US NRL commissions experimental small-bore railgun

14 April 2014 (Last Updated April 14th, 2014 18:30)

The US Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) has commissioned the new small-bore railgun (SRG) at its materials testing facility.

The Small Railgun (SRG),

The US Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) has commissioned the new small-bore railgun (SRG) at its materials testing facility.

Commissioned through support from the Office of Naval Research (ONR), the SRG is a single-turn linear motor.

NRL's charged-particle physics branch head Dr Robert Meger said: "This small railgun is an experimental platform for a small-bore system that could address modest power for land and sea based missions.

"The SRG is designed to operate at several launches per minute from a mobile platform using advanced battery technology."

In October 2011 NRL researchers fired the one-thousandth shot from the larger experimental electromagnetic railgun, marking a critical milestone in the programme.

Then, in February 2012, the US Navy outlined its plan to start a full-size prototype testing at its facility in Dahlgren, Virginia, US.

The navy's electromagnetic railgun development programme is intended to develop a 6m-long, 50mm-diameter and 64-MJ weapon with a range of 220nm.

"The SRG is designed to operate at several launches per minute from a mobile platform using advanced battery technology."

Managed by the Naval Air Warfare and Weapons Department, it features advanced composites and fires projectiles using electricity with improved barrel life performance.

It creates a magnetic field via high electrical currents, which accelerate a sliding metal conductor, or armature, between two rails to launch projectiles at speeds of 4,500mph to 5,600mph.

It will support a wide range of missions, including precise-surface fire support or land strikes and cruise and ballistic missile defences.


Image: The small railgun (SRG), located at the US Naval Research Laboratory materials testing facility. Photo: courtesy of US Naval Research Laboratory/Jamie Hartman.

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