General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems (GA-EMS) announced today that its new 10 Mega Joule (MJ) medium range multi-mission railgun system has completed final assembly and factory acceptance test in preparation for transport to Dugway Proving Ground in Utah to begin testing. The 10 MJ railgun system has been designed and built by GA-EMS to provide multi-mission, multi-domain capability with greater flexibility and a smaller footprint for ship, land and mobile platforms.
«The 10 MJ railgun system has our third-generation railgun launcher, and includes our fifth-generation pulsed power system and a new mounting system that allows the launcher to elevate and train for better targeting», stated Nick Bucci, vice president for Missile Defense and Space Systems at GA-EMS. «This represents a leap forward in advancing railgun technologies, offering reduced size and weight for the launcher, twice the energy density in a significantly reduced pulsed power footprint, and more capable hypersonic projectiles. We’ll continue to develop and mature these technologies, perform risk reduction, and test under real-world conditions to ultimately deliver a more capable, effective, and cost-efficient solution to counter future threats».
GA-EMS multi-mission medium range railgun weapon system integrates the High Energy Pulsed Power Container (HEPPC), 10 MJ launcher, hypersonic hybrid missile, and fire control technologies. The HEPPC utilizes GA-EMS next generation railgun capacitors and a new approach to packaging and distribution of the energy in a smaller footprint than existing pulsed power solutions. This reduces the number of pulsed power containers required to launch the guided projectiles or hybrid missiles. The HEPPC provides additional capabilities to test GA-EMS hypersonic projectiles, which contain a Guidance Control Unit with guidance, navigation, and control software and a complex control actuation system.
Successful projectile component testing was completed earlier this year, with multiple firings at launch accelerations over 30,000 Gees. The testing also demonstrated a continuous two-way data link between the in-flight projectiles and the ground station over an open range that supports the fire control solution.
GA-EMS performs successful testing of electromagnetic railgun launched hypersonic projectiles
General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems (GA-EMS) announced the first successful completion of an aircraft arrestment made with the Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG) March 31. GA-EMS, in collaboration with the U.S. Navy, conducted the arrestment of an F/A-18E Super Hornet at the Runway Arrested Landing Site (RALS) located at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, in Lakehurst, New Jersey. AAG is a state-of-the-art turbo-electric system designed for controlled and reliable deceleration during aircraft recovery operations on carriers.
«The first aircraft arrestment marks a major milestone in demonstrating AAG performance and capability», stated Scott Forney, President of GA-EMS. «This also represents the culmination of many man-hours of design and development efforts, and a definitive step toward bringing this transformational technology into the next phase of testing and optimization».
«More than 1,200 successful dead load arrestments have been completed at the Jet Car Test Site in Lakehurst, New Jersey», stated Dean Key, Director, Launch and Recovery Production Programs and AAG Design and Development. «Now, with the arrestment of aircraft, we take an important step in verifying the dynamic controls and system performance as a whole. We’re extremely proud of this accomplishment, and are excited to continue down this path of success as the AAG system undergoes additional aircraft arrestment testing, and demonstration activity».
AAG is installed aboard Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78), and is scheduled for installation on the future John F. Kennedy (CVN-79), which is currently under construction. The company’s Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS), which uses electromagnetic technology to launch aircraft from the deck of naval aircraft carriers, is also installed and undergoing dead load testing on PCU Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78). In addition to AAG, EMALS is scheduled for installation on John F. Kennedy (CVN-79).
Advanced Arresting Gear
AAG allows for arrestment of a broad range of aircraft, reducing manning and maintenance, and provides higher reliability and safety margins. AAG’s design uses simple, proven energy-absorbing water turbines coupled to a large induction motor for fine control of the arresting forces. The AAG system offers significant benefits over current recovery systems, including:
Operational capability to recover projected air wing, with renewed service life margins;
Full compatibility with Nimitz-class and Ford-class carriers;
General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems (GA-EMS) announced on June 22 that projectiles with on-board electronics survived the railgun launch environment and performed their intended functions in four consecutive tests on 9-10 June at the U.S. Army’s Dugway Proving Ground in Utah. The week of test activity included marking the 100th successful launch from the GA-EMS’ 3 megajoule Blitzer electromagnetic railgun.
«This is a significant milestone in the technology development toward a railgun weapon system and marks the first time flight dynamics data have been successfully measured and down-linked from an aerodynamic projectile fired from our railgun on an open test range», stated Nick Bucci, Vice President Missile Defense Systems, GA Electromagnetic Systems Group. «GA-EMS’ successful testing and on-going investment to advance our scalable railgun and projectile technologies illustrates our commitment to mature this transformational weapon system and provide the warfighter multi-mission advantages across several platforms».
During the week of testing, the electronics on-board the projectiles successfully measured in-bore accelerations and projectile dynamics, for several kilometers downrange, with the integral data link continuing to operate after the projectiles impacted the desert floor. On-board measurement of flight dynamics is essential for precision guidance. The test projectiles were launched at accelerations over 30,000 times that of gravity and were exposed to the full electromagnetic environment of the railgun launch.
GA-EMS’ Blitzer railgun is a test asset designed and manufactured by GA-EMS to advance technology development toward multi-mission weapon systems. Railguns launch projectiles using electromagnetic forces instead of chemical propellants and can deliver muzzle velocities greater than twice those of conventional guns. Blitzer railgun technology, when integrated into a weapon system that includes the launcher, high-density capacitor driven pulsed power, and weapon fire control system, can launch multi-mission projectiles with shorter time-to-target and greater effectiveness at longer range.
Electromagnetic Systems Group of General Atomics
The Electromagnetic Systems Group of General Atomics (GA-EMS) is actively working to bring electromagnetic railgun technology to the Department of Defense for multiple missions: integrated air and missile defense, surface fire support and anti-surface warfare.
GA-EMS’s expertise in electromagnetics stems from GA’s long history in high power electrical systems, from developing and building both fission and fusion reactors, through the Navy’s first electromagnetic launch and recovery equipment for aircraft carriers.
GA-EMS has developed, built and successfully tested two railguns, the internally funded the Blitzer 3 MJ system and a 32 MJ launcher for the Office of Naval Research (ONR). GA-EMS also designed and built the pulse power supply for both guns and is developing projectiles for air and missile defense and precision strike.
GA-EMS is continuing the Blitzer family of railguns with a 10 MJ system designed for mobile and fixed land-based applications.
Railguns deliver muzzle velocities up to twice those of conventional guns, resulting in shorter time to target and higher lethality at greater range with no propellant required onboard the platform. Railguns offer much deeper magazines and lower cost per engagement compared with missiles of comparable range.
Shorter time to the target and extended range
Railguns can reliably launch projectiles to muzzle velocities of Mach 6-7+. A round fired at sea level can reach the horizon in 6 to 7 seconds and still be traveling faster than a conventional gun‑launched munition at its muzzle.
Lethality without high explosives
Hypervelocity impact achieves high lethality through kinetic energy, eliminating the safety and logistic burdens of explosives.
Railgun weapon systems employ guided, maneuverable projectiles, which can accomplish multiple missions with the same round. Railguns can also fire a family of different projectiles with varying capabilities, levels of sophistication, and cost.
Elimination of propellant
Because rounds are launched electromagnetically, propellant is not required. This results in much smaller rounds, enabling many more stowed rounds in a constrained volume as well as improved safety and reduced logistics burden.
The confluence of microelectronics, nanotechnologies, and electromagnetic acceleration enable missile performance without rocket motors. Railgun-launched guided projectiles are expected to be much lower cost than current assets for integrated air and missile defense.
With deep magazines and high, sustained firing rates, railguns provide unprecedented firepower.
The lower cost and higher firepower of railguns levels the playing field with potential adversaries.
General Atomics Railgun Projectile Development Passes Critical Tests at U.S. Army’s Dugway Proving Ground