Guided Hypervelocity Projectiles and Railguns Could Revive Navy GunShip Designs

Around the time of WW2 Navy ships transitioned from Battleships and ships with large cannons to the era of ships mainly carrying planes with bombs. Later ships used planes with missiles or launched missiles directly.

Hypervelocity projectiles will shoot over twice as fast as current projectiles from the same navy guns. They would boost range from 30 miles to over 100 miles depending on what it’s fired out of.

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. Under such a concept, a Destroyer’s AEGIS combat system, including its powerful phased-array radars, can track an enemy fighter 20 miles away, and fire off a HVP with its existing 5-inch gun. The HVP will use mid-course updates from the ship’s radar sent to it via data-link. The whole engagement would last under 15 seconds, and the projectile’s speed would make it nearly impervious to evasive maneuvers.

There is work needed to improve the durability of gun barrels for the new weapons. Also there is work towards mach 7 railguns. Railguns would need ships to carry 70 megawatts to a gigawatt of power to fire the railguns. The higher power level would be for a ship with many railguns.

The range of mach 7 or 8 railguns would be 200-300 miles.