Railgun and Free Electron Laser programs funding is at risk

The Senate Armed Services Committee has approved its version of fiscal 2012 defense authorization bill without funding the railgun or free electron laser weapons programs.

The determination was that the Free Electron Laser has the highest technical risk in terms of being ultimately able to field on a ship, so we thought the Navy could better concentrate on other laser programs

With the Electromagnetic Railgun, the committee felt the technical challenges to developing and fielding the weapon would be daunting, particularly [related to] the power required and the barrel of the gun having limited life.

The process of passing a defense budget making it through no fewer than four committees and two floor votes, so it’s not like these programs cease to exist. But unless the Navy makes a big push for its futuristic weapons, both of them will die on the drawing board.

Defense budget primer (72 pages)

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