Military Embedded Systems

General Atomics delivers, Navy tests second iteration of Electromagnetic Railgun


October 11, 2012

Alice Moss

Military Embedded Systems

The Office of Naval Research (ONR) recently received the second prototype of the Electromagnetic (EM) Railgun. Having issued two contracts for the same technology to both General Atomics and BAE Systems to reduce program risk, the Navy is having engineers at its Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC), Dahlgren Division, conduct an array of tests very much like the tests conducted on BAE Systems’ version of the prototype demonstrator that was delivered in January.

The mission of the long-range EM Railgun launcher is to fire projectiles without traditional propellants such as chemicals. Instead, the EM Railgun launcher will utilize high electrical current-induced magnetic fields, which will accelerate an armature between a duo of rails. The resulting projectile speed is estimated at 4,500 to 5,600 mph.

Both companies are now starting next-gen concept designs work for the EM Railgun, with a focus on faster firing rates. Specifically, they will focus on the barrel’s thermal management systems and also on automatic projectile loading systems’ design.

The concept designs will be evaluated at year’s end.

For a video showing the BAE Systems iteration delivered earlier this year, go to:


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