General Atomics will fund development of a 10 MJ medium-range railgun

GA has committed more than USD50 million of internal funding to develop its next railgun weapon system GA hopes that its successful development will increase US Navy and US Army interest General Atomics (GA) told IHS Jane’s that it will have committed significant company funds to develop its 10 megajoule (MJ) Multimission Medium Range Railgun Weapon System (MMRRWS) from 2007 to the end of testing in 2017.

Speaking to IHS Jane’s at the Navy League’s 2016 Sea-Air-Space symposium in mid-May, company officials said that GA had committed funds in excess of USD50 million, but declined to be exact.

Intended to complement or replace current US Navy (USN) 5-inch guns, if successful, the General Atomics MMRRWS would be able to intercept missiles and aircraft as well as conduct kinetic strikes against maritime or land targets. However in contrast to multimillion dollar missiles, a GA official noted a railgun hypersonic guided projectile could cost between USD25,000-50,000.

While the gun’s calibre has yet to be determined (perhaps between 90 mm and 100 mm), shells would have an interception envelope similar to the Patriot PAC-3 and initially use a “shotgun” round with tungsten pellets. For kinetic attack the round would have a ballistic range of about 100 km.

GA’s MMRRWS will be based on technologies already tested on GA’s smaller 3 MJ Blitzer railgun that started firing rounds in 2010. General Atomics also stresses its successful development of hypersonic projectiles – often viewed as the more difficult element of railgun technology – must withstand the 30,000 g stress of electromagnetic launch to speeds greater than Mach 5

SOURCES – IHS Janes, General Atomics