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U.S. Navy Receives First Industry Built Railgun Prototype

Unknown Lamer posted more than 2 years ago | from the killing-pirates-with-magnets dept.

The Military 277

Zothecula writes "Two years after BAE Systems was awarded a US$21 million contract from the Office of Naval Research (ONR) to develop an advanced Electromagnetic Railgun for the U.S. Navy, the company has delivered the first industry-built prototype demonstrator to the Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Dahlgren. The prototype launcher is now being prepared for testing which is scheduled to take place in the coming weeks."

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Where's Gordon Freeman when you need him? (0)

theillien (984847) | more than 2 years ago | (#38967567)

We're going to need him before long.

Re:Where's Gordon Freeman when you need him? (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | more than 2 years ago | (#38967599)

Why? Are they firing anomalous materials from the railgun?

Re:Where's Gordon Freeman when you need him? (1)

theillien (984847) | more than 2 years ago | (#38967653)

No, but he'll know how to beat the aliens when they arrive. And they surely will now that we have technology like this.

Re:Where's Gordon Freeman when you need him? (3, Insightful)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 2 years ago | (#38967675)

No, it's powered by zero point energy. Until now, there has been no practical application for the technology, but manipulating gravity for the purposes of propelling objects at high rates of speed at your enemies sounds like a winner. Hence, we will need Gordon since he is the only one crazy enough to put one in his hand for testing purposes.

Re:Where's Gordon Freeman when you need him? (4, Insightful)

somersault (912633) | more than 2 years ago | (#38968057)

Pfft. Quake Guy did it first.

Re:Where's Gordon Freeman when you need him? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#38968333)

No, but there might be some unforeseen consequences.

Re:Where's Gordon Freeman when you need him? (5, Funny)

BergZ (1680594) | more than 2 years ago | (#38967673)

Wasn't he supposed to be in the Test Chamber half an hour ago?

Re:Where's Gordon Freeman when you need him? (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 2 years ago | (#38969413)

Wasn't he supposed to be in the Test Chamber half an hour ago?

Nah, he's currently working in Geneva [ytmnd.com] .

no Arnold Schwarzenegger (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38967901)

You're in an extremely high risk situation, Miss Cullen. That should've been explained to you.

Pop Up (1)

mdsolar (1045926) | more than 2 years ago | (#38967627)

There is an annoying popup on TFA. Reload to temporarily defeat it.

Re:Pop Up (5, Funny)

osu-neko (2604) | more than 2 years ago | (#38967717)

There is an annoying popup on TFA. Reload to temporarily defeat it.

Hmm, I don't see any popup. I suspect your NoScript settings are set to something insane, like "not installed"...

Re:Pop Up (1)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 2 years ago | (#38968169)

Or you can use firebug to inspect and delete the annoying popup. Its what I do when I find a site that I really need to use, but is broken without javascript and more broken with javascript.

not enough power.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38967631)

They will need 1.21 Gigawatts.

That's Jigglewatts. (1)

mdsolar (1045926) | more than 2 years ago | (#38967777)

Got to pronounce it right.

Re:That's Jigglewatts. (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | more than 2 years ago | (#38968301)

Shiver me timbers matey.

Re:not enough power.... (1, Informative)

hAckz0r (989977) | more than 2 years ago | (#38968063)

But if they had that much power they would have to be shooting at WWII Japanese aircraft carriers or German panzer tanks, and that war is already over. Why waste the time?

Besides, a link off of the article says "a one-ton vehicle moving at 100 mph equals a megajoule of energy", and therefor 33 Megajoules is clearly over the 88 mph threashold the car needs, and them some. Using electricity the gun you can at least save you on gas. Its just the sudden starts and stops that we need to learn to deal with.

Re:not enough power.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38968179)

Between the military and its toys and health care this nation is going to merrily impoverish itself.

In my mind. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38967643)

There's only one railgun, and her name is Misaka Mikoto.

Re:In my mind. (0)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 2 years ago | (#38967729)

They really need to make a sequel for that. Index just isn't nearly as interesting as Railgun. She really started to come into her own at the end of the series, walking on walls and stuff. She was really starting to see the full potential of her ability.

Re:In my mind. (1)

Pope (17780) | more than 2 years ago | (#38968081)

Heh. :) I started watched Index after having seen Railgun, and as you say, it's just not nearly as interesting. Even the 4 episodes or so with the side characters came off well.

Re:In my mind. (1)

xmorg (718633) | more than 2 years ago | (#38967739)

crap, now i gotta waste hours of dwarf fortress time, watching another pointless anime!

Re:In my mind. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38967997)

Just make sure to not neglect your neckbeard grooming. Those cheetos aren't going to get tangled in there by themselves!

Re:In my mind. (1)

hikaricore (1081299) | more than 2 years ago | (#38967953)

Doesn't seem off-topic to me.

Wow (5, Interesting)

koan (80826) | more than 2 years ago | (#38967649)

Can you imagine the sound this weapon makes when a projectile exits at 5000 MPH, that alone would terrify the enemy.

Re:Wow (1)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 2 years ago | (#38967721)

The enemy would be terrified by the noise, but I suspect wouldn't risk much from the gun, as a projectile exiting the barrel (or whatever passes for a barrel in a railgun) at 5000 mph instantly vaporizes when it hits the atmosphere.

Re:Wow (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38967905)

The enemy would be terrified by the noise, but I suspect wouldn't risk much from the gun, as a projectile exiting the barrel (or whatever passes for a barrel in a railgun) at 5000 mph instantly vaporizes when it hits the atmosphere.

You're thinking of Santa [physicsforums.com] .

Re:Wow (4, Insightful)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38967743)

At mach one zillion and hundreds of KM away, they won't hear it until long after the dust settles from impact.

Re:Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38968149)

I want to know how much mass these projectiles have.

Re:Wow (5, Interesting)

Baloroth (2370816) | more than 2 years ago | (#38968465)

Well, TFA says the projectile travels at around 5,000mph leaving the barrel, and has ~32 megajoules of energy, so using KE=1/2mv^2 and some conversion, you get about 13kg (5000mph=2235m/s, [32e6]*2/[2235^2]=m=12.8)

Re:Wow (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38968719)

You're assuming 33mJ is the energy making it to the projectile, while it could be the raw power dumped into the system which needs heat losses removed ;-)

Re:Wow (4, Insightful)

Tim C (15259) | more than 2 years ago | (#38968203)

Perhaps, but not the enemy that it was aimed at - the projectile will get there before the sound does.

Re:Wow (1)

sycodon (149926) | more than 2 years ago | (#38968683)

No need to lead those little pirate boats anymore.

Re:Wow (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38968207)

I work at the facility in question. The sound is comparable (but louder) to a 5 inch shell being fired on the range.

It is quite capable of startling someone not expecting it from about a km away.

Re:Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38968485)

Uhhhmmm, how fast do you think regular artillery shells travel? You think it's quiet when you see the ocean have a dent in it from the shock wave of firing? And besides, what's to hear if the projectile flies faster than sound? You'll be dead by the time the sound of the firing reaches you....

Re:Wow (5, Informative)

PPH (736903) | more than 2 years ago | (#38968623)

If you've heard it, it means you've survived.

The projectile will arrive before the sound.

WTF submitter?! (2)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 2 years ago | (#38967669)

gizmag, really?!!
Couldn't you have at least found the story at Janes?!!

Re:WTF submitter?! (3, Informative)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 2 years ago | (#38968979)

Sadly most people these days don't know what Janes is. Probably because most people don't follow either the military or gun culture on /. sad but true. Anyway, I keep wondering whether or not railgun tech will be what brings the battleship back into use. I can see scaled down versions of this on cruisers. But if you want to hammer something down from way off shore and cheaply, I don't think anything else beside a large chunk of floating iron will do.

Re:WTF submitter?! (5, Insightful)

BisexualPuppy (914772) | more than 2 years ago | (#38969373)

Probably because most people don't follow either the military or gun culture on /. sad but true.

There are so many things I can learn with passion, and killing people is not one of them. Is that sad ?

Re:WTF submitter?! (1)

Abreu (173023) | more than 2 years ago | (#38969709)

Probably because most people don't follow either the military or gun culture on /. sad but true.

There are so many things I can learn with passion, and killing people is not one of them. Is that sad ?

Well said. Quoted for lack of mod points.

Re:WTF submitter?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38970007)

Well I guess that just makes you a better person than the rest of us.

Re:WTF submitter?! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38970071)

There are so many things I can learn with passion, and killing people is not one of them. Is that sad ?

Remember that the next time you're commenting on "assault" rifles and the rest of military or gun culture. You actively chose not to learn based on your own narrow minded belief system.

Comments at TFA (4, Insightful)

mdsolar (1045926) | more than 2 years ago | (#38967733)

Some wish that we would put efforts into more peaceful technology. It is worth remembering that the German V2 research became the basis for manned space exploration both in the US and in the Soviet Union. Eventual space cooperation led to better arms reduction treaties. The rail gun may also have eventual launch applications and promote cooperation and peace as well.

Re:Comments at TFA (2)

iamgnat (1015755) | more than 2 years ago | (#38968205)

Just the minor little inconvenience of those squishy things we call bodies not really caring for the G force generated by such acceleration...

I do agree with you though as I too think there will be practical applications for sending non-compressible items into orbit (or beyond) until we can address the limitations with our squishiness. I'd be interested to see a comparison of the energy requirements of such a launch compared to the current means, from the basics I understand these things take a crap ton of energy to drive them.

Re:Comments at TFA (2)

Anrego (830717) | more than 2 years ago | (#38968525)

I've envisioned a very long rail-gun style launch system .. where the acceleration is gradual enough that you don't end up with liquid organs, but still end up at enough speed to get into orbit.

Disclaimer: I haven't done any math on this, or looked at any practical elements .. it's just a quick thought.

Re:Comments at TFA (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38969365)

I did the math. Sufficiently slow acceleration of 3Gs would require a distance of several miles (going from memory here) to achieve 17,000 miles per hour. As much as it sucks, it's still better to put the propulsion system on the vehicle.

Regards,
Jason C. Wells

Re:Comments at TFA (3, Interesting)

Mysticalfruit (533341) | more than 2 years ago | (#38970105)

How many miles long? Consider the fact that run way for the shuttle land on is actually 15,000 feet long (4572m)

Re:Comments at TFA (0)

jgtg32a (1173373) | more than 2 years ago | (#38970141)

Several is a bit of an understatement. Wolfram is saying 981KM, then again that is all acceleration taking place on the rail, and you aren't just using the rail as a "first stage"

Re:Comments at TFA (3, Informative)

careysub (976506) | more than 2 years ago | (#38970175)

I did the math. Sufficiently slow acceleration of 3Gs would require a distance of several miles (going from memory here) to achieve 17,000 miles per hour. As much as it sucks, it's still better to put the propulsion system on the vehicle.

Regards, Jason C. Wells

It is not possible to put something into orbit using a ground launcher alone. An on-board motor is essential at the very least to circularize the trajectory so that the "orbit" does not intersect the surface of the Earth before completing one revolution. And you lost way to much energy in the lower atmosphere (and create incredible heat loads) trying to ram through it at super-orbital speeds (in fact the G-loading from this deceleration alone will probably be prohibitive for humans).

For Earth-surface launches it could provide a replacement for the first stage - get you above 95%-99% of the atmosphere where rocket engines are most efficient and no longer have to fight lower atmosphere air resistance. This might make a single (rocket) stage to orbit system practical.

Re:Comments at TFA (1)

mdsolar (1045926) | more than 2 years ago | (#38968529)

What is important is the amount of energy you need to carry with you. With a rocket, you need to carry your fuel, with a gun, you don't. It may make sense to use a longer rail for human spaceflight. Last I checked, about 60 miles was a comfortable rail length.

Re:Comments at TFA (1)

zeropointburn (975618) | more than 2 years ago | (#38968541)

A lot of energy, yes, but for a very short period of time.

Given that the cost of the entire prototype program is vastly less than the cost of a Shuttle launch, it is safe to assume(!) that the per-kilo cost to orbit is substantially less via railgun.

In addition, given that the payload is launched by a single initial impulse rather than a long, slow burn, the mass fraction is much higher. You are not using energy to lift a bunch of fuel to provide energy to lift a bunch of fuel to provide, etc., etc. to lift the payload into orbit, you are simply lifting the payload into orbit.

Viable payloads for this technology include food, water, fuel, oxygen, metal, plastic. With appropriate facilities in orbit, these things can then be assembled into useful and interesting devices. If all we have to do is lift astronauts and sensitive components via Shuttle (or Proton rocket or Dragon capsule or whatever), then we can save billions on launch costs while exploring our solar system.

Re:Comments at TFA (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38970107)

Meh, just use it to launch the necessary supplies. Like additional fuel, dihydrogen monoxide, chocolate, etc. Most of those things don't care about the G force. Send the squishy thingies up the normal way.

(hah, captcha: magnet)

Re:Comments at TFA (1)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 2 years ago | (#38968439)

I doubt it'll be much use as a launcher anytime soon. You'd have to get up to escape velocity (actually greater due to atmospheric friction) in the length of the barrel unless you have propellants on board the projectile and then you enter all sorts of problems of containment. As for launching astronauts - forget it.

Re:Comments at TFA (1)

Dynedain (141758) | more than 2 years ago | (#38968627)

It is worth remembering that the German V2 research became the basis for manned space exploration both in the US and in the Soviet Union. Eventual space cooperation led to better arms reduction treaties

The research also became the basis for the nuclear arms buildup in the first place. If you can put a man into controlled orbit, you can also put a warhead wherever you want it.

Re:Comments at TFA (1)

mdsolar (1045926) | more than 2 years ago | (#38969605)

Actually, we started out with bombers, which we still use. But I'll grant that the hydrogen bomb was aimed towards a missile. More bang for the buck meant more bang per launcher really.

Mmhm, we can hope, but... (1)

anonymov (1768712) | more than 2 years ago | (#38969859)

With this technology we can send some FREEDOM to/from the orbit easily, and cover wide areas with devastating LOVE flechette rounds and COOPERATION bunker busters.

Here, have some peace coming at you at supersonic speed!

Seriously, though, it could be awesome for delivering supplies to space with minimal dead weight for casing, control systems and a bit of fuel for maneuvering engines at final stage.

Time to shot some scrap metal to the moon and start building a colony?

What's this? (5, Funny)

dpilot (134227) | more than 2 years ago | (#38967749)

Sounds like another government rail subsidy to me. Or is it really "TSA meets Amtrak"?

(I'm preparing to get strafed.)

Re:What's this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38967865)

Or "randomly selected" for additional screening?

You do live within 200 miles of the border, don't you?

light gas gun (4, Interesting)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38967763)

I always thought a nuclear steam powered light gas gun filled with electrolyzed hydrogen would be cool. light gas guns never get the love they deserve.

Re:light gas gun (1)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | more than 2 years ago | (#38968349)

Maybe they need a sexier name than "nuclear steam powered light gas gun filled with electrolyzed hydrogen".

Re:light gas gun (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38968547)

I propose "nuclear death cannon".

Re:light gas gun (4, Funny)

EdZ (755139) | more than 2 years ago | (#38969025)

Maybe they need a sexier name than "nuclear steam powered light gas gun filled with electrolyzed hydrogen".

I'm not sure you're on the correct website if "nuclear steam powered light gas gun filled with electrolyzed hydrogen" is not near the apex of sexy names.

Re:light gas gun (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38968977)

You mean a plasma gun?

Re:light gas gun (5, Informative)

rahvin112 (446269) | more than 2 years ago | (#38969043)

The beauty of the railgun and why the Navy is so aggressively pursing them is that explosive based weapons are very dangerous at sea under counter attack. The most secure portion of the ship is often the munitions storage area for this reason as a properly placed round can blow the bottom out of the ship by igniting the munitions stored.

The railgun does away with the whole bit, the munitions are rods of metal and the propellant is electricity. Without all the powder storage you can either dramatically reduce the size of ship and crew or dramatically increase the number of rounds deliverable before restocking. Finally the restocking ships aren't going to be carrying combustible munitions. A round 1/4 the size of the largest battleship guns fired from a railgun will do nearly 100 times the damage.

The goal of the Navy DDX program is ships with 1/4 the crew size, 10 times the firepower and a significant reduction in profile (stealth). Imagine being able to field twice the number of ships for half the cost and a single ship has more firepower than 10 current models.

Re:light gas gun (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 2 years ago | (#38970051)

Do not forget that the powder is replaced with capacitors which are similarly volatile.

Where are they testing it? Off the coast of Iran? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38967883)

Where are they testing it? Off the coast of Iran?

Go Black Mesa! Bring on the Cacodemons! (1)

CYDVicious (834329) | more than 2 years ago | (#38967961)

I came to Kick ass and chew bubble gum, and I am all out of gum...

In Mother Russia.... (1)

mitashki (1116893) | more than 2 years ago | (#38968041)

...they are hecticly spraying all their tanks with an anti-railgun paint.

Re:In Mother Russia.... (1)

gtall (79522) | more than 2 years ago | (#38968245)

And it will be a handy excuse for their next space screwup:

Engineer: Sir, it just went poof.

Russian Official: Wha? How?

Engineer: Must have been the USN's railgun sir.

Russian Official: But, but, but...it was already on Mars.

Engineer: It's a very BIG railgun sir.

Re:In Mother Russia.... (5, Funny)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 2 years ago | (#38968265)

"When all you have is a railgun, everything starts to look like a smoking crater."

"Velocitas eradico"? (1)

srussia (884021) | more than 2 years ago | (#38968181)

Just put mottos in English already. This is getting embarrassing.

Re:"Velocitas eradico"? (2)

PatPending (953482) | more than 2 years ago | (#38969787)

"velocitas eradico" translates to "get rid of speed" (according to Google). Get rid of speed? How about "victoria ad velox" instead? ("For a swift victory" or "Victory through Speed")

Obsoleting their own fleet? (3, Insightful)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 2 years ago | (#38968213)

Truly, if nothing makes a carrier more obsolete is a weapon that can hit one where there will likely be no practical defense. Is any surface ship safe from such a weapon? Yes I know you can definitely pilot an evasive course but you have to know your being attacked before you can do that.

So how many years before a surface fleet is rendered obsolete? All the quotes in the article about giving sailors more options and precision are too easily reversed.

Re:Obsoleting their own fleet? (1)

mdsolar (1045926) | more than 2 years ago | (#38968453)

Good point. But why would you need a surface fleet if a submarine fleet would do a better job. The carrier group projects force, but a rail gun equipped sub group projects more. TFA mentions using the rail guns for carrier protection against missiles too.

Re:Obsoleting their own fleet? (3, Informative)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 2 years ago | (#38968471)

Truly, if nothing makes a carrier more obsolete is a weapon that can hit one where there will likely be no practical defense. Is any surface ship safe from such a weapon? Yes I know you can definitely pilot an evasive course but you have to know your being attacked before you can do that.

Not sure I see how this will make a carrier obsolete, really.

It's not like a carrier is really worried about 5" shellfire, even at extended ranges - the big missiles with 450+ kg warheads are much more of a problem, really.

However, as to evading fire from such a weapon. At 200 km, and 2500 m/s muzzle speeds, we're talking pretty near two minutes (yes, it loses speed the whole way, so it won't be anywhere near as quick as 200/2.5 travel time) between shot and landing. And our radars can detect a shell-sized object now (that's what counterbattery radar is for, after all), so you have a minute or more to change your projected position by 200 meters - you can manage that without even turning, just speed up/down as needed.

This ignoring the detail that you won't even be able to see the carrier at 200 km without aerial surveillance, and the carrier air group will be doing its best to make sure your aerial surveillance quickly becomes sub-surface surveillance....

Re:Obsoleting their own fleet? (1)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | more than 2 years ago | (#38969767)

And our radars can detect a shell-sized object now (that's what counterbattery radar is for, after all), so you have a minute or more to change your projected position by 200 meters - you can manage that without even turning, just speed up/down as needed

The key would be the rep rate. If the rail gun can only launch every minute or so, it's not much better than current gunpower big guns.
On the other hand, if the rep rate is multiple rounds per second, a ship would have a hard time evading a swarm of projectiles. Even a big ship would have trouble with dozens of 5" slugs hitting the engine room.

Anyway, you'd first send in your jets to pulverize the rail gun before you got into its range.

Re:Obsoleting their own fleet? (1)

chainsaw1 (89967) | more than 2 years ago | (#38968591)

When you consider supercavitating torpedoes that are approaching or surpassing the speed of sound in water (and have active homing), things like this, and actual DE weapons (closure rate close to c) in development there are a lot of hazards out there.

Yes, each new technology can be use against you. Science is science, the will to use (and how to use) is an invention of man. However, by knowing about and having these items first, you have time to develop defenses. You also have the means to test those defenses since you have the weapon systems already. This is why we press forward with R&D in the military.

Further, there is significant political traction by saying we have these items. If that alone leads to a peaceful solution without actually having to use systems of destruction, then hasn't that weapon still paid off?

Many would say the value is in fact greater than if it was actually used, as no one ended up getting hurt as would happen in a conventional conflict. Others may have different opinions...

Re:Obsoleting their own fleet? (2)

demonbug (309515) | more than 2 years ago | (#38969197)

When you consider supercavitating torpedoes that are approaching or surpassing the speed of sound in water (and have active homing)...

Interesting, I wasn't aware of any torpedoes moving at close to 3,500 mph (speed of sound in seawater is ~1560 m/s). Or did you mean the torpedoes exceed the speed of sound in air at sea level? Even that I find hard to believe, as everything I have seen indicates top speeds in the realm of 200-350 mph.

Great, got sidetracked thinking about detecting supersonic jets acoustically - if an F-22 is headed straight at you over the ocean flat out, assuming you have a sensitive enough microphone in the water, you should be able to hear it coming before it gets to you if you are more than ~22 miles away. So, uh, there's that.

Re:Obsoleting their own fleet? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38968943)

Worth considering that Mortar teams based in Kandahar airport during the Afghanistan campaign were able to detect incoming mortars on radar, calculate where they'd been launched from based on their arc, and return fire at the launch site before the mortars had landed.

With a railgun you've got much less time to react, but if you can detect them you should be able to either evade or at the very least return fire. There's also the consideration that a projectile moving at Mach 5 isn't going to do a huge amount of damage; it'll punch a nice clean hole through your ship, but won't damage much outside its own movement corridor unless it hits something like an ammunition locker. You can mitigate that kind of damage the same way you would on an aircraft; fly-by-wire design and massive redundancies.

It'd obsolete most current designs if used as a ship to ship weapon, but that's the point. Not many nations could handle the redesign and development of their ships needed, which reduces your opposition to a handful of relatively rich nations.

That said, this is all predicated on it being used as a ship to ship weapon; it strikes me as being more useful to shoot down incoming artillery and missiles.

Re:Obsoleting their own fleet? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38969455)

How are we suppose to kill Devastator without this modern technicle marvel. Wont somebody think of the giant robot testicles?

Re:Obsoleting their own fleet? (1)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | more than 2 years ago | (#38969465)

The Fleet won't be obsolete if you can use some other weapon system to knock out their rail gun before you get in range. Then your fleet brings in the troops and other heavy equipment.

Or, you make sure your floating rail guns are the biggest on the planet.

Working In Dahlgren (1)

ClosedEyesSeeing (1278938) | more than 2 years ago | (#38968231)

"The prototype launcher is now being prepared for testing which is scheduled to take place in the coming weeks." As someone who works on the naval base, I've been hearing them test this for a long time. Also, my car alarm gets tired of going off because of it.

Re:Working In Dahlgren (1)

Whorhay (1319089) | more than 2 years ago | (#38968527)

The article seemed to indicate that this was a new prototype for them to test. There were several mentions of ongoing testing of previous prototypes.

Gauss Cannon anyone? (2)

gentryx (759438) | more than 2 years ago | (#38968351)

Or am I the only one remembering this from the good old BattleTech times? BTW: I want my Warhammer equipped with dual Gauss cannons, please. ^^

Huh? (4, Funny)

assertation (1255714) | more than 2 years ago | (#38968361)

What does it do, shoot Ruby developers off of ships?

Re:Huh? (3, Funny)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 2 years ago | (#38968639)

As a former ruby fan ...

Finally, something useful to do with Rails developers!

The future is happening now (4, Interesting)

assertation (1255714) | more than 2 years ago | (#38968415)

Ray guns on ships, putty that can heal broken bones in days, robotic military planes, hand held computers.

I have to say these are interesting times. The "future" ( a sci-fi like world ) is happening right now

Re:The future is happening now (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38968539)

All that but we haven't yet figured out how to cure the common cold, headaches, or even athlete's foot.

Re:The future is happening now (1)

bmxeroh (1694004) | more than 2 years ago | (#38968865)

Tinactin?

Re:The future is happening now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38968967)

When your "fungal" infection isn't cured by an anti-fungal I recommend also using an anti-bacterial since bacteria may have infected the sore caused by the fungal infection.

Re:The future is happening now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38969053)

Still waiting for flying cars, positronic brains, fusion energy, and FTL travel...

Re:The future is happening now (1)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | more than 2 years ago | (#38969627)

Still waiting for cars with decent mileage, people willing to use their brains, a rational energy policy and no-TSA travel...

There, fixed that for you.

Re:The future is happening now (1)

dkf (304284) | more than 2 years ago | (#38970115)

Still waiting for flying cars, positronic brains, fusion energy, and FTL travel...

Flying cars require a fancy power source to be energetically viable. "Positronic brains" (leaving aside the whole "positronic" word, which Asimov said was just said for effect) requires solving the Hard AI Problem, which progress is being made on but it's turned out to be really hard. Fusion is available provided you don't want to extract useful energy out of it; getting energy out has required learning a shit-load of stuff about plasma physics and advanced materials. I'd guess that AI and fusion power are things that will happen, and flying cars won't happen (on anything other than an occasional curiosity level) for mundane reasons like the need for pilots licenses.

FTL travel is the big one. Nobody knows how to do FTL travel, or if they do they're not telling. I'd love to know how to even begin to crack that one on a practical level, especially as it would potentially solve all sorts of problems with space exploration. (I'd particularly like wormholes as in Pandora's Star as that would let people travel without the awkwardness of needing spaceships most of the time.) But it requires something that is believed impossible (or at least permanently out of reach) according to current theory, so I guess we'd better come up with other ideas for how to live without it. Or maybe we need to realize that the universe is not what we think it is, but that only helps if we're becoming more correct, not less...

Re:The future is happening now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38969589)

The "future" ... is happening right now

No, no, that's the present.

The future will look more like Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome.

This makes me very happy... (1)

Liam_Whinery (2505682) | more than 2 years ago | (#38969251)

now if we can just get some Mechs to carry them.

Re:This makes me very happy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38970181)

Where have you been?

This just in from some Chinese spy hiding in an Area 51 shrub...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RVV-ozgxxtY&feature=related

Where is Cave Johnson when you need him? (1)

DarthVain (724186) | more than 2 years ago | (#38970029)

We're not banging rocks together here people, this is science!

Now all we need is some sort of AI to aim the thing and we'll be all set!

Mach 7 or 8 (1)

Khyber (864651) | more than 2 years ago | (#38970039)

Out into orbit in less than a minute. Cripes that's fast.

frikkin' sharks with railguns on their heads (1)

swschrad (312009) | more than 2 years ago | (#38970049)

will wonders never cease

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