BAE to develop navy railgun

BAE Systems has been awarded two contracts for the development of an electro-magnetic gun system capable of deployment on board navy ships.

The development work includes a $9.3 million contract from the US Office of Naval Research (ONR) to develop technologies and preliminary design for an Electro-Magnetic (EM) railgun prototype and a $5.4M contract from Naval Special Warfare Center-Dahlgren for the design and fabrication of the US Navy’s 32 megajule (MJ) Laboratory Launcher.

An electro-magnetic railgun uses electrical energy to accelerate projectiles to extreme velocities. Railguns do not require powders or explosives to fire the round and free magazine space for other mission areas. In addition, electro-magnetic guns are said to provide a highly consistent and uniform explosive charge that gives much greater accuracy.

BAE Systems was selected by ONR to advance to the next phase of the Innovative Naval Prototype Program. Under this 30-month phase, BAE Systems will take the Electro-Magnetic Railgun technologies through technology maturation and develop a preliminary design of a 32-MJ EM Railgun. Thirty-two megajule is equivalent to a firing speed of Mach 8 or eight times the speed of sound. This will be an intermediate step on the road to a 64-MJ Tactical System capable of deployment on-board naval surface combatant ships.

The design and fabrication of the 32-MJ Laboratory Launcher will serve as a major step towards development of a full-scale tactical EM Gun weapon system for the US Navy.

BAE Systems will execute these contracts in conjunction with partners IAP Research, Inc, Dayton, Ohio and Science Applications International Corporation, Vienna, Virginia.