U.S. Navy Testing Electromagnetic Railgun at White Sands Missile Range

The U.S. Navy has started testing an electromagnetic railgun, on May 15, at the White Sands Missile Range (WSMR), an Army military testing area in southern New Mexico.

The test was the first firing series of the newly installed weapon at the site. The test is overseen by a detachment from Navy’s Naval Surface Warfare Center, Port Hueneme Division (NSWC PHD).

A total of four rounds were fired with full diagnostics and verification. Initial estimated test dates were reduced from three to two days due to the success of the firings. Subsequent tests will be scheduled, post performance-data analysis, to advance the weapon’s commissioning, said a statement from NSWC PHD.

“The installation of the railgun began earlier this year and required a large effort for the mount, gun, power controls, displays and functional ties into the range,” said Site Manager John Winstead. “The object of the test was essentially a shakedown of the newly-installed mount with accompanying power containers, controls and a fully functional execution team.”

“The tests were very successful and alleviated the need to have further installation and check-out testing required for verification,” said Winstead.

The electromagnetic railgun is viewed as an innovative warfighting capability fulfilling the Navy’s requirement for a long-range, multi-mission weapon. The gun was moved to WSMR from NSWC Dahlgren to conduct more advanced testing at an optimal range capacity.

BAE Systems' Electromagnetic Railgun Prototype
DAHLGREN, Va. (Jan. 12, 2017) The Office of Naval Research (ONR)-sponsored Electromagnetic Railgun (EMRG) at terminal range located at Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD). (U.S. Navy photo by John F. Williams)

Collateral achievements during initial research, development and testing of the weapon system have resulted in the hyper-velocity, precision-guided projectile designed for the railgun to be operationally viable in other weapons, such as the Navy 5-inch, 155mm, and other guns.

Advancements in electromagnetic railgun development and fielding have been attributed to pioneering research by NAVSEA scientists, retired Adm. James Hogg, and Hans Mark, who helped to establish the Navy Railgun Program and NSWC Dahlgren Division’s Electromagnetic Railgun Facility through support from the Office of Naval Research and Chief of Naval Operations’ Strategic Studies Group.



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