Raytheon will Develop power system for U.S. Railgun
February 3, 2012
February 3, 2012
The US Navy may have the world’s most powerful electromagnetic gun – the so-called railgun – during the forthcoming 15 years. The “Weapon of the 21st Century,” as Russian specialists described it, was undergoing tests during the recent several years. US defense officials were satisfied with the results. They have already signed the first contract to create the power source for the gun. The railgun needs a lot of energy to accelerate projectiles to supersonic speeds.
Raytheon Company, one of the USA’s largest defense suppliers, signed an agreement with the Naval Sea Systems Command for the creation of the power system for the railgun. The agreement was evaluated at $10 billion, a message on the website of the company said.
In accordance with the agreement, Raytheon undertakes to design and build the power module, which will become a part of the Pulse Forming Network (PFN). In the future, the system can be used for the production of railguns and combat lasers.
“This new system will dramatically change how our Navy defends itself and engages enemies while at sea,” said Joe Biondi, vice president of Advanced Technology for Raytheon’s Integrated Defense Systems business. “We have the expertise to design and build a solution that provides our warfighters with a decisive advantage over a multitude of current and emerging threats.”
A railgun is an entirely electrical gun that accelerates a conductive projectile along a pair of metal rails using the same principles as the homopolar motor. Railguns use two sliding or rolling contacts that permit a large electric current to pass through the projectile. This current interacts with the strong magnetic fields generated by the rails and this accelerates the projectile. Particular characteristics are the lack of propellant (only the projectile and the electrical energy to launch it are required to be expended) and the ability to launch projectiles much faster than firearms-based technology allows.
Railguns have long existed as experimental and demonstrator technology. However, in recent years, some are moving towards becoming feasible military technology. For example, in the late 2000s, the U.S. Navy tested a railgun that accelerates a 3.2 kg (7 pound) projectile to approximately 2.4 kilometres per second (5,400 mph). They gave the project the Latin motto “Velocitas Eradico”, which they translate as “Speed Destroys”.
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