The USA Strategic Capabilities Office (SCO) was set up four years ago to find and develop new uses for existing technologies, as well as making them cheaper and faster to get into service with troops.
One of the SCO’s priorities was adapting technology from “railguns”. Such guns use neither explosives nor propellant, but instead rely on electromagnetic forces to fire projectiles at speeds of up to 4,500mph – 50pc faster than conventional weapons – with greater range and destructive force.
The high velocity projectile is being adapted for Navy 5-Inch; Navy, Marine Corps, and Army 155-mm systems; and future electromagnetic (EM) railguns.
BAE has been working with the US Navy for years, and landed several development contracts to develop railguns and the so-called “hypervelocity” projectiles they fire. Mr Carter said some of the advances from the research are being used in existing weapons.
“The SCO has got a project on gun-based missile defence, where we’re taking some of the same hypervelocity smart projectiles that we developed for the electromagnetic gun – that’s the railgun,” Mr Carter said.
He said that instead of using railguns’ projectiles for offensive purposes, they could be used defensively in conventional systems, for purposes such as shooting down other missiles.
Just over month ago the SCO had tested firing high-speed missiles from a Paladin self-propelled howitzer – a system built by BAE – and found that it “significantly increased” the weapon’s range.
The US military has “hundreds” of Paladins in its arsenal that could benefit from the advance, Mr Carter said.
AE’s Paladin self-propelled guns have test-fired the hyper-velocity projectiles
The Hyper Velocity Projectile is basically a flying hypersonic spike and is launched in a similar fashion as the sabot rounds fired by Main Battle Tanks. The super low-drag spike of a projectile whizzes through the air at hyper-velocity speeds (around 5,600mph), hence its name. Oh yeah, and it is guided.
The HVP’s sleek design allows it travel much farther than tradition naval gun shells, from 30 to over 100 miles depending on what it’s fired out of.
The HPV projectile will have different versions
* an air burst
* a kinetic energy penetrator
* high-explosive round.
Because of its high-speed and miniaturized and hardened internal guidance, it could be used against surface and a ground targets, but it could also be employed against air threats, as well.
If network connectivity is added to the HVP’s design, it could be guided in-flight with command updates coming from external sensors. This means it can hit moving vehicles using a remote sensor’s data, such as from an unmanned aircraft or a ship’s radar system. Under such a scenario, a HVP could be launched from 100 miles away, toward an enemy land mass, and a loitering unmanned aircraft tracking a vehicle could provide the projectile with terminal targeting information. The whole engagement would last about one minute.
It also means that the HVP could one day become more deadly than a surface-to-air missile, as its speed makes it almost impossible to defend against.
“BAE Systems is applying its expertise and technology to develop a hyper velocity projectile (HVP) using innovative and proven technologies,” said Joe Senftle, vice president and general manager of the company’s weapon systems business. “The HVP is a next-generation, guided projectile that will give the US Navy increased velocity, precision and extended range to address a variety of current and future threats.”