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“The Senate Armed Services Committee on Friday voted to eliminate funding for two of the Navy’s still-in-development guns: the free electron laser, essentially a super-powered death ray, and the railgun, which shoots bullets powered not by explosions, but by energy,” reports. “The Navy had planned to incorporate these sci-fi weapons in a revamped fleet of the future, and asked for $60 million to continue research and development. Those plans may have to change, following the tersely worded cuts — unveiled on Page 21 of a lengthy press release outlining the Senate’s completion of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012.” Let the lobbying begin! Again. Still.

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  1. Well, directed energy weapons are neat, but not at all practical. Especially something like BHEE (beams of high-energy electrons) or traditional lasers. Free electron lasers are probably the best application of directed energy weapons, but even then there are some serious obstacles (like beam attenuation, atmospheric opacity, energy requirements). I am not surprised that they intend to abandon the technology.

    Railguns, on the other hand, are a great idea for large naval craft. Energy requirements are not, overall, that large, the projectiles are non-explosive (simple formed pieces of aluminum), can take advantage of existing installed infrastructure (turrets, ammunition feeds) and can be scaled up or down for specific tasks (anti-missile/aircraft, long-range bombardment). The range can be astounding, and the muzzle velocity is almost unbelievable (up to and surpassing 3,500 m/s). This decision surprises me. Warships are a very good platform for railguns. The only major hurdle is waste heat (and there is a lot of it). The wiki page on the weaponization tests.

    Well, guess we will just have to wait a little longer for the future.

    • +1 on the rail gun, Mouldy Squid. That type of weapon is a game-changer and a step up in ship safety (no explosive powder necessary). But in the current economic climate, I guess everyone needs to make sacrifices.

  2. That “ray gun” looks a bit too much like the Nambu Model 14, which was manufactured for the sole purpose of making Glocks look handsome.


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