Members of TTAG’s Armed Intelligentsia may not be surprised to read the above headline re: the Navy’s test of their new railgun system, originally scheduled for 2106. “Plans for the at-sea demonstration remain in place,” defensenews.com reports, “but it’s looking more likely that a test using an expeditionary fast transport (EPF) — the new designation for JHSVs — won’t take place at least until 2017, if at all.” Rear Adm. Pete Fanta is not happy about delaying his new ship to accommodate an experimental railgun . .
“It’s not definitely off but it’s not definitely going ahead,” Fanta said, “primarily because it will slow the engineering work that I have to do to get that power transference that I need to get multiple repeatable shots that I can now install in a ship. And I would frankly rather have an operational unit faster than have to take the nine months to a year it will take to set up the demo and install the systems, take the one operational [rail gun] unit I have, put it on a ship, take it to sea, do a dozen shots, turn around, take it off, reinstall it into a test bed.” . . .
The goal, he said, is to make the projectile “usable for more than just rail gun. Can I take my powder guns and use that same sort of projectile?” The technology in the projectile, he added, “actually is what enables it to fly that distance with that accuracy.”
Who knew? It seems Fanta’s thought this through.
“My old gun barrels used to last me a few thousand rounds. Is that still the way we want to go? Other countries are solving it the other way. Maybe if I carry four barrels and have them easily swapped out with a bunch of bosun’s mates on the foc’sle and stick ‘em in and a half-turn and you go. It’s kind of the way we do it when we overheat machine guns. The new machine guns, you got the old barrel, you stick in a new one and you keep shooting. Maybe that’s the way to go if we can’t solve the metallurgy issues that allow me to do 1,000 rounds out of a barrel.”
Meanwhile . . .
And while NAVSEA is working on how a rail gun system would be installed on the [destroyer Lyndon B.] Johnson, Fanta is also looking for a bigger test range to shoot the rail gun, now at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Dahlgren, Virginia. One possibility, he acknowledged is the huge White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.
“I need to be able to see how this thing — for both the projectile and the gun — how it shoots at full range, which means I need both elevation and altitude and long range where I can go blow the top off a mountain someplace and not worry about someone fishing around somewhere.
Good point and great visuals.