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US Navy ship-mounted railgun closer to reality, Raytheon and others to make it happen

Michael Gorman, @Numeson
January 30, 2012
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Ah, the railgun. Previously a flight of fancy fit only for wars in works of science fiction, the ultimate in electromagnetic weaponry is one step closer to becoming a reality for the US Navy. We've seen the system working well in the lab, but Raytheon has just gotten $10 million to create the pulse-forming network needed to get a railgun flinging projectiles off the deck of a Naval warship. Making such a network isn't easy, as it must store massive amounts of energy in a small enough package that it can be "used in a modular and versatile way for multiple platforms" -- so that some day, even dinghies will have 33-megajoule stopping power on board. In addition to Raytheon's pulse-forming framework project, the Navy has already tasked BAE and General Atomics to design tactical technologies that'll get future railguns firing up to ten rounds per minute. When can we expect to see such kinetic weapons on the high seas? The goal is 2025, but naturally, finances and politics will dictate its date of deployment, so keep your fingers crossed it's sooner, rather than later.

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