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An older 8-megajoule U.S. Navy railgun.  (Source: Office of Naval Research)

BAE's new 32-megajoule functional railgun ups the firepower and includes a nice looking barrel.  (Source: Office of Naval Research)

The 32-megajoule gun will require massive capacitors to store enough power to fire a slug.  (Source: Office of Naval Research)
BAE's new BFG 32-megajoule railgun annihilates its competitors

Like some super weapon from a video game, BAE's 32-megajoule Electro-Magnetic Laboratory Rail Gun (32-MJ LRG) design juts prominently into the air, its massive barrel letting everyone know that it means business.

While rail guns still are far from being used in practical warfare, BAE has been continuously laboring to slowly transform this fantastic premise into reality.  BAE, known for its fighting vehicles such as the Bradley, is one of the foremost pioneers in high-tech weaponry.  Recently the company debuted a semi-autonomous version of its Bradley fighting vehicle, known as the Black Knight.

The company has also been hard at work researching how to create a railgun that packs a serious punch.

Earlier this year General Atomics, a rival research company, demonstrated a 8-megajoule railgun, which fired shells at Mach 7.  Until now 9-megajoule railguns were the most powerful models in existence.

BAE is looking to blow these "peashooters" away after it announced a railgun four times more powerful.  A functional prototype of its railgun has been delivered to the
U.S. Naval Surface Warfare Center in Dahlgren, Va. and is currently being installed at the Center.
The Navy plans to install special capacitors to fuel the beast's appetite for destruction.

The device operates similarly to previous railguns, using electric force to propel a nonexplosive solid projectile along a series of magnetic rails.  The device requires a staggering 3 million amps of power to fire.

Incredibly, the device is only the initial offering from BAE.  It hopes to soon meet the Navy's goal of a 64-megajoule weapon capable of being mounted on a warship.  Such a weapon would draw a current of approximately 6 million amps.

With such high power requirements, such a design is technically feasible when placed on a nuclear-powered vessel. 
Dr. Amir Chaboki, program manager for Electro-Magnetic Rail Guns at BAE Systems, states, "The power is available. The challenge is how you use it." 

Chaboki believes the ideal ship platform would be the Navy's electrically propelled
DDG 100 Destroyer, which has an operating power of 72 MW, approximately. 

One challenge is that the destructive force and mechanics of the device can easily damage the gun in its current state.  A few shots can dislodge the rails or even damage the gun barrel.

BAE is constantly improving upon its designs, though and sees the 32-megajoule cannon as a key milestone in its goal of deploying a 64-megajoule cannon, on ship, within 13 years or less.  Such a cannon would be able to fire at speeds in excess of Mach 7 at targets as far as 220 miles away using cheap metal slugs.  Such a cannon could unleash a silent deadly barrage that would hit the enemy harder and would give less warning than a traditional missile strike.

For now there are great technical obstacles that need to be overcome in making the gun hardy enough to withstand multiple firings in a deployment system and be able to efficiently manage the tremendous power it needs.  However, that takes nothing away from BAE's moment of glory as the creator of the first 32-megajoule railgun, undisputedly the most powerful projectile weapon in existence.

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EE opinions please...
By jskirwin on 11/27/2007 2:51:34 PM , Rating: 2
It would seem worth having something throw something else long distances at very high velocities. However...

1. The ship mentioned generates 70mw. What's that translate to amps?

2. What kind of electrical power source would that thing require?

3. How big are the slugs they are throwing?

4. Could you scale it down to a rifle, because if you could, that would be really, really cool...

RE: EE opinions please...
By eilersr on 11/27/2007 3:19:45 PM , Rating: 6
Actually, I was just doing some calculations along those lines. It's really mind-boggling (at least to a guy use to thinking in terms of nA and mV).

Joules measure energy. Watts are a measure of power (or energy per unit time). Amps measure current (not power, as the article mentions).
Typically defined:
1 Watt = 1 Volt * 1 AMP
1 Watt = 1 Joule / 1 sec.

The article mentions 3 million amps and 32MJ(=32MW*s). This implies that the 70MW generator can produce the 32MJ of energy in just under a half-second if all the power was dedicated to running the gun (which it's not). Assuming the ship took 50-75% of the generator load to run, that leaves 17.5-35MW for the gun, which means it would take 1-2 seconds to store up enough energy to run the gun.

I don't know what voltage a ship runs on, but let's assume (perhaps incorrectly) that it was 120VAC. Since it's AC it's a bit tricker due to power factors, types of loading etc., but let's pretend all that goes away and 120VAC = ~85V RMS (just multiply by (square-root of 2)/2). That would imply that 70MW / 85V RMS = ~823 kA RMS.

Obviously, 823 kA is a lot less than 3MA, and that's where the capacitors come in. The energy is stored up in the caps and then released in a very short amount of time to produce 3MA to power the gun.

Now after going through all of that, I wouldn't be surprised if I made an error some where. Been a while since I've thought about AC power, etc.

What I'd like to know is what voltage is being used on the rails, how strong the field is, but most of all how the hell are they handling the heat?

RE: EE opinions please...
By rcc on 11/27/2007 4:03:34 PM , Rating: 4
In general, shipboard power is available in 110/220/440, single or three phase. I suspect that this would be stepped up a bit in the power supply/converter for a rail gun.
At 110v, 3 million amps is approx 330 MW. Yes, there are conversion losses, etc. I'm just figuring DC (which, yes, I know the 110v isn't) as AC would create some interesting issues with the magnets.

RE: EE opinions please...
By Chernobyl68 on 11/28/2007 12:39:18 PM , Rating: 2
The Navy has been pushing for advanced electrical systems for quite a while. In short, they want to be "star trek" and be able to shift power from propulsion to weapons, electrically. Carriers would use electric instead of steam catapults. So the large electrical generating systems are needed. 70MW is far more than the electrical generating ability of any current navy ship - most power is converted diretly for propulsion via turbines (whether steam or gas)
Given the amount of power generated by this proposed class, I can almost guarantee the generation voltage will be much higher than 450v.

RE: EE opinions please...
By erikejw on 11/28/2007 3:39:57 PM , Rating: 2
I'd be interested how good the targeting is?
Will it be better than the SCUDS that had problems of hitting a city.

Seems very hard to hit anything with that speed.
7 Mach and the trajectory will be very low and 0.1 degrees off and it misses its target with miles.

RE: EE opinions please...
By rcc on 11/28/2007 5:00:34 PM , Rating: 2
I'd be interested how good the targeting is?

One of the joys of the incredibly high muzzle velocities is that, within limits, you can treat it as a line of sight weapon. At longer ranges you'd want some form of terminal guidance, ie laser designator, GPS, etc.

RE: EE opinions please...
By Chernobyl68 on 11/28/2007 6:18:27 PM , Rating: 3
also the kinetic energy this delivers imparts a tremendus impact energy. Eventually this will scale up to Iowa-class craters.

RE: EE opinions please...
By LogicallyGenius on 11/29/2007 3:20:35 AM , Rating: 2
With 220 miles range satellites will be the most lucrative targets.

RE: EE opinions please...
By Triring on 11/29/2007 9:29:17 AM , Rating: 2
Since the projectile is magnetically induced, going through the ionosphere greatly hampers the trajectory of the projectile making it useless aiming at satellites.

RE: EE opinions please...
By Sureshot324 on 11/29/2007 10:53:44 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, but if the projectile was equipped with a rocket engine, the railgun could be used to hurl it into orbit, and then the rocket could guide it to the satalite.

RE: EE opinions please...
By S3anister on 12/2/2007 4:40:51 AM , Rating: 2
That would defeat the purpose of a railgun entirely.

RE: EE opinions please...
By AntDX316 on 12/3/2007 1:44:05 PM , Rating: 2
nope because the target acquisition for the enemy to send a counter to the missle would be far less its like having Nos by the time u reach the finish ur opponent didnt even pass 5 feet of the start line

RE: EE opinions please...
By rcc on 11/28/2007 5:05:50 PM , Rating: 2
Perhaps. However, except for special purposes such as a rail gun, and radars, etc., distribution throughout the ship would still be at the more common voltages. Along with practicality, there are safety and insulation penalties associated with piping 1kV or 10kV through the ship, and no real need.

RE: EE opinions please...
By Chernobyl68 on 11/28/2007 6:25:14 PM , Rating: 2
Special frequencys and voltages for radars are typically provided by dedicated motor-generator sets.
Most Navy ships (450V) use an ungrounded distribution system. You are correct though, at higher voltages the cable insulation can act as giant capacitors and give someone nasty shocks. High voltage generation simply means you need step down transformers just as the civilian electrical grid does.

RE: EE opinions please...
By Polynikes on 11/27/2007 6:03:23 PM , Rating: 2
They probably are planning on dragging the caps behind the boat in the ocean. The world's largest watercooling implementation!

On another note, railguns have no recoil, right? So if their targeting systems were good enough, they could fire that thing on the move, right?

RE: EE opinions please...
By czarchazm on 11/27/2007 6:18:29 PM , Rating: 2
no,Polynikes, no recoil. Modern warships have inertial dampening systems that allow the force to be eliminated when accelerating the slugs.

RE: EE opinions please...
By shamgar03 on 11/27/2007 6:25:58 PM , Rating: 5
Unfortunately not. Recoil is really only decided by the mass of the object being accelerated, and how much it is accelerated. Even though the projectile gets pushed off the ship in a different way, its still getting pushed off. For second I thought you were right, but to have no recoil would mean that newtons 3rd law was not applied, which it is (its a law).

Could someone some up the actual benefits of rail guns? I mean we can already launch projectiles a long ways with the cannons on destroyers. Its not like the person who gets hit can hear the cannon shot either.

RE: EE opinions please...
By splint on 11/27/2007 6:55:06 PM , Rating: 2
The nice thing about a rail gun is that you don’t experience the recoil until about the time your target experiences the bullet.

Armor piercing by non explosive rounds is usually done by propelling slugs of higher density at armor of lower density. The densities are pretty much given. It’s usually depleted uranium rounds vs. steel armor. The variable you can play with is impact velocity. This is where the Mach 7 comes in. Also, high velocity round are less susceptible to the atmosphere, fly at a less extreme parabola, and require less compensation for the Coriolis effect.

RE: EE opinions please...
By NEOCortex on 11/28/2007 12:27:16 PM , Rating: 4
The nice thing about a rail gun is that you don’t experience the recoil until about the time your target experiences the bullet.

and how exactly does that happen??

Recoil is going to happen the instant you start to accelerate the projectile up until the point where no more energy is given to it by the gun, which may or may not be at the very end of the barrel. The recoil advantage over explosive type guns is that railguns can have a more gradual acceleration. Gradual acceleration = less recoil

RE: EE opinions please...
By Wightout on 11/28/2007 4:26:22 PM , Rating: 1
I think what he is getting at is that the shell would be traveling so fast that you and the target would be feeling the impact "almost" at the same time... Mach 7 is rather fast...

By mmcdonalataocdotgov on 11/29/2007 7:56:06 AM , Rating: 2
I doubt they would be pushing these rounds out against discreet armoured targets. More likely installations. So the mass would be critical for overcoming hardened bunkers etc.

One benefit of this sort of system is that it is also veeeery easy to regulate the thrust, as opposed to powder charges. Therefore you can do neat things like fire a round with low thrust along a high arc, fire a second round with more thrust along a lower arc, etc, and fire the last round with full thrust along a flat trajectory, and they all hit the target at the same time. Neat-0.

RE: EE opinions please...
By Calin on 11/28/2007 7:55:48 AM , Rating: 3
Actual benefits of a rail gun?
Range. If a rail gun is able to shoot 200 miles from a destroyer, the best guns in existence with rocket assist have a range under 50 miles.
Speed. This slug reaches its target 10 times faster than a cruise missile.
No magazine. An electrical ship will have a big bank of capacitors, able to blow up. Even so, it can't compare against the blowing up of the magazine (thousands of shells, and their propelling charges for big guns). A magazine hit and the ship goes down with all hands. A capacitor bank hit and the ship will limp home.
Ships won't load highly explosive ammo and propelling charges - this can make port visits shorter (fuel can be loaded on the way from a tanker, ammo can not).
The dinky canons on the destroyers have a range in excess of 13 nautical miles. The great guns on the battleships have a range at 45,000 yards or so

RE: EE opinions please...
By Chernobyl68 on 11/28/2007 12:42:27 PM , Rating: 2
bombs and ammo are regular transferred at sea. There's nothing you can't move from ship to ship in an underway replenishment - there wouldn't be much point to doing an UNREP otherwise. Granted, the vast majority of the ammo is loaded at domestic bases, but you can do a lot with helicopters. (VERTREP)

RE: EE opinions please...
By Chernobyl68 on 11/28/2007 12:43:12 PM , Rating: 2
sorry - "regularly" transferred...

RE: EE opinions please...
By navyfcbragg on 11/29/2007 5:58:11 AM , Rating: 2
Huh? Oh, yeah, ships will load ammo anytime. Underway replenishments (UNREP) will transfer ammo from a supply ship to a combatant all day long via transfer wires rigged between the ships, and a vertical replenishment (VERTREP) will use helicopters to do the same. In fact, I've had the great joy (sarcasm, that sucked big time) to watch one that went on for 19 hours, during the first wave of Enduring Freedom for Afghanistan, while I was aboard an aircraft carrier.

RE: EE opinions please...
By AvidDailyTechie on 11/28/2007 10:41:47 AM , Rating: 2
Could someone some up the actual benefits of rail guns?

I think cost of ammunition would be a major factor.

RE: EE opinions please...
By 91TTZ on 11/28/2007 2:51:22 PM , Rating: 2
The cost per round isn't going to be much less with railgun projectiles.

If it's a guided munition (as seems to be the trend nowadays), it'll still need a guidance system, which comprises most of the cost.

Gunpowder and explosives are cheap, so you won't save much by eliminating them.

RE: EE opinions please...
By clovell on 11/28/2007 2:59:00 PM , Rating: 2
Right, but you won't put a guidance system on every round.

RE: EE opinions please...
By Chernobyl68 on 11/29/2007 12:00:17 PM , Rating: 2
why not? then you'd benefit from mass production!

RE: EE opinions please...
By clovell on 11/29/2007 1:21:58 PM , Rating: 2
Because these things fire slugs - all propulsion occurs in the barrel, unlike a rocket, which propels itself until it hits its target.

RE: EE opinions please...
By Chernobyl68 on 11/30/2007 1:30:39 PM , Rating: 2
I don't understand - how is a guidance system on a bullet different from a guidance system on a bomb? they're both ballistic trajectory (ie, non-propelled) weapons.

RE: EE opinions please...
By 91TTZ on 11/30/2007 3:03:11 PM , Rating: 2
I didn't say they'd use missiles, I said they'd use guided shells. They'd be like LGBs.

RE: EE opinions please...
By ikkeman on 11/28/2007 2:23:22 PM , Rating: 2
The armed forces are already working on incorporating elctronics into shells. The problem obviously beeing the 1000's of g's incurred during the explosive firing. Because an Railgun accellerates it's projecttile more smoothly along the total length of the barrel, the incorporation of electronics becomes much less difficult.

Shooting a spy camera at an high parabola and using that imagery to aim the next 5 shots...

RE: EE opinions please...
By 91TTZ on 11/28/2007 2:59:59 PM , Rating: 2
They've had electronics in shells for the last 60 years. Most AAA had proximity fuses which are electronic.

They even were able to miniaturize atomic bombs and its associated components and get that to withstand the forces of being fired from a cannon.

RE: EE opinions please...
By navyfcbragg on 11/29/2007 5:53:32 AM , Rating: 2
OK, as a former US Navy Firecontrollman, I can answer this. FYI: FC's are the electronics geeks who get to work with the radars, computers, and other things associated with weapons systems.

The amount of damage a projectile can do is related to it's kinetic energy. The faster the projectile, the more damage it will do. Explosives add two factors to that, in that the actual blast provides a different sort of kinetic energy on the target, and if the explosives are contained within the proper container, they also create shrapnel to destroy a target. A railgun will increase the amount of energy released on the target without having to resort to exploding shells. A railgun projectile will do more damage without using explosives or chemical propellants, handsdown.

Second, the fact that the shell will get to the target faster is a bonus. That means that there is less time for the target to detect the projectile in flight and move out of it's way. Surprise always rules.

Third, a railgun increases the effective range of a ship, by a lot. With more energy behind the projectile, it will go farther, letting us hit targets from much farther away.

Hope this helps!

RE: EE opinions please...
By AntDX316 on 12/3/2007 1:55:36 PM , Rating: 2
but if this can hit targets 200 miles straight it can surpass the earths curvature and fly into space

RE: EE opinions please...
By TimTheEnchanter25 on 11/30/2007 4:24:53 PM , Rating: 2
Force = mass x acceleration. The slugs that they use have less mass than normal shells, but the acceleration is greatly increased, which results in a more forceful impact.

The slugs don't need explosives to do more damage than shells or to fire them, so each shot is a lot cheaper (electricity on a nuclear ship is basically free).

I hope that they make this thing self loading, I wouldn't want to be anywhere near it while it was charging, or charged.

RE: EE opinions please...
By djc208 on 11/27/2007 8:24:58 PM , Rating: 3
Most stuff is 440/460 three phase, the other voltages are stepped down from that. Of course if you're building a ship to mount one or more of these it would most likely have it's own generation system for the weapons, in which case you can make it whatever works best.

RE: EE opinions please...
By tjr508 on 11/27/2007 9:18:31 PM , Rating: 2
First off, when you see a 110V, 220, etc outlet, that IS its RMS rating, not peak, not P-P. Secondly, the generated power is definately 3-phase for a large number of reasons including rectifiers. (A rectified ripple voltage of 13% is much better than 100%) Good luck charging a cap with AC power.

RE: EE opinions please...
By eilersr on 11/28/2007 2:19:53 AM , Rating: 2
Thanks for the corrections...I should have checked the facts to determine whether it was peak, p-p or RMS instead of assuming. I intentionally left out the rectification step, but it is good to note that an AC power source won't charge a cap.

Next time, I'll dig out the power EE stuff in all of it's 3-phase glory before posting :)

RE: EE opinions please...
By Chernobyl68 on 11/28/2007 12:45:20 PM , Rating: 2
All electrical power generation for commercial (power plant) or industrial application is 3 phase. homes simply only see 1 phase of it.

RE: EE opinions please...
By monitorjbl on 11/28/2007 10:11:31 AM , Rating: 2
Since it's AC it's a bit tricker due to power factors, types of loading etc., but let's pretend all that goes away and 120VAC = ~85V RMS

Not that I'm saying you are incorrect, but 120 VAC is generally considered to be 120 Volts RMS. Typical household voltage is 170VAC (in the US), and we receive 120 VAC by the grace of the RMS calculation.

As for the heat, your guess is as good as mine, but I'm going to guess that they are using some of those new high-temperature superconducting metals in the magnets and use some kind of liquid gas to cool the things. 3 million amps is a ridiculous amount of current!

RE: EE opinions please...
By bupkus on 11/27/2007 6:14:40 PM , Rating: 2
4. Could you scale it down to a rifle, because if you could, that would be really, really cool...

Paintball, dude, that might leave a mark though.

RE: EE opinions please...
By Christopher1 on 11/27/07, Rating: 0
RE: EE opinions please...
By Alexstarfire on 11/28/2007 12:11:58 AM , Rating: 2
Too bad that a bullet wouldn't travel that fast out the barrel. If you had a bullet that big it'd easily weigh 10x more than a paintball. You'd need a lot more force.

RE: EE opinions please...
By imaheadcase on 11/28/2007 4:29:03 AM , Rating: 2
Too bad that a bullet wouldn't travel that fast out the barrel. If you had a bullet that big it'd easily weigh 10x more than a paintball. You'd need a lot more force.

But you don't need a big bullet is the whole point, you could fire a bb out of it and still weight the same or less.

RE: EE opinions please...
By Chillin1248 on 11/30/2007 8:52:15 PM , Rating: 2
Not really.

When I used to paintball the standard exit velocity was somewhere between 200-300 feet per second. The NATO M855 round fired from a M16A2 leaves the muzzle at 3198 feet per second, big difference.

Now if you want to talk about darts loaded with a serum, we might have something for you.


RE: EE opinions please...
By 91TTZ on 11/28/2007 8:57:05 AM , Rating: 2
Anyone with a basic understanding of electronics can answer them.

If someone gives you the wattage but but not the voltage, it's impossible to determine the amperage. This is basic knowledge.

RE: EE opinions please...
By AvidDailyTechie on 11/28/2007 10:38:45 AM , Rating: 2
2. What kind of electrical power source would that thing require?

Nuclear reactor. Like the ones you hear about on aircraft carriers.

RE: EE opinions please...
By Chernobyl68 on 11/28/2007 12:51:08 PM , Rating: 2
I doubt it, unfortunately. The Navy has decomissioned all nuclear surface ships except for the carriers. They were too expensive to maintain and/or refuel. Only the large-scale plants of the Nimitz class, where the overwhelming efficiency of size can come into play, or the mission requirements of a submarine (propulsion without combustion) keep them nuclear powered. The cost of the smaller plants for cruisers/destroyers was not considered cost effective anymore, for the sea presence of the smaller ship.
This ship will likely be a gas turbine powered ship, like all new surface combatants are looking to be.

RE: EE opinions please...
By Sureshot324 on 11/29/2007 11:10:47 PM , Rating: 2
4. Could you scale it down to a rifle, because if you could, that would be really, really cool...

Recoil would be a huge problem with a rifle. Recoil = mass times muzzle velocity of the bullet. It doesn't matter whether it was fired with gun powder or magnetic rails. The whole point of a railgun is to fire a projectile with a massive amount of momentum, so I can't see it being practical as a infantry rifle.

RE: EE opinions please...
By latrosicarius on 12/5/2007 1:23:21 PM , Rating: 2
There would not be much of a point scaling down a railgun to a rifle-size.

The point is to fire a heavy slug, very fast, and very far.

Even if all the capacitors and power-generators magically weigh zero kilograms, Soldiers can't carry around 5 pound tungsten rods as ammunition, nor can they aim at targets farther than they can see.

By FITCamaro on 11/27/2007 2:20:17 PM , Rating: 1
Score one for US military spending. Will be awesome once we get these things developed. And the best part is they have non-military uses. If we can design that, the next step is to create mass drivers to hurl things into space. No more expensive rockets that use tons of fuel and (for the hippies out there) are polluting. You'll just need a nuclear power plant to power the beast. I would love to see a live fire test of this beast.

What's that Osama? You didn't hear it coming? Perfect.

RE: Awesome
By FITCamaro on 11/27/2007 2:23:41 PM , Rating: 3
I should say can be polluting. Depending on the type of fuel for the rocket.

RE: Awesome
By Wightout on 11/27/07, Rating: 0
RE: Awesome
By JonB on 11/27/2007 6:17:20 PM , Rating: 2
I'm going to have to chime in on the "nuclear power plant" idea. There isn't anything special about the power that they put out. I've worked at one for 22 years, plus Navy time, so I do know about them.

The thing about commercial nuke plants is that they like to put out steady power. 100% power, day after day after boring day. Using them to power rail guns on land wouldn't fit their load profile. For rail guns, you need "peaking" power units that can start up and shutdown quickly. Currently, that means Gas Turbine plants. They're small, powerful, and if you group enough of them together, you can equal the capacity of any nuclear plant running today.

Now, on Navy ships, there are only nuclear subs and nuclear carriers. All the other nuclear surface ships have been scrapped. Subs won't use rail guns. That leaves carriers. A rail gun would make a good kinetic energy weapon, but at short range they already have the Phalanx CIW system for that. To put railguns of this size on a smaller ship, they'll need to put in dedicated gas turbine generators with higher voltage stators to reduce the current.

We need room temperature superconductors. Yea.

RE: Awesome
By djc208 on 11/27/2007 8:21:33 PM , Rating: 2
There has been talk about bringing nuclear power to other ship classes. Systems like these could push that decision even harder.

These high gas prices have been affecting the Navy's pocket book too, and I can only imagine how much fuel a destroyer or LHD uses in a day. While the construction and maintenance costs are higher for nuclear ships, they're also a lot more stable than fuel prices, and every increase in oil costs makes nuclear more reasonable.

RE: Awesome
By 91TTZ on 11/28/2007 9:13:30 AM , Rating: 2
For rail guns, you need "peaking" power units that can start up and shutdown quickly. Currently, that means Gas Turbine plants. They're small, powerful, and if you group enough of them together, you can equal the capacity of any nuclear plant running today.

By the same token, if you group enough hamster wheels turning generators together, you can equal the capacity of any nuclear plant running today...the key phrase being "if you group enough together"

RE: Awesome
By Chernobyl68 on 11/28/2007 12:55:16 PM , Rating: 2
The Navy would not want a lot of smaller, lower capacity generators. Thats one reason why we don't build ships like the Enterprise class anymore, we build Nimitz class...

RE: Awesome
By ikkeman on 11/28/2007 2:30:34 PM , Rating: 2
a single question comes to mind...

How many hamsters would it take...

RE: Awesome
By fictisiousname on 11/28/2007 10:20:55 AM , Rating: 2
Actually, if the calculations above are correct (the capacitors can be charged in seconds) Shunting the power off propulsion long enough to charge the capacitors between shots would not only be practical, but easily implemented.

A good candidate for this would be Aegis type ships.

RE: Awesome
By wwwebber on 11/27/2007 6:18:05 PM , Rating: 4
Er - score one for US military spending eh ?

Did you know that BAE Systems is a British company ?.

RE: Awesome
By MagnumMan on 11/27/2007 8:12:19 PM , Rating: 4
Yes, however, the U.S. Military funded the project, or had a significant part, so the comment still makes sense.

RE: Awesome
By afkrotch on 11/28/2007 7:26:00 AM , Rating: 5
Isn't Britain owned by the US nowadays? lol

RE: Awesome
By Blight AC on 11/28/2007 9:13:05 AM , Rating: 2
Oooh.. Absurd Comment of the Day award! Got a LOL from me. :P

RE: Awesome
By bupkus on 11/27/2007 6:28:30 PM , Rating: 3
Personally I think a good peace time use would be to better propel those t-shirts up higher to us peeps in the nosebleed seats at NBA games. It just ain't fair!

RE: Awesome
By MrPoletski on 11/28/2007 8:20:12 AM , Rating: 3
"Score one for US military spending."

Last I checked, BRITISH aerospace was a British company, or have we sold that off too now?

"What's that Osama? You didn't hear it coming? Perfect."

Since when did anyone give half a damn about catching him? Think about it, they can find the real saddam (who had tonnes of imposters to throw assasins off) in a hidden underground bunker thing 9 months after the start of the invasion. They have been 'looking' for Bin Laden for over 6 years now and haven't got anywhere.

Holy commas
By NicePants42 on 11/27/2007 3:22:10 PM , Rating: 5
Extra commas:
BAE, known for its fighting vehicles , such as the Bradley,
The lab version of the gun , may look more tame , without the imposing barrel , in the BAE's design drawings, but it packs a punch that leaves no one laughing.
It hopes to soon meet the Navy's goal of a 64-megajoule weapon , capable of being mounted on a warship.
a key milestone in its goal of deploying a 64-megajoule cannon , on ship , within 13 years or less.

Missing comma:
Earlier this year General Atomics [,] a rival research company,

While I'm at it:
With such high power requirements, is such a design infeasible for battle on the high seas [?]
Chaboki believes believes the ideal ship platform would be

Sorry for nitpicking, but those commas are very annoying.

Some more information on the slug and barrel size(s) would be nice.

RE: Holy commas
By bighairycamel on 11/27/2007 3:35:27 PM , Rating: 4
Grammar Nazi strikes again!

RE: Holy commas
By ebakke on 11/27/2007 3:53:06 PM , Rating: 5
While I agree that comma complaints are a bit on the anal-retentive side, it sure is annoying when people don't write well.

RE: Holy commas
By NicePants42 on 11/27/2007 4:57:40 PM , Rating: 3
There comes a point where I believe it is more courteous to point out the mistakes that to ignore them. In my case, I guess that point lies somewhere in the vicinity of 7 extra commas over 4 selected sentences.

RE: Holy commas
By shamgar03 on 11/27/2007 6:29:22 PM , Rating: 6
mistakes that to ignore them

RE: Holy commas
By KristopherKubicki on 11/27/2007 7:47:35 PM , Rating: 4
NicePants -- I gave him a 6 but I appreciate the feedback. :) I cleaned the article up a bit now.

RE: Holy commas
By semo on 11/28/2007 6:42:07 AM , Rating: 1
you give 6s/6's/6s'/6es so often they've lost all meaning.

my posts are all meaningless (hint hint)


RE: Holy commas
By sxr7171 on 11/28/07, Rating: -1
RE: Holy commas
By Blight AC on 11/28/2007 9:02:39 AM , Rating: 3
Yes... but he does have some nice pants.

I can't help
By wwwebsurfer on 11/27/2007 2:10:06 PM , Rating: 2
I can't help it, but I keep thinking about the Futurama episode where they have 'wind-up' laser guns that play the jack in the box music.

RE: I can't help
By semo on 11/27/2007 3:50:57 PM , Rating: 2
just watched this episode today.
Please gentlemen. We must put an end to the bloodshed. We've all seen too many body bags and ball sacks.

RE: I can't help
By KristopherKubicki on 11/27/2007 4:19:50 PM , Rating: 6
Bender's Big Score is out in stores today. Run, don't walk to the nearest DVD palace and pick one up.

RE: I can't help
By Samus on 11/27/07, Rating: 0
RE: I can't help
By logaldinho on 11/27/2007 6:12:44 PM , Rating: 3
unless you paid for that leak, i believe he was referring to making sure you support futurama by PURCHASING the dvd so that more are made and the ever persistent rumor that it will come back to tv if sales are great.

RE: I can't help
By Ringold on 11/27/2007 9:30:59 PM , Rating: 2
Word on the street now is that if this damn strike goes on much longer, the second half the final season will have to be scrapped.

Brings back nasty memories of Farscapes abrupt ending. :\

RE: I can't help
By semo on 11/28/2007 6:32:07 AM , Rating: 2
what strike?

there is another futurama season?


RE: I can't help
By FITCamaro on 11/28/2007 7:00:00 AM , Rating: 2
The writer's strike in Hollywood.

RE: I can't help
By KristopherKubicki on 11/28/2007 1:17:10 PM , Rating: 2
Fortunately the writers behind Futurama (a lot of them write for American Dad right now) are some of the most passionate writers I've ever had the pleasure of meeting.

Futurama has always had some of the worst luck -- from pre-empting to abysmal timeslots. It's only fitting that its revival success would depend on the outcome of an industry-wide strike!

RE: I can't help
By Ringold on 11/28/2007 5:03:18 PM , Rating: 2
I was refering to BSG, as brought up by a person a post or so up, as far as the rumor went.

By ChronoReverse on 11/27/2007 2:11:59 PM , Rating: 2
Electromotive or nor, it's not going to be quiet when this thing fires. I guess the target won't hear the shell coming (since the shell is hypersonic)...

RE: Silent?
By AnnihilatorX on 11/27/2007 2:15:26 PM , Rating: 2
At least there won't be a huge puff of smoke as in traditional warship barrels, nor a smoke trail as with cruse missiles.

RE: Silent?
By Griswold on 11/27/2007 3:03:00 PM , Rating: 2
Cruise Missiles have no smoke trails once the turbojet engine kicks in mere seconds after launch.

RE: Silent?
By Mitch101 on 11/27/2007 3:42:23 PM , Rating: 5
Should we slap a green sticker on the rail gun for it being environmentally friendly? :)

RE: Silent?
By Wightout on 11/27/2007 4:27:39 PM , Rating: 2
If it will get money to pay for these things from eco hippies then yes!

RE: Silent?
By Chernobyl68 on 11/29/2007 12:04:50 PM , Rating: 2
I'm guessing you haven't seen "Under Siege"
I'm also guessing the smoke at the launch point is what the poster is referring too.

RE: Silent?
By Frallan on 11/28/2007 8:48:24 AM , Rating: 2
Nope but the EMP signature will be visible from space....

Just think of it that much Power in that short time - the pulse will spike every sensor in LOS.

RE: Silent?
By FITCamaro on 11/27/2007 2:22:21 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah you won't want to be behind it when it fires. Or even anywhere near it.

Big, Heavy, Fun
By LeviBeckerson on 11/27/2007 2:54:45 PM , Rating: 2
Fwoom, as it were.

I gotta wonder how heavy the caps would be for the 64mj model the navy wants. And how many reactors the boats with 'em are gonna be packing.

What's the cyclical time on something like that? 10/day? Oi.

RE: Big, Heavy, Fun
By TimberJon on 11/27/2007 3:44:32 PM , Rating: 2
Assuming that the proper capacitors can be rack mounted within the guts of a warship, and properly maintained and cooled, they should not take too long to charge up if enough power is fed to them. They will need some fat pipes.

Reloading may be as fast as 1 minute, assuming a powered reloading arm or some such device. Can the reactors spike to generate the power for another shot in that time? Depends on how many reactors and types you have.. as well as the capacitors. How long before they cool down? As far as I remember, capacitors have to cool down sufficiently to hold the maximum rated charge, when theyre too hot, they lose efficiency.

As much as I searched, I could not find military-spec high-discharge capacitors. I'm sure someone has some resources to them in here. Unfortunately, doesnt work anymore =( did they move?
Would they be electrolytic caps?

When the caps discharge, stand back!

RE: Big, Heavy, Fun
By Kakumba on 11/27/2007 4:54:32 PM , Rating: 2
Reloading may be as fast as 1 minute, assuming a powered reloading arm or some such device.

Actually, considering the 5" cannon on the ANZAC class frigates can reload a standard shell approximately every 1.2 seconds (~50 rounds per minute nominal firing rate), one would hope they can reload this at the same kind of speed. The limiting factor will always be the charging of capacitors. So maybe these should be mounted on aircraft carriers? Anyone know the output of something like a Nimitz class generators?

RE: Big, Heavy, Fun
By djc208 on 11/28/2007 7:08:04 AM , Rating: 2
Wikipedia lists it as 104 MW/plant (2-plants) based on steam capacity, though steam is used directly for propulsion/heating/catapults etc.

Per "Eight steam turbine generators each produce 8,000 kilowatts of electrical power"

Of course I doubt these are the "actual" numbers, those are most likely clasified, but it's safe to say they're no smaller than this.

RE: Big, Heavy, Fun
By Chernobyl68 on 11/28/2007 1:03:24 PM , Rating: 2
I can neither confirm nor deny those numbers :)

RE: Big, Heavy, Fun
By FITCamaro on 11/28/2007 7:02:17 AM , Rating: 3
As much as I searched, I could not find military-spec high-discharge capacitors

I'm glad to hear that.

RE: Big, Heavy, Fun
By theapparition on 11/28/2007 7:32:52 AM , Rating: 2
I'm in contact with a company that specializes in that exact same thing. You have to get DOD approval before being able to even talk to them other than say "hello".

RE: Big, Heavy, Fun
By Cerberus29 on 11/28/2007 11:23:01 AM , Rating: 2
Would you really need to fire a slug again for a while. I mean they're probably going to be so devastating that one slug would take out most targets. Should be a very effective bunker buster.
Just think of the resistor they'll need to discharge the capacitor too!

I can't wait till they have this sorted and in use, its going to be sooo cool to see.
I'd love to have a scaled down one, that would be even cooler.

By JKflipflop98 on 11/27/2007 2:14:08 PM , Rating: 5
Now all they gotta do is camp the quad until respawn and the flag is ours!

By DeuceHalo on 11/27/2007 3:06:26 PM , Rating: 5
Every time I see news stories about rail guns, it always makes me think of this comic:


By Orbs on 11/27/2007 3:07:15 PM , Rating: 2
Awesome :)

By judasmachine on 11/27/2007 2:11:12 PM , Rating: 2
We still need the 30 foot tall robots to mount them on.

Yes I was that big of a nerd.

RE: But...
By eilersr on 11/27/2007 2:41:43 PM , Rating: 2
Was? :P

Don't worry, you're in kind company:
I still pull out the odd MechWarrior game when the mood strikes...

RE: But...
By System48 on 11/27/2007 2:52:04 PM , Rating: 2
Great, now I'm going to have to find that game again so I can lay waste. I'm sure it'll look awesome on my 8800 but I wonder if it will work with Vista?

RE: But...
By TimberJon on 11/27/2007 3:47:06 PM , Rating: 2
How is MechWarrior odd? you meant Old right?

The BT Universe is the best.

RE: But...
By Ringold on 11/27/2007 9:34:03 PM , Rating: 2
Figure of speach; he probably did mean odd.

You know, I actually saw someone having to explain "partner in crime" today, one native english speaker to another. It was almost surreal..

i'm willing to bet...
By inperfectdarkness on 11/27/2007 3:54:57 PM , Rating: 2
that the shockwaves emitted from the muzzle could do serious damage to the internal organs of anything within close proximity.

mach 7 is nice. but it's nothing compared to the speeds icbm's have on reentry. still, this is much more practical than directed-energy weapons.

we can pretty much guarantee that it won't even be put on a tank, much less than a rifle. you'd need way too much power.

RE: i'm willing to bet...
By THX on 11/27/2007 5:22:13 PM , Rating: 2
"we can pretty much guarantee that it won't even be put on a tank, much less than a rifle. you'd need way too much power."

That's some Unamerican talk there. Sounds like we have an enemy of freedom on our hands boys! ;>

How would an ICBM's speed compare? Wiki says they're "near 5 miles per second." Sooo 3600 seconds in 1 hour. 5 miles x 3600 seconds = 18,000 mph ?_? Crikey!

RE: i'm willing to bet...
By inperfectdarkness on 11/28/2007 10:00:59 AM , Rating: 2
...vs. mach 7

7x ~780mph = 5460mph. so an icbm on re-entry is >3x faster than a railgun.


btw...icbm's don't liquify, so i don't understand how a railgun slug would.

RE: i'm willing to bet...
By PlasmaBomb on 11/28/2007 5:33:41 PM , Rating: 2
The slugs get very hot, think -
Solid -> Liquid -> Gas -> Plasma

(yup you will have a great big plasmaball behind the slug)

Rail gun - why Navy likes the idea.
By bildan on 11/27/2007 7:35:37 PM , Rating: 2
If you've ever lived on a warship - I have - there's always the worry about the tons of high explosive ammo stored in the ships magazines.

One spark in the wrong place and BOOM. Most of this explosive stuff is watched over by a few teenagers in the ships gunnery department. Not necessarily a comforting thought.

Replacing some of the explosives with rail guns will make a lot of sailors sleep better.

RE: Rail gun - why Navy likes the idea.
By Ringold on 11/27/2007 9:42:09 PM , Rating: 2
If I were in the Navy, I'd fear this sort of thing more then embrace it.

I saw an Arleigh Brooke-class destroyer assembled on History Channel the other day; that hull, for some reason, was much, much thinner than I thought it would be. Don't know why, but I expected some thick-ass armor to try to make the boat more survivable. It suddenly made perfect sense how a raft with simple explosives was able to cripple the USS Cole.

While we may be, along with allies, the only ones able to afford this right now the day will come when we're not. The day will also come when one of these is shot at us.

That day will hurt. Very, very badly. At that point, I'd rather be in the Army..

Actually, no, I'd rather be hideing Switzerland. :P

RE: Rail gun - why Navy likes the idea.
By Christopher1 on 11/27/07, Rating: 0
By PlasmaBomb on 11/28/2007 5:36:38 PM , Rating: 2
Radar should be able to pick up the firing signature, although with it being so close to ground level it might be difficult.

Pentagon Wars!!!
By EglsFly on 11/27/2007 9:22:37 PM , Rating: 2
BAE, known for its fighting vehicles such as the Bradley...

When it comes to the Bradley I can't help but think of the entertaining movie "The Pentagon Wars", which was about the development problems of this vehicle.

Based on Lt. Col. James G. Burton's 1993 book of the same name, 'The Pentagon Wars' dramatizes the ludicrous time/money wasting going on in the many Pentagon weapons programs during the cold war.

This "made for HBO" film focuses on the development of the M2 Bradley Fighting Vehicle, lead by General Partridge (played by Kelsey Grammer). Burton (an U.S. Air Force Lt. Col played by Cary Elwes) is appointed, by Congress, to test and evaluate the vehicle that has been under development by the U.S. Army for 17 years at a cost of $14 billion.

I doubt that you will catch it on HBO anymore, but you can pick it up on DVD at, rent from, etc...

Funny quotes from the movie:
"A troop-transport that can't carry troops. A reconnaissance vehicle that's too conspicuous to do reconnaissance. And a quasi-tank that has less armor than a snow-blower, but has enough ammo to take out half of D.C."

Next movie quote is from a senatorial commission hearing about the program overruns and problems:
"(Senator): Filling the fuel tanks with water for a test designed to check the combustibility of those tanks, that wasn't devious?

(Gen Partridge): If the tanks had been filled with fuel, there is a good chance the vehicle would have exploded. If the vehicle had exploded, we couldn't run additional tests!"

RE: Pentagon Wars!!!
By robinthakur on 11/28/2007 6:47:25 AM , Rating: 2
Don't forget the original war satire, Dr Strangelove. [assumes dodgy german accent]

"What is the point of a doomsday weapon if nobody knows about it??? Why didn't you tell the world, eh?!?"

"Mein Fuhrer, I can walk, another miracle!"

I agree with the other poster who remembers NGE, Tanks and rifles would work but the batteries would only last 1 minute and thirty seconds as relevent...and training would consist of 2-player DDR to learn how to work together.

RE: Pentagon Wars!!!
By Blood1 on 11/28/2007 11:09:09 AM , Rating: 2
I remember that movie! Great movie.

By raldrich on 11/28/2007 12:27:14 AM , Rating: 2
Several people talking about the projectile here - what is being missed is that at that speed and acceleration, the projectile becomes liquid. The associated fluid dynamics significantly complicates the development of this system. I got to tour the facility in Dahlgren, VA when they were firing the 8MJ laser and the capacitor banks basically filled a room. It was REALLY COOL!

RE: Projectile
By PlasmaBomb on 11/28/2007 5:40:38 PM , Rating: 2
I think they can manage to design slugs which don't become liquid ;)

By pakigang on 11/28/2007 3:03:58 AM , Rating: 2
When I read BFG, Doom 3 came to my mind.

By WayneG on 11/28/2007 4:36:22 AM , Rating: 2
I think that's the idea, as in Big F**king Gun from Doom :)

Gallente Frigate
By oneils on 11/29/2007 9:50:00 AM , Rating: 2
So, when can I fit this to my incursus?

RE: Gallente Frigate
By Caldari Battleship on 11/30/2007 11:35:33 PM , Rating: 2
Oh dear! Eve-Online is creeping into everything. As it happens I'm done reading this nice page and cranking up 7 Eve windows to tool about in space for a while. Being Caldari, I wouldn't understand railguns, only missiles.

now all we need to do....
By pillagenburn on 11/27/2007 6:18:27 PM , Rating: 3
Now all we need to do is develop one big enough to accommodate monkeys and other small primates. We could shoot monkeys into space all day long!

I can see it now... we could call it.... the 64-megajoule monkey cannon

... or maybe 64 megajoule chimp launcher ....

By Spivonious on 11/27/2007 2:08:33 PM , Rating: 2
You have been erased.

holy crap
By Moishe on 11/27/2007 2:12:33 PM , Rating: 2
sweet! I'd like to see details of the trial when it's been tested...

Shattered Skies
By brshoemak on 11/27/2007 2:34:08 PM , Rating: 2
Reminds me of 'Stonehenge' in Ace Combat 3...

By mentalchallenger on 11/27/2007 3:39:51 PM , Rating: 2
Metal Gear?!

By Vim on 11/27/2007 8:25:17 PM , Rating: 2
Pretty crazy, imo.

memories of NGE...
By mark2ft on 11/27/2007 10:52:47 PM , Rating: 2
All this talk about a gigantic gun requiring huge amounts of energy reminds of that one Neon Genesis Evangelion episode where they use all the electricity from the nation of Japan to power one single shot of the world's most powerful rifle. Now, if we can just start thinking about making Unit-01 a reality...

"I f***ing cannot play Halo 2 multiplayer. I cannot do it." -- Bungie Technical Lead Chris Butcher
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