer sections. Also demonstrate fabrication technology to create non-planar contact surfaces facing the bore. Produce a prototype set of coupons 1.5 m long and of full rail cross section, for testing in a small scale EM launcher. The EM launcher test facility may be provided as a government furnished asset, or via a teaming relationship with other EM launcher test sites. Potential test sites include various scale railguns operated by Universities and Defense contractors. The results of testing may be classified. The Phase II product may become classified.
PHASE III: Develop full length (7 – 12 meters) rails with final design dimensions in other axes. The materials process developed by the Phase II effort will be applied to Navy railgun proof of concept demonstration and design efforts in the lab as well as industry advanced barrel contractors. Successful rail materials solutions will be transitioned to the ONR EM Railgun INP Program Office for testing within designated laboratories and test facilities as deemed appropriate.
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