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The US Navy's Railgun Program

samzenpus posted about 2 years ago | from the shoot-em-if-you-got-em dept.

The Military 321

RougeFive writes "Imagine a warship weapon that can launch projectiles at Mach 10 without explosives (more than three times the muzzle speed of an M16 rifle), that has a range of 220 miles and that uses the enormous speed to destroy the target by causing as much damage as a Tomahawk missile. Meet the U.S. Navy's electromagnetic railgun program."

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321 comments

Fear it Iran (0, Flamebait)

binarylarry (1338699) | about 2 years ago | (#41517675)

We're going Schwarzenegger on your ass!

and north korea is next! (0)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 2 years ago | (#41518075)

and north korea is next!

Re:Fear it Iran (0)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 2 years ago | (#41518295)

Haha, modded "flamebait".

Perhaps some of you jokers missed the point of the saying, "Speak softly and carry a big stick" It's all flamebait.

Re:Fear it Iran (1)

lister king of smeg (2481612) | about 2 years ago | (#41518395)

Its called politic when you are in charge of a superpower, trolling when your on a forum kidding around. go figure

Re:Fear it Iran (4, Funny)

X0563511 (793323) | about 2 years ago | (#41518607)

Better than speaking big and carrying soft sticks.

When will Target have them in stock? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41517681)

Muhahaha, now I can start building my evil empire!

Is this news? (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41517701)

Re:Is this news? (1)

X0563511 (793323) | about 2 years ago | (#41518619)

Because people who have not heard of them would discard it as science fiction or game stuff?

Needs a name (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41517713)

I recommend Mikoto Misaka.

Re:Needs a name (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41517971)

I recommend anime that doesn't suck.

Old news... (5, Informative)

Valor958 (2724297) | about 2 years ago | (#41517717)

In and of itself.. this article is very lacking and at face value is old news. We have been developing railguns for a long time. We have the principles down, but the problem comes with the energy needed to really run a weapons effective version.
Even the linked article just referrences an overview of the technology and it's goals. Why not an update... did they make a breakthrough? SOMETHING...

Re:Old news... (2)

binarylarry (1338699) | about 2 years ago | (#41517761)

What they need is some kind of ship with a nuclear reactor that can generate enormous amounts of power.

Now I wonder who has technology like that in the pipe?

Re:Old news... (1)

Valor958 (2724297) | about 2 years ago | (#41517785)

Well they knew that, but the problem is having an extra reactor JUST to power the rail gun. Then miniaturizing it, and having one for each gun... or one powerful enough to run multiple guns.
Me thinks we're still a ways off from something effective beyond testing or flexing.

Re:Old news... (2)

ericloewe (2129490) | about 2 years ago | (#41517909)

Extra reactors are much safer than carrying around tons of high-explosives, and you get some extra room to carry the inert ordnance.

Re:Old news... (4, Interesting)

Nadaka (224565) | about 2 years ago | (#41518183)

Next gen aircraft carries are already putting in an extra reactor in order to run electromagnetic launch catapults instead of the high maintenance hydraulic ones we have now.

When that power isn't being used for launching aircraft, it can be used for launching railgun projectiles.

Re:Old news... (2)

idontgno (624372) | about 2 years ago | (#41518689)

The only sticking point is that an aircraft carrier is not a gun cruiser. Or even a destroyer.

Frankly, a CVN is not supposed to get within gun range of anything that can shoot back. That's what its warplanes are for.

Things may be a little different if "gun range" is more than 100 miles, but again... a carrier full of warplanes and unmanned combat air vehicles doesn't need a popgun, even if it's a railgun.

Maybe smaller railguns for point defense... assuming they can be rapid-fire and have better range than current 20-30mm gatling guns. And you're willing to accept friendly fire on your destroyer screen from all the strays.

If this railgun will be the primary weapon of any type of ship, it would be a destroyer or littoral combat ship (LCS), assuming you can build electrical generation capabilities for it that fit into ships of that smallish size.

The number one reason for guns on ships (instead of missiles, drones, or warplanes) is cheap shore bombardment. Considering full-up system costs, armed drones may be cheaper.

I don't wanna pooh-pooh cool tech that blows stuff up, but this seems like a solution looking for a problem to solve. Unless we're gonna go back to big-gun cruisers mostly for naval gunfire support, I don't see the point. (Although I'm sure the Marines would appreciate it.)

I can only envision one situation where the current naval airpower solution wouldn't work: opposed amphibious operations against an opponent with a strong air defense network. And then, the first thing you do is blind it using stealth assets and saturation cruise missile strikes, a la Gulf War I. Problem solved.

Re:Old news... (3, Funny)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 2 years ago | (#41518755)

Frankly, a CVN is not supposed to get within gun range of anything that can shoot back. That's what its warplanes are for.

Put a socket on the side and run a fucking massive(tm) extension cable to the gunboat or whatever the nouveau battlecruiser is called.

Bunch of thickies round here.

Re:Old news... (2)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 2 years ago | (#41517935)

What they need is some kind of ship with a nuclear reactor that can generate enormous amounts of power.

Actually, what they most likely need is some sort of fast-startup generator for the short peak power periods required by such a weapon, e.g., something like an MHD generator.

Re:Old news... (2)

jafiwam (310805) | about 2 years ago | (#41518135)

What they need is some kind of ship with a nuclear reactor that can generate enormous amounts of power.

Actually, what they most likely need is some sort of fast-startup generator for the short peak power periods required by such a weapon, e.g., something like an MHD generator.

If they haven't changed plans drastically, the peak power is handled by huge capacitors. So it's a reliable and large capacitor problem, plus a "we need more overall electrical output than we used to" problem. A nuclear power run ship makes a lot of sense if you are going to be using lots of power. For multi-shots, they may have to just add more capacitors and count on some lag time between bursts.

Re:Old news... (0)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 2 years ago | (#41518205)

That's for the purpose of a single shot. What about recharging the capacitors between several shots? They won't be willing to wait and it's not exactly a simple thing to change the power output of a Rankine cycle nuclear power plant at a whim. There are significant latencies involved. An MHD plant should be able to run at full power within seconds and then shut down almost instantly.

Re:Old news... (5, Interesting)

Phanatic1a (413374) | about 2 years ago | (#41518765)

"They won't be willing to wait and it's not exactly a simple thing to change the power output of a Rankine cycle nuclear power plant at a whim."

Actually, it is, it's called a throttle. When you're in a nuclear submarine puttering along at 5 knots and someone drops a torpedo on you, and you want to get up to 30+ knots as fast as you can, you do it. You take more heat out of the coolant, which cools down the water in the reactor, which increases the reaction rate, which produces more power, this relationship is very tight and the changes can happen very rapidly. Way more rapidly than shoveling in more coal.

The power source is a non-issue. Gas turbine, nuclear, whatever, there's plenty of available power. A single destroyer carries 4 gas turbine engines that are each capable of 40,000+ shaft horsepower. It's generation capacity that's more of an issue, but even that just means "wait for a longer period of time between shots."

The means of delivering electrical power to the projectile without arcing destroying the rails is an issue. Ideally you want all the current in the world at as low a voltage as you can manage it, so capacitors aren't as good as a magnetohomopolar generator. But getting the power to put into the capacitors of MHG is not a complex problem.

Re:Old news... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41518669)

The US Navy has been evaluating designs of all-electric powered warships for thirty years or more. The main difference with current warships (like the Arleigh Burke) would be electric motor main propulsion instead of reduction gear off gas turbines. Nothing they (or Congress) are quite comfortable with yet. Destroyers and cruisers would be based on gas turbine generators which have been getting 40+% total thermodynamic efficiencies in operation for some time (vs 25-35% for the old steam boiler warships). IIRC, the Navy proposed an all-electric warship for construction within the last year or two, but it was shelved (as in "maybe next year, let's stick with Arleigh Burkes for now"). Gas-turbine driven generators combined with capacitors would provide enough electricity for railguns in those designs.

Just as an aside, if you want to design starships for games or stories, I recommend you examine US Navy warship design. There are documents "out there" (however boring) on the design requirements and design process. Observing how Navy designers have dealt with often directly conflicting requirements, and indirectly conflicting requirements can be directly applied to starship design, non-combat as well as combat; they are both many, many dimensional optimization problems.

Re:Old news... (1, Informative)

SnarfQuest (469614) | about 2 years ago | (#41518563)

What they need is some kind of ship with a nuclear reactor that can generate enormous amounts of power.

Now I wonder who has technology like that in the pipe?

Obama is giving the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt billions to buy German submarines. Maybe they will have enough electrical power mount railguns. That should allow them to handle their primary stated goal of killing Jews.

Old holes... (2)

Ostracus (1354233) | about 2 years ago | (#41517883)

The power source is now a black hole. Oh wait! Skip the gun and throw the black hole at the target.

Re:Old holes... (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 2 years ago | (#41518803)

The power source is now a black hole. Oh wait! Skip the gun and throw the black hole at the target.

That's not what the Russians are planning. But it has a sort of symmetry.

Re:Old news... (5, Informative)

EvolutionInAction (2623513) | about 2 years ago | (#41517913)

Unfortunately you're dead wrong. We can power them. Maybe not easily, but we can do it. The problem is that you get something like three shots before the rails have eroded to the point of uselessness. Too much friction, too much electrical arcing.

Re:Old news... (2)

sjames (1099) | about 2 years ago | (#41517965)

I'll bet the rails are cheaper to replace than 3 tomahawk missiles.

Re:Old news... (4, Insightful)

FileNotFound (85933) | about 2 years ago | (#41518293)

Yeah - but can you replace the rails while underway?

Here's something for you - a DDG carries 56 Tomahawks, but can load up to 96 if they carry nothing but Tomahawks in their VLS. Rate of fire - 1 missile per second.

The real question is, what are you going to shoot at that's only 200mi aways? 200mi might sound "far" but reality is that modern anti ship missiles have range 500-1000 miles.

No DDG is going to sail up to 200mi of a hostile to shoot it with a railgun when then can launch a Tomahawk with it's 800mi range for a Block III or 1500 for Block IIs.

Re:Old news... (2)

John Hasler (414242) | about 2 years ago | (#41518485)

> The real question is, what are you going to shoot at that's
> only 200mi aways?

Incoming antiship missiles.

Re:Old news... (2)

EvolutionInAction (2623513) | about 2 years ago | (#41518725)

Railguns are exactly the wrong answer for point defence. You want lots of material in the air for that. Railguns put one very, very fast projectile out.

Re:Old news... (1)

Baloroth (2370816) | about 2 years ago | (#41518789)

You wouldn't use or need a railgun for that, you'd use a missile (at long range, so it can guide in on the target) or a cannon at short range (so you don't need homing, you just shoot a ton of bullets and hope one hits, which is the system they use now). Lasers, now, those have some potential. Can't go over-the-horizon, but potentially much more efficient than current defense systems, which is why they are developing them.

No, railguns are to hit actual targets. 220mi isn't as long-range as a missile, but it is a hell of a lot cheaper in the long run, and you don't have to worry about the problems explosives introduce (such as having hundreds of tons of HE on your ship if it gets hit).

Re:Old news... (0)

EvolutionInAction (2623513) | about 2 years ago | (#41518749)

I love railguns, but the only thing I can think of for them to shoot is aircraft and satellites. Maybe ICBM defence as well? Things above the horizon, anyway.

Re:Old news... (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 2 years ago | (#41518239)

Automated replacement, just like with automated loading? And what if the contact surfaces were actually some kind of replaceable strips?

Re:Old news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41518709)

Yeah sure. I'd like to see you design a muzzle that just snaps together and still withstands the megaton magnetic forces generated. You must have flunked freshman physics. A useful railgun is less likely than a working fusion reactor. It's a con game to suck money out of the taxpayer.

Re:Old news... (1)

Znork (31774) | about 2 years ago | (#41518777)

It's certainly possible, but considering that the rails are subjected to the same force the projectile is and the tolerances are probably fairly important to prevent arcing and maintaining accuracy you may end up with a fairly heavy fixture that needs replacing. Replaceable strips might be possible, but I'd wager that part of the problem in producing replacable parts in a railgun is that pretty much everything apart from the projectile will end up welded into one piece.

Re:Old news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41518561)

Would a smaller version suffer the same rail damage? I'm thinking of a hand-held version that would fire projectiles just a few cm in size. (I.e., a rail handgun firing bullets.)

Re:Old news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41518363)

I'd settle for just a Youtube video where they blew up a watermelon with the son-of-a-gun.
Don't let us down like railgun.org did!

Steady... steady... (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41517739)

With a range of 220 miles, they'd better be damn sure they don't miss their target.

Re:Steady... steady... (0)

phil_aychio (2438214) | about 2 years ago | (#41517925)

...and hope nobody walks into the target line

Re:Steady... steady... (1)

aliquis (678370) | about 2 years ago | (#41518149)

For their own good maybe.

I don't know how much they care about others considering they are ok with dumpi^wshooting depleted uranium on others soil.

really ? (1)

boorack (1345877) | about 2 years ago | (#41518321)

Since when US army gives a crap about collateral damage ?

Re:really ? (2)

Anubis350 (772791) | about 2 years ago | (#41518417)

Good thing this is the USN then.

Re:really ? (1)

lister king of smeg (2481612) | about 2 years ago | (#41518449)

since the last several wars if collateral damage were not a factor the entire Mideast would probably be radioactive molten slag right now.

Wow (0)

Sparticus789 (2625955) | about 2 years ago | (#41517747)

I suspect that BAE had all it's employees sign on to Slashdot and get this article on the front page.

Re:Wow (3, Interesting)

Valor958 (2724297) | about 2 years ago | (#41517765)

Well... they need to drive interest since they just laid off some 160 people from their West Chester, Ohio plant.
http://www.wcpo.com/dpp/news/region_north_cincinnati/west_chester/bae-systems-to-lay-off-about-160-employees-at-west-chester-site [wcpo.com]
I know about this since I live very close by.

Re:Wow (1)

couchslug (175151) | about 2 years ago | (#41518093)

BAE doesn't give a fuck, they have more than enough government connections.

"Railgun" pieces, however redundant, get page hits.

let me know when... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41517775)

we can have handheld rail guns - quake3arena style.

Technology improving warfare! (4, Funny)

jellomizer (103300) | about 2 years ago | (#41517811)

Say it ain't so!

Hey look Ugg. Your club hurts, but I added a rock to the end of mine. Oh yea, well I have made a thinner club with a pointy edge to it so I can throw it at a distance. Oh yea. I put a sharp stone at the end of it so it will cut into my enemy further (and yes it has hunting applications too).

oh yea. Well I now can launch it with an other stick.
Heck I beat you with a more compact stick on a string.
By the way I have found to put sharper rocks at the end of sticks...

Hey check this out I found out how to melt rocks into this shiny stuff that doesn't shatter like a rock does, and I can grind it to make it sharper.

Yea I took your idea and made mine longer.

Yea, Well mine is sharper and better balanced.

Hey I just came back from China, I found this neat stuff that explodes.

Yea. I found I could make the direction better if I encase it metal that can contain and direct the explosion.

Well mine is bigger.

Well mine is more portable.

Well mine is more accurate.

Well mine can reload faster.

Well mine I can mass produce.

Well my big ones explode more.....

Re:Technology improving warfare! (4, Insightful)

evil_aaronm (671521) | about 2 years ago | (#41517917)

You can take people out of the stone age, but you can't take the stone age out of the people.

You missed one. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41517951)

You missed one MAJOR feature: cost.

New warfare is going to be all about cost. Nations/organizations battling on a ROI factor.

Case in point - Al Qu--whatever. They got a lot of dipshits who will die for Allah or whatever and they're giving the US a run for their money in those shitholes they're fighting in.

The US has all this high tech hardware that's been proven almost useless - the DRONES are being proven USEFULL.

You got a $190,000,000 aircraft? I got a 10 $10,000,000 aircraft that has a BETTER chance of shooting down the entire squadron of the $190M aircraft. You got ONE F-22 and a bunch of F-15s? So? I got 20+ Migs with assholes who'll die at any means to take YOU out.

And live to see another day.

President Eisenhower wasn't so far off (military industrial complex stuff), but he missed the fact of many many very poor people pissed off at the US for various reasons - and they'll die to hurt us.

People don't get it. They don't. Mitt RMoney is a moron. Obama sort of gets it.

Re:You missed one. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41518253)

Wars may be fought with weapons, but they are won by men. It is the spirit of men who follow and of the man who leads that gains the victory - George S. Patton

The "Al Qu--whatever" dipshits are giving us a run for our money because they're at least attempting to fight a war, our leaders, on the other hand, want to to make soldiers into a bunch of limp-dick humanitarians. Case in point: the recent "insider attack" trend in Afghanistan.

The REMFs think it's a good idea to buddy up our guys with some backwards piece of shit pretending to be Afghan military or police, in some futile effort to teach the "good guys" not to be a bunch of backwards motherfuckers in time for our eventual withdrawl, when that's all that's in their blood. That strategy (for lack of a better term) also worked great in the Vietnam War...For the enemy! Working with the Arvin was stupid, the only thing you could count of them for was to screw up at best, or at worst, shoot you in the back at the best opportunity.

Re:Technology improving warfare! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41518603)

http://www.universetoday.com/73536/nasa-considering-rail-gun-launch-system-to-the-stars/

You figure that's all a railgun is good for, killing things?

speed /= kinetic energy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41517829)

"Imagine a warship weapon that can launch projectiles at Mach 10 without explosives (more than three times the muzzle speed of an M16 rifle), that has a range 220 miles and that uses the enormous speed^H^H^H^H^H 'KINETIC ENERGY' to destroy the target by causing as much damage as a Tomahawk missile. Meet the US Navy's electromagnetic railgun program."

Re:speed /= kinetic energy (2)

confused one (671304) | about 2 years ago | (#41518033)

No, speed^2 * mass = kinetic energy.

Re:speed /= kinetic energy (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | about 2 years ago | (#41518123)

Do you know what happens when you launch something with that much energy into something solid, like the ground? It stops. That energy has to go somewhere.

Side-track. (1)

Ostracus (1354233) | about 2 years ago | (#41517845)

Wonderful! First our video games are on rails. Now our guns are.

Re:Side-track. (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 2 years ago | (#41518251)

Wonderful! First our video games are on rails. Now our guns are.

The difference is, with our guns you can choose the target.

What's old is new again (0, Offtopic)

Lucas123 (935744) | about 2 years ago | (#41517927)

Schwerer Gustav built rail guns for the Nazis in the late 1930s. Those twin guns weighed about 1,350 tons and could lob 80 centimeter shells weighing 7 tons up to 29 miles. Of course that was using gun powder and this new one uses electromagnets to toss shells 220 miles. Still, it's interesting how little guns in general have changed throughout history.

Re:What's old is new again (1)

confused one (671304) | about 2 years ago | (#41518053)

You keep using that word. I don't think that word means what you think it means.

Not talking about rail as in railroad...

Re:What's old is new again (2, Informative)

Antipater (2053064) | about 2 years ago | (#41518103)

Railgun [wikipedia.org]

vs. Railroad Gun [wikipedia.org]

Really?

Re:What's old is new again (0, Flamebait)

Lucas123 (935744) | about 2 years ago | (#41518157)

Wow. You're a genius. You can read Wikipedia. Tool.

Re:What's old is new again (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41518317)

Wow. Someone's cranky about being wrong, aren't they?

Re:What's old is new again (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41518245)

Posting AC in the hope of keeping my mods.

A gun on rails is not the same as a railgun: the former [wikipedia.org] is a very large, conventional weapon moving on train tracks while the latter [wikipedia.org] uses huge electrical currents to accelerate a projectile without explosives. AFAIK the projectile eschews explosives entirely, damaging the target by simply hitting it very hard*.

*As you may already know, kinetic energy is 1/2*m*v^2. Taking a 1kg projectile and accelerating it up to 3000m/s gives it 4.5MJ worth of oomph; that's about half of what an anti-tank round delivers and it's less than half what modern designs are capable of.

3 times the muzzle velocity of M16? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41517931)

Since when is M16 shooting bullets at Mach 3?

Re:3 times the muzzle velocity of M16? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41518115)

Only when the trigger is pulled and only for a second, maybe two. The rest of the time the bullets are going pretty slow.

Re:3 times the muzzle velocity of M16? (1)

tilante (2547392) | about 2 years ago | (#41518177)

Speed of sound: about 1100 feet per second.

Muzzle velocity of an M16: about 3200 feet per second. So, close enough to Mach 3 to call it that, with rounding.

Re:3 times the muzzle velocity of M16? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41518199)

M16 muzzle velocity: 3,110 ft/s (wikipedia)

Mach 1 = 1,125 ft/s

close enough

Re:3 times the muzzle velocity of M16? (1)

jafiwam (310805) | about 2 years ago | (#41518213)

5.56 NATO rounds (typical for an AR-15 or M-16) top out at around 2,900 feet per second for standard pressures and barrels. Most are somewhat under that for various reasons. At sea level, speed of sound is about 1,100 feet per second.

So, yeah, 3 times is a rounding point "ballpark" number for 2.7 times the speed of sound or so.

So, "since forever"

Re:3 times the muzzle velocity of M16? (1)

afidel (530433) | about 2 years ago | (#41518649)

Since the muzzle velocity with standard issue ammo is ~950 m/s which is within spitting distance of 1,021 m/s.

Challenges (1)

Verdatum (1257828) | about 2 years ago | (#41517937)

Articles on these types of "futuristic" technology projects so rarely take the time to explain the challenges involved in making it a viable tool. This article did. That was refreshing.

Hmm, should rather be used (0)

fisted (2295862) | about 2 years ago | (#41517949)

to eventually launch stuff into space in a clean fashion

those fucktards.

Re:Hmm, should rather be used (1)

Antipater (2053064) | about 2 years ago | (#41518147)

And how do we currently get into space? Oh right, via that other tech that started as a long-range weapons system.

Re:Hmm, should rather be used (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41518229)

the problem with this would be the rapid acceleration and subsequent g-load on the components as well as doing much weighting on the projectile, even if extremely balanced would make the projectile more likely to drag and weld itself to the rails, shorting out the cap bank and possibly causing an explosion or other energetic event due to a mach 10 projectile suddenly stopping and 1.21 GW (great scott!) suddenly having a direct path.

Explosives (4, Funny)

ShakaUVM (157947) | about 2 years ago | (#41517979)

""Imagine a warship weapon that can launch projectiles at Mach 10 without explosives..."

Well, that's not counting the railgun itself, I guess.

They tend to fail spectacularly.

Re:Explosives (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41518285)

railguns are purely eletrically based. They're well suited to nuclear aircraft carriers due to the power requirements. Long story short, charge crap ton of capacitors, discharge carefully down the rails, electromagnetically accelerate the projectile. no traditional explosives (gunpowder, plastics, etc) involved. It is still an energetic discharge.

http://youtu.be/g9Sd_wsYBUU?t=2m10s

smaller firing:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y54aLcC3G74

Re:Explosives (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41518331)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-uV1SbEuzFU

another...

Re:Explosives (1)

metrometro (1092237) | about 2 years ago | (#41518287)

Spectacular for the defense contractors, yes. It's fucking fantastic.

Re:Explosives (1)

John Hasler (414242) | about 2 years ago | (#41518543)

> They tend to fail spectacularly.

When guns fail they do so spectacularly, yes.

It must be real. (1)

Jaywalk (94910) | about 2 years ago | (#41518083)

It was in the movie [tfwiki.net] .

Re:It must be real. (1)

roc97007 (608802) | about 2 years ago | (#41518195)

I'm trying desperately to forget that movie ever existed.

Well... (0)

The Grim Reefer (1162755) | about 2 years ago | (#41518119)

The rational, and chronologically not so young part of me has to wonder if it's really worth the cost. Can all of the issues with these be overcome and does the cost of doing so make it worth pursuing. Also, the cynical side of me wonders what will happen if we continue with developing this kind of tech. Can it be used to nullify the the "no nukes in space" treaty? Who needs nukes when you can hurl big rocks at an enemy through a mass accelerator. But the young geek side of me thinks these are truly awesome and should be developed. Firing metal slugs would be cheaper than cruise missiles. Plus they would be safer to carry around. Perhaps the tech can be modified for launching satellites cheaply or somehow helping our space program. Or we may need them to arm our moon base against the oncoming alien hoard. Or we can miniaturize them to fit on dolphins, for protection from shark mounted lasers beams.

Re:Well... (1)

farble1670 (803356) | about 2 years ago | (#41518379)

Who needs nukes when you can hurl big rocks at an enemy through a mass accelerator.

it's not really clear if you are saying this is a good or bad thing. it's good in that there's no radiation, so it damages the target and the target only (if it hits), not the rest of the world for decades. the bad thing is that fact might make it see a lot more use than nuclear weapons.

Re:Well... (1)

The Grim Reefer (1162755) | about 2 years ago | (#41518673)

Who needs nukes when you can hurl big rocks at an enemy through a mass accelerator.

it's not really clear if you are saying this is a good or bad thing. it's good in that there's no radiation, so it damages the target and the target only (if it hits), not the rest of the world for decades. the bad thing is that fact might make it see a lot more use than nuclear weapons.

That's because I'm not sure. Dropping rocks from orbit would be a good last option to have I suppose. But it's pretty damn indiscriminate and will certainly kill a lot of civilians. That's pretty much how I feel about developing this kind of tech. It would be good to have if it's needed, but I hate the thought of what it means if it does get used.

And it'll be practical... (1)

roc97007 (608802) | about 2 years ago | (#41518175)

...in 50 years. We promise.

How high can it shoot? (1)

axehind (518047) | about 2 years ago | (#41518257)

If I point the rail gun straight up, how high can it launch one of it's projectiles?

Re:How high can it shoot? (1)

metrometro (1092237) | about 2 years ago | (#41518303)

If you're thinking about launch technology, keep an eye on that 6000g acceleration. Smoosh.

Re:How high can it shoot? (1)

John Hasler (414242) | about 2 years ago | (#41518571)

Not 6000g. 60,000g. WWII guns managed more than 6000g firing shells with clockwork inside.

Re:How high can it shoot? (1)

djmurdoch (306849) | about 2 years ago | (#41518373)

Pretty high, but not into orbit. Orbital velocity is about Mach 23, and escape velocity is about Mach 33. The imaginary railgun only goes to Mach 10.

Re:How high can it shoot? (4, Informative)

Deadstick (535032) | about 2 years ago | (#41518511)

You can't put anything in orbit with any gun, acting by itself. You must apply some thrust after the projectile reaches the desired height. If you don't do that, no matter how powerful the gun is, no matter how high the muzzle velocity is, no matter where you point it, one of two things will happen: it will hit the earth before completing one orbit, or it will fly away and never come back.

If you want to launch to orbit from a gun, you have to provide a rocket motor on the projectile that starts up at the appropriate point in the trajectory.

Here's another way to express it: you cannot achieve a repeating orbit whose low point (perigee) is higher than the last point at which thrust was applied. For a simple gun, that point is the muzzle.

Re:How high can it shoot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41518623)

Pretty high, but not into orbit. Orbital velocity is about Mach 23, and escape velocity is about Mach 33. The imaginary railgun only goes to Mach 10.

My railgun goes to 11......

Re:How high can it shoot? (1)

MarkvW (1037596) | about 2 years ago | (#41518753)

Pretty high, but not into orbit. Orbital velocity is about Mach 23, and escape velocity is about Mach 33. The imaginary railgun only goes to Mach 10.

Your railgun may only go to Mach 10, but mine goes to eleven.

Re:How high can it shoot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41518579)

air drag losses nothwithstanding,
mgh = .5mvv
2gh =vv
h = vv/2g
h = (3000)^2 /20 = 450km

Amazing (3, Insightful)

musth (901919) | about 2 years ago | (#41518315)

No reflection at all about the deep problems that our obsession with inflicting violence on other people has got us into.

If all-holy technology is used to build a bigger, faster something - even if it's a terrifying weapon in the hands of a murderous empire like the US - then slaver over it on Slashdot. Because its about technology, and its about the gunz, and it has to be cool.

Re:Amazing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41518493)

There's a difference between destroying infrastructure and "violence on people".

Modern warfare is far more selective with an initial, primary goal of taking out infrastructure. Personally I'd vote for WWII carpet bombing.

It's prolly a shipmate with a pirate mask, too. (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 2 years ago | (#41518377)

Can't wait until Eve Online nerfs this railgun, too.

And you can only mount 6 of 'em, or 5 and one platform for a guy with a machine gun to stand on to shoot rafts with guys with handguns that get too close. Which you need or the handgun raft will pew pew you while it drags your 100,000-ton battlrship to a halt with a rope and 7.5 hp Evinrude.

Gotta love game "balance" and "rock-paper-scissors" design.

I've had my railgun since '97 (1)

proca (2678743) | about 2 years ago | (#41518425)

It worked pretty well but it only did 100 damage. A tomahawk probably does more.

So what now? Build a new Bismarck? (1, Interesting)

tp1024 (2409684) | about 2 years ago | (#41518457)

Or another Hood? Or new Dreadnoughts?

See the problem? You're just reviving an old paradigma with all its old weaknesses - plus lack of any visual confirmation of hits whatsoever because you're firing way beyond the horizon, plus much longer time of flight due to distance. Accuracy just won't materialize in any way whatever, so you'll end up blanketing an area hoping to hit something sooner or later. If it's a moving target - forget about it.

Over the horizon rail guns? (2)

erice (13380) | about 2 years ago | (#41518589)

You can't hit an object 220 miles away surface to surface by firing in a straight line. There's a big ball of rock and water in the way. If you have to fire in a balistic arc, is the high velocity of a rail gun of much use?

It would be more exciting if... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41518615)

It would be more exciting if:

1. The barrel were long enough to keep the G-forces tolerable for humans.

2. The exit of the barrel were angled up.

3. The "projectile" was a spacecraft with an ablative coating that was jetisoned outside the atmosphere.

In other words, it'd be nice if you could get a large ammount of velocity before you even separated from the surface of the planet. Of course I'm sure they're nowhere near that. It might turn out not to be cost effective for humans; but it'd be interesting to see the "space gun" finally come into service for peaceful purposes. Ballistic launch has was big in early sci-fi. The rocket has won so far; but you never know how things might turn.

Us, Metal Gear players, (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41518735)

have known about this technology for quite a while now.

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