Railgun Projectile Development Passes Critical Tests

June 23, 2015

Seapower Magazine:

General Atomics’ Electromagnetic Systems (GA-EMS) announced in a June 22 release that projectiles with on-board electronics survived the railgun launch environment and performed their intended functions in four consecutive tests on June 9 and 10 June at the U.S. Army’s Dugway Proving Ground in Utah.

The week of test activity included marking the 100th successful launch from the GA-EMS’ 3-megajoule Blitzer electromagnetic railgun.

“This is a significant milestone in the technology development toward a railgun weapon system and marks the first time flight dynamics data have been successfully measured and down-linked from an aerodynamic projectile fired from our railgun on an open test range,” Nick Bucci, vice president of Missile Defense Systems at GA Electromagnetic Systems Group, said in the release. “GA-EMS’ successful testing and on-going investment to advance our scalable railgun and projectile technologies illustrates our commitment to mature this transformational weapon system and provide the warfighter multi-mission advantages across several platforms.”

During the week of testing, the electronics on-board the projectiles successfully measured in-bore accelerations and projectile dynamics, for several kilometers downrange, with the integral data link continuing to operate after the projectiles impacted the desert floor. On-board measurement of flight dynamics is essential for precision guidance. The test projectiles were launched at accelerations over 30,000 times that of gravity and were exposed to the full electromagnetic environment of the railgun launch.

The Blitzer railgun is a test asset designed and manufactured by GA-EMS to advance technology development toward multi-mission weapon systems. Railguns launch projectiles using electromagnetic forces instead of chemical propellants and can deliver muzzle velocities greater than twice those of conventional guns. Blitzer railgun technology, when integrated into a weapon system that includes the launcher, high density capacitor driven pulsed power, and weapon fire control system, can launch multi-mission projectiles with shorter time-to-target and greater effectiveness at longer range.

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