Navy set to deploy rail guns, laser prototypes

Navy set to deploy rail guns, laser prototypes

The U.S. Navy’s Science and Technology community is deploying prototypes of electromagnetic rail guns, solid-state laser weapons and underwater unmanned vehicles in operational units with sailors and Marines, senior service leaders said April.

“These prototypes are shifting the game in our favor. We can no longer spend huge dollars on systems — they must be very reliable, very affordable and very effective.  It is about developing disruptive technologies that can be hugely effective and hugely affordable,” Rear Adm. Matthew L. Klunder, Chief of Naval Research, Office of Naval Research (ONR), said at the National Defense Industrial Association’s 14th Annual Science & Engineering Technology Conference/Defense Tech Exposition, National Harbor, Md.

A ship-mounted electromagnetic rail gun is one such prototype being tested on Navy vessels, Klunder said.

The rail gun, which can hit ranges of 100 miles or more, uses electricity stored on the ship to generate a high-speed electromagnetic pulse sufficient to propel a kinetic energy warhead.  The result, is an inexpensive, high-impact and long-range offensive weapon, Klunder said.

“Electromagnetics have been around for a long time. How do you harness them and build the rails? We’re big fans of learning how to prototype these technologies for military applications,” he added. “We’ve fired this numerous times through testing. This is showing incredible results, so much so that we are very committed to this for the future.”

The rail gun’s hyper-velocity projectile can also be fired from standard Navy 5-inch guns as well as 155mm Howitzers, Klunder added.

The Navy is also testing several prototypes of a fully-autonomous, long-endurance land launched unmanned undersea vehicle (UUV), the large displacement UUV (LDUUV).

The idea is to deliver persistent undersea sensing capability while exploring technological avenues for increased energy density to prolong the LDUUV’s endurance and mission capabilities.

Klunder also highlighted the testing, development and deployment of the Navy’s Laser Weapons System (LaWS), a high-energy, solid-state next-generation directed energy or “laser” weapon to go early next year on board the USS Ponce.

The idea is deploy a low-cost, high-energy effective offensive and defensive weapon against a range of potential threats, including drones, fast-attack boats and what is referred to as small boat swarm attacks wherein large numbers of small watercraft attack simultaneously.

“My challenge is we’ve got to be better at developing great sophisticated systems . Let’s develop something that gives us a cost advantage over our adversary,” he added.

Join the Conversation

Can they put a laser weapon on the LCS? It might even redeem the platform from being a liability in combat to actually being able to contribute something?

Re-check your calendar, it’s 2013, not 2003… The LCS wasn’t meant as a front-line battle ship…but. it’s an excellent platform for both troop movements, and as a testbed for emerging technologies…and, as a “drone”/UAV / UUV platform, with switchable mission packages, it’s also ideal…But keep spreading the doubt, it’s good mis-information…

Guess you haven’t had a chance to learn about the LCS.

It is still 2013 for sure. LCS is still a waste of money in any year.

“The rail gun’s hyper-velocity projectile can also be fired from standard Navy 5-inch guns as well as 155mm Howitzers, Klunder added.”

The ERGM successor, LRLAP projectile comes in a Zumwalt-only Advanced Gun System “155mm” (different projectile than the Army’s 155mm artillery shell) flavor and a 5″ 127mm flavor.

Not a rail gun. Rocket-assisted, base-bleed, extended range projectile. Range is probably closer to 60 miles.

Oh, c’mon, Poboy, you da genius, edumacate all us dummies about the LCS…
You, too, 2433FO, explain WHY it’s a waste of money…
Or are you guys just armchair admirals…???…
Really, I think the trimaran hull of the Independence-class just scares you little surrender monkeys…

Because it has no working modules, as in it can’t fulfill the roles of the ships it is supposed to be replacing. The base hull wound up 100% over cost. It’s not as survivable as the FFGs it’s replacing. It’s selling point of swapping out modules quickly has been written off as not possible. The modules proposed surface warfare and MCM don’t meet requirements at all.

I thought plans for such a projectile in the 5″ caliber were cancelled?

LCS is a piece of crap that is rusting apart and they can’t keep it running. It looks good on paper but it sucks in application.

Didn’t know that.

Random BAE brochure:

…thank-YOU, blight, for the active link posting…

Well, in that nobody wanted to ‘replace’ the FFG’s (which, BTW, are actually “FF“s since there is no “G” involved), here came the LCS to fill the gap albeit poorly. The “module upgrade” concept has been around since the early 70’s (DD 963 class) and sooner or later, hopefully, someone is going to figure out that it just isn’t that easy. The LCS is, admittedly, a compromise not unlike the small gunboats or the 60’s and, more recently, the “Storm” class, jack-of-all-trades, master– of-none small combattants.

To be totally accurate FFGs were “G’s” when commissioned but the missiles were later removed. The missiles and support systems worked well enough but their limited capability was not worth the cost to maintain/upgrade them so they were removed.

Actually, the 155mm LRLAP program is being run from an Army base and is intended to be able to be used by Army artillery as well.

This is quite possibly the most off point article on military technology I have ever read.

The author is clearly confusing the Advanced Gun System (AGS), a rocket assisted projectile scheduled to deploy within the next few years with the railgun, an entirely different weapon system that is in the preliminary phase of development.

This mistake and this article are PATHETIC. Anyone who is knowledgeable on these topics would agree.

“The rail gun’s —-hyper-velocity projectile—- can also be fired from standard Navy 5-inch guns as well as 155mm Howitzers, …”-hyper-velocity projectile-.… at 4,500 mph to 5,600 mph. .…to develop thermal management systems for both the launcher and pulsed power to facilitate increased firing rates of up to 10 rounds per minute.…General Atomics, BAE Systems and Raytheon Co. to develop a pulsed power system capable of meeting the firing rate goal. .32-megajoule weapon that shoots a distance 100 nautical miles. ..Advanced thermal management techniques for long (10-meter), slender metal rail structures
..the DDG-51 Flight IIA ships have a reported total power output of 7.5 MW. Currently the DDG 51 main propulsion and ship service configuration consists of four GE LM2500 aeroderivative gas turbines and three ship service turbine-generators, .. .http://​www​.dtic​.mil/​n​d​i​a​/​2​0​1​1​n​a​v​y​/​M​c​C​o​y​.​pdf…E.M. railgun with 30Mw available in 2020.
…one LM-2500+ generator set provides 29Mw at ISO…USS TRUXTUN (DDG 103) Hybrid Electric Drive (HED) and USS PREBLE (DDG 88) Energy Storage Module (ESM)…


What’s is there to learn, it cann’t survive combat. Any war ship that cann’t survive combat is useless.

Sure, as long as it doesn’t have to absorb a hit of any kind

The rear admiral is obviously a moron, he talks like a 14 year old.

“developing disruptive technologies that can be hugely effective and hugely affordable”

He talks the “Silicon Valley VC” blahblah. Didn’t realize we were giving them admiral’s stars.

“Can they put a laser weapon on the LCS?”

It’s got the deck space, but why?

The LRLAP projectile is > 2 meters long. Can such a projectile be fired by standard 155mm guns?

There isn’t much to stop them from designing extended range rounds for the 155mm if the AGS-LRLAP is not compatible. It just won’t deliver quite the same range, which is acceptable if you are a ground artillery unit much closer to the fight.

I’ve heard him speak and he is a very bright guy. Cherry picking the soundbites
for the article makes him sound moronic.

They are quite a ways away from being able to put it on an LCS due to power requirements

Not saying that VC guys aren’t brilliant: they usually are. It’s just that I read VentureBeat and FastCompany when I want to see that lingo, and seeing it appear from the mouths of the military is still a bit new to me. They may even listen to TED talks in the Pentagon’s gym…

And of course, either the ADM mixed up his LRLAP and his rail gun or the reporter did. Without minutes, I have to choose who is most likely to have made the error, and then find the primary information myself.

Yes, they can put LAWS on an LCS. It’s a relatively low-power system, and it could sit in one of the sockets for the Mk44s or potentially in the empty box that was to contain NLOS-LS.

They admiral is talking a bit ahead of himself here, but he’s essentially saying the Hypervelocity “dart” fired by a railgun could/would also be fitted to other guns’ rocket-assisted rounds in the future.

LaWS is very low-power, they used a standard CAT portable generator to juice it during sea trials. LCS actually has a decent amount of power available, and plenty of space for a portable generator if need be.

God, I HOPE they listen to SOME “TED” talks sometimes…That’s the FUTURE, you old bilge rats…
Considering the PATHETIC ROI of Afghanistan, and especially Iraq2, we need all the techno-edge we can get…

I like that,hee, hee.

I thought it was alumnium?

one 155mm willie pete direct hit & o’boy, this ground pounder just doesn’t get it!

roger that!, fewer cotton bags, less range.…its just that simple!

ROI in A-stan.…ha.….thats a joke!

I saw that video of the “laser weapons system” frying the RPV.……it seemed 2 me to be moving aweful slow, does anyone know what its airspeed was. The nk’s have old surplus U.S. Military target drones that seem 2 me to move at least twice the speed! U guy’s have to help out this old ground pounder.… seemed almost like that nk video of that target drone being launched, then u see a hill side with a bulls eye, and w/o seening the drone at all they set off a subsurface blast to make it appear 2 be a direct hit!.……I hope this is the real deal & not some subterfuge to garner more r&d $$$$$

Well, many members of the military bought into Toffler and the Third Wave in the ‘80s, then thought the Third Wave of information would dominate physical space such that airplanes with bombs would substitute for physical presence.

Fair enough.

Then again, the AGS round is one unit, so it’ll be fired as such without charge bags. The next question is recoil management. It might mostly be rocket and base-bleed, which would mean more acceptable recoil that will allow the LRLAP to be fired from a standard artillery piece.

The railgun dart is engineered to be low-drag and high density to penetrate targets flying at high velocity. I’m curious as to its efficacy at lower velocities, especially as KE is proportional to the square of velocity, halving the velocity drops KE by 75%.

25% the energy of a railgun might be enough for the job at hand…?

A “rail gun” is a railroad car mounted howitzer or other large gun, like the German Big Bertha in World War I. This is the historical definition, you can just bend the English language to suit your taste for mondern technology. CDR JAGC USNR

The US Navy has the advantage of a ships power system to make this stuff work. I am curious if the LASER is really a solid state laser (like a laser diode on steriods) or a chemical laser? The rail gun projectile will never be used in a 5 Inch or 155 mm gun, that is a miss quote. The rail gun projectile will be similar to the sabot round from the M1 tank 120mm in shape only, no chemical propellant will be used to force it out the barrel.

My question is about the ability of a laser to defend against the new ‘swarm’ threat… I understand how the laser can take out one individual small boat for example, but how does it take out say 30 of them quickly? supposing in this case example: 30 small unmanned suicide boats approach from 360′ all around, they are detected and it will take 5 minutes for them to ‘hit’. This means you need to take out one boat every 6 seconds with a 1 to 1 kill ratio. Is this possible ??

How can they be “suicide boats”, if they are UNMANNED…???… aren’t they called “torpedoes”…???…
You never seen a demonstration of a full-auto CWIZ SWEEPER…???…

While the railroad car mounted artillery were called “Rail Guns” at the time, the use of “Rail Gun” for this technology is fairly well established in both the military and industry. This is far from the first time that two very different things shared the same name.

Finally someone who is at least saying the right things. The Navy doesn’t need to wait until these technologies are perfect to field them. They are good enough now. Get them on the ships, now. As many of the Army guys I know are fond of saying, “don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.”

I thought the “FFG’s” were missile boats, thus the “G” on the abbreviation, Frigate or Fast Frigate, Guided Missile. If I am wrong let me know. I do not believe that the Navy has had an all gun FF since my days in the Navy and they were then phasing out the all gun DD’s, DDE’s, DDL’s, and FF’s. platforms. I left the Navy in ’78, my last duty station was located on NWC China Lake, CA.

As-salaamu ‘alaikum / Peace be with you
Einheit mit Vielfalt
LPN/ret, HM2(FMF)/USN, Sgt/USAR, ACM/olc, CWVet, VNeVet, GWVet, DAV/VFW Life Member

Time to build a new Battleship for the 21st Century.

@Bradford yes the Close in Weapon Systems are good such as the GoalKeeper etc, however im referring to these new railguns and lasers, will they be able to track and kill targets in less then 5 seconds per target ? Can they shoot 30 shots ever 5 secs without overheating, can the turret move fast enough? Looking at the old Goalkeeper, it apparently could track upto 18 targets with an average time from detection to kill of 5.5 seconds, this does not necessarily it can move to the next target and shoot at it 5,5 seconds later? With regards to the suicide un-manned boats, I guess I should have called them a swarm of suicide USV’s (unmanned surface vehicle).

Good point.

I’d like to see them slap a couple of these solid-state laser systems on a modified JHSV as a test platform. Bolt-on and integrate a sufficient off-the-shelf radar suite? Put that contract out for tender. See who can whip up the most economical solution, USN might be surprised. Top off with an oto melera 127mm gun and maybe an 8-pack of LRASM. That would be some respect.

The weapon systems are still in the “DEVELOPMENTAL” stage and this almost smacks as disinformation to scare would be adversaries off of future confrontations such as the coastal waters in the Mid East.

These are destructive weapons! I mean even though they are still prototypes, at least they are working now. Try them on some military missions. It’s costly though but I know for sure these weapons will come in handy someday. But can they find a way in putting these things in a tank?

To answer your question, Lillian, “Yes, “they” ARE!”.…*BUT*, what you think of as a “tank” is an essentially obsolete battlefield weapon…Even the 70-TON M2 Abrams tank needs a “TUSK” — an upgraded armor package known as “Tank Urban Survival Kit”, to remain even somewhat viable…Trust me, Lillian, our enemies are FAR MORE knowledgeable about U.S. weapons systems, than you seem to be…Hey, no offense meant…MOST of what you want to know can easily be found on Wikipedia — go check them out.…
The weapons are one thing, but what wins wars is the TROOPS…yes, we DO have some problems in the Military, such as sexual assault & other crimes, but OVERALL, the men & women — straight and gay — of the U.S.Military are truly the BEST in the WORLD…Both “youtube”, and “military​.com” have many excellent videos of our troops in action all over the world…as do the many “.mil” & “.gov” websites…please, spend a few hours and go look for yourself…


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