In May, 2017, General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems (GA-EMS) announced they successfully fired hypersonic projectiles with an enhanced Guidance Electronics Unit (GEU). They were successful in tests during multiple firings from their three mega joule (3 MJ) Blitzer™ railgun system. The enhanced GEU containing a new battery configuration and running GA-EMS developed Guidance, Navigation, and Control software, completed testing at launch accelerations over 30,000 Gees at the U.S. Army Dugway Proving Ground in Utah.
“We’re continuing to test at an impressive pace, building on the successes over the past year to advance both our Blitzer railgun systems and hypersonic projectile capabilities,” stated Nick Bucci, vice president Missile Defense and Space Systems at GA-EMS. “We are on track to conduct another series of tests using the Blitzer 10 MJ railgun system later this year. With each new firing, we continue maturing the technologies and performing risk reduction toward a multi-mission railgun weapon system that supports future operation on land and at sea.”
The GEU tests also successfully demonstrated a continuous two-way data link between the in-flight projectiles and the ground station over the Dugway Proving Ground open range. In addition to the GEU, a new lightweight composite sabot was tested, demonstrating successful sabot separation and in bore structural integrity at the high acceleration levels.
GA-EMS has internally funded the Blitzer railgun systems and hypersonic projectile development. Blitzer railguns are test assets that include a launcher, high density pulsed power, and weapon fire control system. GA-EMS recently announced the development and completion of the High Energy Pulsed Power Container (HEPPC) which provides twice the energy density of existing pulsed power systems. The HEPPC is intended to reduce the footprint for pulsed power required to launch projectiles, offering greater flexibility for future Navy and Army railgun applications.
GA demonstrated a new lightweight composite sabot, achieving successful sabot separation and maintaining in-bore structural integrity at high acceleration levels.
General Atomics Electro Magnetic Systems (GA-EMS) is assembling a 10 MJ railgun in preparation for shipping to Utah, where the company will begin readying the weapon system for testing in 2018.
BAE Systems has a competing railgun. A 32 Megajoule prototype was delivered by BAE Systems. BAE’s railgun can shoot up to 220 miles in range, around 10 times the distance capable of standard ship mounted guns with rounds landing more swiftly and with little or no warning compared to a volley of Tomahawk cruise missiles.
BAE is working to increasing the firing rate of their railgun and to build a barrel that can last for 1000 shots or more.