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posted by LaminatorX on Friday April 11 2014, @11:55AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the Gauss-him?-I-just-met-him! dept.

Allen McDuffee writes the US Navy's latest weapon is an electromagnetic railgun launcher that can hurl a 23-pound projectile at speeds exceeding Mach 7 with a range of 100 miles turning a destroyer into super-long-range machine gun able to fire up to a dozen relatively inexpensive projectiles every minute. The Navy says the cost differential $25,000 for a railgun projectile versus $500,000 to $1.5 million for a missile will make potential enemies think twice about the economic viability of engaging U.S. forces. "[It] will give our adversaries a huge moment of pause to go: 'Do I even want to go engage a naval ship?'" says Rear Admiral Matt Klunder. "Because you are going to lose. You could throw anything at us, frankly, and the fact that we now can shoot a number of these rounds at a very affordable cost, it's my opinion that they don't win."

Engineers already have tested this futuristic weapon on land, and the Navy plans to begin sea trials aboard a Joint High Speed Vessel Millinocket in 2016. Railguns use electromagnetic energy known as the Lorenz Force to launch a projectile between two conductive rails. The high-power electric pulse generates a magnetic field to fire the projectile with very little recoil, officials say. Weapons like the electromagnetic rail gun could help U.S. forces retain their edge and give them an asymmetric advantage over rivals, making it too expensive to use missiles to attack U.S. warships because of the cheap way to defeat them. "Your magazine never runs out, you just keep shooting, and that's compelling."

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  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by c0lo on Friday April 11 2014, @12:01PM

    by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Friday April 11 2014, @12:01PM (#29984) Journal
    I mean: what stops the others doing the same?
    --
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by isostatic on Friday April 11 2014, @12:05PM

      by isostatic (365) on Friday April 11 2014, @12:05PM (#29985) Journal

      The fact it costs $300k a minute to run, and most people that are trying to attack US warships earn $300 a year?

      This move is aimed at the Chinese, who depend less on the international economy and the mythical value of "1 dollar", "1 euro", "1 kg of gold" than the west.

    • (Score: 5, Informative) by Sir Garlon on Friday April 11 2014, @12:11PM

      by Sir Garlon (1264) on Friday April 11 2014, @12:11PM (#29987)

      Development time and cost. Other countries will catch up. Large countries like China and Russia will catch up first.

      What a railgun does is counter swarms of small, missile-armed boats, the current low-cost tactic to overwhelm US naval ships. So adversaries now need to develop a new tactic, which means years of planning, acquisitions, training, and deployment. Then the US will look to counter whatever new tactic they come up with. Lather, rinse repeat. This is a conventional arms race, which has been going on since at least the nineteenth century, and probably since the start of the neolithic period.

      --
      [Sir Garlon] is the marvellest knight that is now living, for he destroyeth many good knights, for he goeth invisible.
      • (Score: 3, Funny) by Woods on Friday April 11 2014, @01:22PM

        by Woods (2726) <woods12@gmail.com> on Friday April 11 2014, @01:22PM (#30023) Journal

        Not sure if Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal (Webcomic) can be considered obligatory yet, but:
        Oblig SMBC. [medium.com]

        • (Score: 2) by Marand on Friday April 11 2014, @09:09PM

          by Marand (1081) on Friday April 11 2014, @09:09PM (#30279) Journal

          Not sure if Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal (Webcomic) can be considered obligatory yet

          If not, it should be. The "oblig. " links wouldn't be so bad if people bothered linking to more than just xkcd and dilbert.

          • (Score: 2) by Marand on Friday April 11 2014, @09:12PM

            by Marand (1081) on Friday April 11 2014, @09:12PM (#30285) Journal

            That was supposed to be "oblig. <thing>" but I didn't expect a post as "Plain Old Text" to try making a tag out of it.

            Would have taught it if I had bothered previewing, but it was a short comment and it didn't seem necessary...

            • (Score: 1) by Woods on Friday April 11 2014, @09:34PM

              by Woods (2726) <woods12@gmail.com> on Friday April 11 2014, @09:34PM (#30296) Journal
              I know right? Plain old text that also parses basic HTML. Go figure. At least I can start a new line without having to use the <p> tags. Honestly, that is one of my favorite things about this comment system.
      • (Score: 2) by snick on Friday April 11 2014, @01:41PM

        by snick (1408) on Friday April 11 2014, @01:41PM (#30037)

        What a railgun does is counter swarms of small, missile-armed boats

        A high speed ballistic projectile (bullet on steroids) seems to be a poor choice to counter swarms of small , missile armed boats. The only guidance available is by pointing the barrel of the gun, and if the shot misses a boat by 1 inch, then all it does is make a pretty big splash.
        I would think that guided weapons, or explosive warheads, or weapons with projectiles that break up into multiple projectiles that cover an area as they approach the target would be more effective.
         

        • (Score: 2) by Sir Garlon on Friday April 11 2014, @02:07PM

          by Sir Garlon (1264) on Friday April 11 2014, @02:07PM (#30056)

          You're right that hitting the target is a challenge, but it's not an insurmountable one. As TFS points out, a guided missile costs half a million bucks or more, and their firing rate is limited by the number of launch tubes on the ship. A quick-firing, long-range, low-cost weapon can take out the swarm boats before they can get close enough to fire their own missiles -- if, as you say, the gun can hit. The US navy SPY-1 radar can track 100 targets at once [navy.mil]. TFA does not say how those $25,000 projectiles work but the high-speed video shows they have aerodynamic fins. Most artillery shells don't. It's quite possible, I'm just speculating, that those railgun "bullets" are radio controlled from the firing ship and can adjust course midflight to track a moving target.

          --
          [Sir Garlon] is the marvellest knight that is now living, for he destroyeth many good knights, for he goeth invisible.
          • (Score: 4, Interesting) by mojo chan on Friday April 11 2014, @05:49PM

            by mojo chan (266) on Friday April 11 2014, @05:49PM (#30176)

            The problem for large ships is that it only takes one or two missiles to take them out, and missiles have a range of hundreds of kilometres. Of course not all enemies have such missiles, but many do these days. Missiles move around in flight, this thing can't easily shoot them down and in fact a spread from a conventional anti-missile weapon would be more effective. Ship based radar is not all that effective with very small targets, which is why they manage to get close enough to do damage in the first place.

            Also, torpedoes. Other countries have some that travel at a few hundred kilometres an hour, and the US navy has no real defence against them. This is an interesting weapon but if the US decided to, say, take on Iran it wouldn't prevent quite a few ships being sunk.

            --
            const int one = 65536; (Silvermoon, Texture.cs)
            • (Score: 1) by DECbot on Friday April 11 2014, @11:08PM

              by DECbot (832) Subscriber Badge on Friday April 11 2014, @11:08PM (#30335) Journal

              The CIWS (R2-D2 looking Vulcan cannons) on US navy ships are 1980s anti-missile that have the capability to track its own bullets, make corrections, and continue firing until the target can no longer be identified with its radar. It wouldn't be a far fetch to put an updated algorithm into the weapons system to account for the longer range of the rail gun. The problem with the CIWS is it can deplete its magazine in less than 2 minutes, and it is a 30 minute to 2-hour evolution to reload. Not the ideal scenario when being swarmed by small boats. You have to wait for them to get close, and hope to get them all before you run out of ammunition. Also the ammunition from the rail gun would put a little bit larger dent into the boat than the 25mm depleted uranium rounds used in the CWIS.

              --
              cats~$ sudo chown -R us /home/base
          • (Score: 2) by frojack on Friday April 11 2014, @06:23PM

            by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Friday April 11 2014, @06:23PM (#30194) Journal

            The video seems to suggest the fins are used for spinning the projectile, (for stabilization), rather than aiming. (Not to suggest the fins can't do both, but at the speeds quoted its a lot more difficult).

            There is also something odd about the video, in that there is a pronounced combustion cloud around the muzzle. This didn't occur in earlier videos of test guns on Dougway UT proving ground. In those prior videos there was a smallish water vapor cloud formation, but no combustion blast.

            --
            No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
            • (Score: 2) by frojack on Friday April 11 2014, @07:18PM

              by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Friday April 11 2014, @07:18PM (#30219) Journal

              By the way, here is a video describing the projectile. The fins are not for steering, simply stabilization.

              https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NEmgSpJK9qQ [youtube.com]

              --
              No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
            • (Score: 2, Funny) by DECbot on Friday April 11 2014, @11:16PM

              by DECbot (832) Subscriber Badge on Friday April 11 2014, @11:16PM (#30339) Journal

              The admiral in charge of the testing was concerned that there was no fiery flash from the gun when being fired, unlike the traditional battleship guns. Pyrotechnics were later to the rail gun to ensure there was a fiery flash. Contracts where then awarded after the fiery flash was fixed.

              --
              cats~$ sudo chown -R us /home/base
        • (Score: 4, Insightful) by JeanCroix on Friday April 11 2014, @02:24PM

          by JeanCroix (573) on Friday April 11 2014, @02:24PM (#30061)
          I guarantee that if a 23-pound projectile hit the water at mach 7 only one inch from your small boat, you'd no longer be happily traveling along in your small boat. And if it missed by enough that you were still happily traveling along in your small boat, remember that the next one is incoming in 5 seconds. With adjusted targeting.
        • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Runaway1956 on Friday April 11 2014, @03:49PM

          by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Friday April 11 2014, @03:49PM (#30108) Homepage Journal

          I don't think that you appreciate what that big splash signifies. A near miss can be quite deadly. That boat that was coming at me at high speed? I missed him by about 20 feet - I shot right if front of him. There was a hell of a lot of energy in that shot. That energy went somewhere - like, right into the water. Have you ever felt an underwater explosion? Remember, sound, and shockwaves travel faster underwater than they do through the air. That boat is taking damage. How much? Probably a helluva lot.

          The boat will take somewhat less damage if I miss by 20 feet to either side, but it's still going to hurt.

          Probably can't miss by 20 feet behind him - but if that shot screams through the air 20 feet over his head, people on deck are still going to be hurting. Again, the question is, how bad? Hmmm - I know for a fact that being in the line of fire of a puny 5" 54 caliber main gun can bring you to your knees. These rail guns carry a LOT more energy than a 5" 54. I suspect that any unprotected personnel standing topside when a railgun projectile sails overhead are going to be deafened, hammered to their knees, and pretty useless for a minute or ten. The boat will remain seaworthy, but the personnel are going to suffer a little.

          Personally, I don't want to stand downrange to find out. My imagination is more than sufficient, thank you.

          --
          "I didn't lose to him!" - The Donald referring to Trippin' Joe
          • (Score: 1) by MozeeToby on Friday April 11 2014, @05:20PM

            by MozeeToby (1118) on Friday April 11 2014, @05:20PM (#30153)

            Also important, how hard is it to hit a target when your computer stabilized, auto-tracking, auto-leading railgun fires it's slug at 2000 meters per second? It's not like you have to lead the target here... we're talking about taking out boats at a few hundred meters, aim for center mass and pull the trigger. Point-blank for this thing is effectively the horizon.

            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 11 2014, @08:22PM

              by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 11 2014, @08:22PM (#30257)

              I thought one of the important features here was range. This railgun has a range of 100 miles, which is comparable to fairly high-tech missiles. At 100 miles, 2 km/s is almost a minute and a half of flight time. That is, if your enemy is in missile range, then flight time, even at mach 7, is significant, and you should expect to miss a lot. If you can fire 12 rounds/minute, you can fire a spread big enough to counter that, but you're basically trading 12 $25,000 projectiles, one of which is likely to hit for 1, $1M missile that will hit.

              If your enemy is in range where mach 7 travel time is irrelevant, then they're also in range where standard guns, firing $100 or $1000 shells can hit them pretty well.

              • (Score: 1) by MozeeToby on Friday April 11 2014, @09:07PM

                by MozeeToby (1118) on Friday April 11 2014, @09:07PM (#30277)

                The use is two fold.

                One is what you are talking about, what used to be called coastal bombardment (with a 100+ mile range that is no longer an accurate name IMO). The purpose wouldn't be to take out moving targets, rather to eliminate known hardened positions for a fraction the cost of a cruise missile. A tomahawk missile costs $600,000 for instance, compared to $25,000 for this. Put GPS and control fins on the shell and you've got comparable accuracy too, though I don't know if this is planned for this system.

                The second use is to take out small, fast, cheap ships (usually equipped with small short ranged missiles) in an asymmetric war. Numerous naval war games have shown the US Navy to be susceptible to those kinds of attacks, fighting a war of attrition with relatively cheap boats taking potshots at our multibillion dollar warships. Again it comes down to cost, if it takes $20,000 to fire a round from this rail gun and you can take out a $500,000 gunship the math swings back the other way and the hit and run tactics are no longer economically feasible.

          • (Score: 3) by krishnoid on Friday April 11 2014, @11:40PM

            by krishnoid (1156) on Friday April 11 2014, @11:40PM (#30350)

            Personally, I don't want to stand downrange to find out. My imagination is more than sufficient, thank you.

            Mine is not. Mr. Hyneman and Mr. Savage, you're up.

        • (Score: 1) by Hawkwind on Friday April 11 2014, @06:41PM

          by Hawkwind (3531) on Friday April 11 2014, @06:41PM (#30201)

          The Pop Sci article suggests there will be targeting.

          "The projectile leaves the barrel at hypersonic velocity—Mach 7-plus—exits the Earth’s atmosphere, re-enters under satellite guidance, and lands on the building less than six minutes later; its incredible velocity vaporizes the target with kinetic energy alone."

          But knowing government time it's also not clear if everything has truly been figured out.

          "...estimates the U.S. version won’t be “deliverable†until 2015 at the earliest."

          • (Score: 2) by snick on Friday April 11 2014, @08:46PM

            by snick (1408) on Friday April 11 2014, @08:46PM (#30263)

            That sounds like a wicked weapon to use against stationary (or very slowly moving) targets. But it doesn't sound like an effective counter measure to a swarm of boats that are attacking a ship as the GP suggested.

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 11 2014, @09:05PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 11 2014, @09:05PM (#30275)

            velocityâ€â€Mach 7-plusâ€â€exits the Earth’s [...]won’t be “deliverableâ€

            As Slashcode has yet to be fixed such that it handles Unicode properly, the proper way to cut and paste remains dragging and dropping into an ASCII-only text editor.
            This will expose all characters that Slashcode will not display correctly.
            (It is even likely that it will convert them for you.)
            Leafpad, as an example, converts an em dash into a double-hyphen and converts a "smart" quote[1] into a regular quotation mark.
            As I recall, Notepad does the same.

            Look for anything that hasn't been auto-converted and tweak that by hand.
            Only then should you drag and drop your blockquoted text from the text editor into the posting page.

            As an alternate strategy, you could PREVIEW YOUR POSTS (especially when you do copy pasta).

            Either way, you should look for weird stuff in your text before you hit Submit.
            Thank you for your attention to detail in the future.

            [1] I call those dumb quotes.

            -- gewg_

    • (Score: 1) by moondoctor on Friday April 11 2014, @12:34PM

      by moondoctor (2963) on Friday April 11 2014, @12:34PM (#29998)

      just guessing, but in this case i'd say it's the 22 pound projectile at mach 7. i'll freely admit i don't know much about physics, but my gut says that getting something to move at those kind of speeds will take some pretty heavy engineering. or am i wrong? can you just wrap the butt of a 50mm gun in copper wire, plug in a nuclear reactor from a sub and fire away?

      • (Score: 2) by Sir Garlon on Friday April 11 2014, @12:48PM

        by Sir Garlon (1264) on Friday April 11 2014, @12:48PM (#30000)

        Given the range and impact energy of these projectiles, it's pretty safe to say that if it were easy, it would have been done decades ago.

        --
        [Sir Garlon] is the marvellest knight that is now living, for he destroyeth many good knights, for he goeth invisible.
      • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Friday April 11 2014, @01:12PM

        by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Friday April 11 2014, @01:12PM (#30018) Journal
        Looked a bit myself. Wikipedia says [wikipedia.org]:

        Currently the only ships that can produce enough electrical power to get desired performance are the Zumwalt-class destroyers; they can generate 78 megawatts of power, far more than would be necessary.

        Seems OK until now. Except that... there's only one Zumwalt-class destroyer [wikipedia.org] built so far, with another two in the pipeline... and that's about it (and, yes, I realize they aren't built for an art show but, God, are they ugly [wikimedia.org] or what?)

        --
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
        • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 11 2014, @02:52PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 11 2014, @02:52PM (#30079)

          Yikes. That thing looks like Steve Jobs's yacht.

        • (Score: 2) by Sir Garlon on Friday April 11 2014, @03:11PM

          by Sir Garlon (1264) on Friday April 11 2014, @03:11PM (#30091)

          They're ugly because of the radar-scattering stealth [wikipedia.org] design. The first-generation stealth fighter [wikipedia.org] didn't win any beauty contests, either. But yeah ... that blocky profile is even uglier in Navy grey than in black.

          --
          [Sir Garlon] is the marvellest knight that is now living, for he destroyeth many good knights, for he goeth invisible.
        • (Score: 2) by TK on Friday April 11 2014, @03:16PM

          by TK (2760) on Friday April 11 2014, @03:16PM (#30093)

          I did a bit of the math here [soylentnews.org]. Long story short, this gun required 6 MW to fire at the quoted rate, assuming no losses. IANAEE, but as I understand it, magnetic acceleration is very efficient.

          --
          The fleas have smaller fleas, upon their backs to bite them, and those fleas have lesser fleas, and so ad infinitum
        • (Score: 2) by Runaway1956 on Friday April 11 2014, @03:57PM

          by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Friday April 11 2014, @03:57PM (#30114) Homepage Journal

          Not only ugly, but everything that I've read suggests that they are going to be unseaworthy. They aren't exactly built to run the North Sea in winter. Life might be better aboard a round bottomed Gator Navy hull. France hasn't been a major sea power for a long, long time. God only knows why the Navy is using an old discarded French idea to build a hull.

          As you say, there is one afloat, and two on the way. Let's hope that there aren't any more! We already have a dozen different destroyer hull designs that are quite adequate to any proposed missions for the Zumwalt class. A seventy year old Adam's class design would be great.

          --
          "I didn't lose to him!" - The Donald referring to Trippin' Joe
          • (Score: 1) by iwoloschin on Friday April 11 2014, @05:33PM

            by iwoloschin (3863) on Friday April 11 2014, @05:33PM (#30158)

            They're that shape for the reduce radar cross section. Supposedly, they've done testing to "validate" the seaworthiness of the design, so they kept the "ugly" design. If it works, awesome, if not, well, it's not the most expensive boondoggle our government has thrown money at. It's a great catch 22. If it works, everyone goes, "Well sure, it makes sense!" but if it fails and sinks, everyone goes, "It's your fault for using a crappy design and we told you so."

            My concern would be more about damage control. I think this thing is supposed to be "optimally crewed" which means less busy bodies, but also fewer damage control teams when you're in a fight.

          • (Score: 2) by frojack on Friday April 11 2014, @06:41PM

            by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Friday April 11 2014, @06:41PM (#30202) Journal

            This isn't the boat that will initially have the Rail Gun.

            The first deployment will be on the Joint High Speed Vessel Millinocket [janes.com], which is a transport ship. That boat has a catamaran hull.

            As for your assessment of seaworthiness, I suggest you leave that to people with actual degrees in naval architecture.

            --
            No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
        • (Score: 2) by frojack on Friday April 11 2014, @07:25PM

          by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Friday April 11 2014, @07:25PM (#30221) Journal

          They expect eventual deployment on the DDG 51 class destroyer [wikipedia.org], of which there are 62 in active service, an 13 more planned that Obama is trying furiously to cut.

          See the later part of this Video [youtube.com] and the above linked page where indications that this railgun is planned for that ship.

          --
          No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 11 2014, @05:36PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 11 2014, @05:36PM (#30163)

        I've only taken a year of physics so I'm not expert but I wonder how it reduces recoil.

        "The high-power electric pulse generates a magnetic field to fire the projectile with very little recoil"

        Unless the thing is producing forward motion in flight against the air/wind being pushed backwards the conservation of momentum would say that the ship would have to be pushed in the opposite direction with equal momentum that the object is being pushed forward. Is the advantage that the ammunition is less massive and so the recoil isn't as strong? Or is there electromagnetic propulsion against the air in flight or something (not sure if that makes sense)? Also, as others have noted, Wikipedia seems to indicate that the power supplies necessary are big and expensive.
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Railgun [wikipedia.org]

        • (Score: 2) by frojack on Friday April 11 2014, @07:10PM

          by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Friday April 11 2014, @07:10PM (#30211) Journal

          Big and expensive is what the navy does well. So no worries there.

          The projectile weighs 22 pounds. Yes, it will induce recoil, but that is a tiny projectile, compared to what the Navy is used to firing from large bore guns.

          It is progressively accelerated down the barrel (rails), and as such the recoil is time-dispersed compared to a chemically fired gun where force is much more instantaneously applied.

          (Traditional guns propellants are progressive burning solids (to be distinguished from explosives), and add SOME momentum (by ever expanding gas) as the projectile moves down the barrel, but the highest pressure is achieved within a couple liner feet of the breech within 12 milliseconds. [dtic.mil] Force on the projectile decreases as the projectile moved down the barrel. )

          Rails are timed to add relatively constant, or even increasing force as the projectile moved down the rail. This spreads the recoil out over a small amount of time. The weapon structure needs no recoil management for the sizes being deployed in this General Atomics test.

          When the larger BAE rail gun (the next phase of the program) comes on line, it has built in Recoil handlers.

          --
          No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
        • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Foobar Bazbot on Friday April 11 2014, @09:58PM

          by Foobar Bazbot (37) on Friday April 11 2014, @09:58PM (#30310) Journal

          The characterization of railguns as "low recoil" arises from a comparison based on equal projectile kinetic energy. The validity of this comparison is just a bit dubious; there's no end of argument over whether momentum, energy, or something else is the correct metric for characterizing guns. IMO, the answer for simple kinetic impactors (no explosives, no expand-on-impact hollowpoint/softpoint designs, etc.) against simple homogeneous targets is generally momentum for projectile velocities << the speed of sound in the target, energy for projectile velocities >> the speed of sound in the target, and something in the middle for velocities on the order of the speed of sound in the target. Considering the speed of sound in water (about 1500m/s, or M~=4 in air) as representing the target, conventional guns range from much slower to slightly faster, and railguns are much faster. Naval guns are on the upper end for conventional guns, so at least energy isn't very wrong...

          Anyway, taking as given that equal kinetic energy is the correct baseline, kinetic energy scales as m*v^2, so twice the velocity = 1/4 the mass. Momentum scales as m*v, so twice the velocity means 1/4*2 = 1/2 the momentum, thus 1/2 the recoil. So a (very) high velocity gun has a (very very) very light projectile, and thus has "(very) little recoil", QED.

          Practically, there's no real competition to conventional guns at the velocities they're suited to; as you say. the powerplant and high-current capacitor bank (or flywheel+homopolar generator, or other ultra-low-impedance energy storage) required are just silly compared to storing that energy in chemical form as gunpowder. But any pressure gun is theoretically limited to a projectile Mach number of 1 w/r/t the propellant (practically, the velocity must be substantially lower) -- due to the high temperature of combustion gases, this is much greater than the speed of sound in air, but still presents a practical limit of around 2km/s for conventional guns (with crazy stuff like HARP going as far as 3.6km/s). Light-gas guns can improve on this by using propellant gases chosen for high speed of sound, but magnetic guns avoid the limitation altogether. We'd love a 7km/s conventional gun, but since that's not an option, we deal with the downsides of magnetic guns.

          Now to quibble over the implicit assumption that projectile mass and velocity are the only recoil-related parameters: At the same momentum, magnetic guns do have a slight recoil advantage over non-muzzle-braked pressure guns (both light-gas guns and conventional guns*) in that they only expel the projectile**, while conventional guns also expel a comparable mass of propellant gas (and frequently unburnt particles) at comparable velocity. Muzzle brakes (which aren't generally used on naval guns) redirect some fraction of this gas backward; as momentum is a vector quantity, this subtracts from the recoil, and if the fraction is great enough, actually reverses the magnetic guns' advantage. But this difference is hardly enough to make magnetic guns attractive at comparable velocities -- as I said, we presently only put up with them because they're one of the only options for hyper-velocity.

          *with some exceptions, such as pistols firing intrinsically-silenced ammo [world.guns.ru]
          **and the armature, if that's not part of the projectile. Even if it is, some part of the armature is typically converted to plasma, and leaves at ludicrous velocity, but it's ordinarily a small mass.

          • (Score: 2) by Foobar Bazbot on Friday April 11 2014, @10:18PM

            by Foobar Bazbot (37) on Friday April 11 2014, @10:18PM (#30318) Journal

            of course. we'd love a "7km/s" gun of whatever sort, too, but I got the 5.5 km/s (planned for the final version) with Mach 7 (for the current prototype). Oops.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 03 2014, @03:06PM

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 11 2014, @12:18PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 11 2014, @12:18PM (#29990)

    It's good that they're recognizing the advantage of having cheaper weapons, but it's still strange to hear the US military tout how much more cost effecitve their forces are. This is the same military that spends several times what other countries do for equipment which, though better than what other countries buy, isn't obviously better in price-performance terms (obvious example is the F35 instead of Silent Eagle or Super Hornet, but also see the San Antinio class [wikipedia.org] versus the Type 71 [wikipedia.org]: the type 71 costs 1/3 of what the San Antonio does).

    • (Score: 2) by wonkey_monkey on Friday April 11 2014, @12:29PM

      by wonkey_monkey (279) on Friday April 11 2014, @12:29PM (#29996) Homepage

      Perhaps it's less about being able to say "we can deal the same amount of death at half the price" and more like "we can now deal twice the death, all else remaining equal (including money)".

      --
      systemd is Roko's Basilisk
      • (Score: 2) by Rivenaleem on Friday April 11 2014, @01:06PM

        by Rivenaleem (3400) on Friday April 11 2014, @01:06PM (#30013)
        Perhaps it's all about, "You know that scene in the second transformers movie? Yeah, we can do that now"

        on a *shuffer* sidenote, Micheal Bay was right...
        • (Score: 2) by wonkey_monkey on Monday April 14 2014, @08:40AM

          by wonkey_monkey (279) on Monday April 14 2014, @08:40AM (#31212) Homepage

          You know that scene in the second transformers movie?

          No, no I don't.

          Micheal Bay was right...

          You take that back!

          --
          systemd is Roko's Basilisk
    • (Score: 2, Informative) by WillAdams on Friday April 11 2014, @01:02PM

      by WillAdams (1424) on Friday April 11 2014, @01:02PM (#30009)

      The interesting thing here is that it (once again) re-writes the books in terms of how much KE one can expend for a given (value of) target.

      During the Six-Day War (``The Setback'' for our Arab readers), the Israeli Army was able to use huge artillery barrages to get a single tank because they were being guaranteed an inexhaustible supply of artillery shells from U.S. warehouses --- they were firing shells in the afternoon which were still cool to the touch from being in a U.S. warehouse earlier that morning.

      That this is also incredibly accurate just makes the cost-justification for using it even easier.

    • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Ethanol-fueled on Friday April 11 2014, @02:59PM

      by Ethanol-fueled (2792) on Friday April 11 2014, @02:59PM (#30084) Homepage

      The U.S. military is not as cost-effective as it could be, due to many functions that used to be performed internally being privatized. It's no accident, perhaps some general or congressman or whomever in a high position of power has a buddy they want to enrich.

      " B-but muh big government is expensive and m-muh privatization is cheap! "

      That may be true in some cases of government bureaucracy, but definitely not [pbs.org] in the military's case. Which is a shame, because a lot of high-tech jobs like PMEL in some cases have already been privatized. So instead of having a lowly E-1 or E-2 with aptitude receive bitchin' tech training while working for peanuts, now you have to pay a civilian over 20 bucks an hour to do the same thing, and any money left over goes right into the owner's pockets.

      This is why, in spite of all the biggest and latest toys making the news here, the future of military contracting is not big and fancy toys, but austerity and maintenance of existing toys -- they just don't know it yet, ha.

      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by khallow on Friday April 11 2014, @03:36PM

        by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Friday April 11 2014, @03:36PM (#30100) Journal

        due to many functions that used to be performed internally being privatized

        It's not because they're privatized. It's because the people spending the money don't care how many zeroes are on the check. The US is very good these days at digging the hole deeper no matter what approach is used.

        This is why, in spite of all the biggest and latest toys making the news here, the future of military contracting is not big and fancy toys, but austerity and maintenance of existing toys -- they just don't know it yet, ha.

        I disagree. There's still huge money in R&D. It's high profit, lots of easy ways to generate a ton of costs to plump up the contract, and low accountability - you don't actually need a working product at the end. They'll continue that until the US is so messed up, it can't keep the lights on.

        So instead of having a lowly E-1 or E-2 with aptitude receive bitchin' tech training while working for peanuts, now you have to pay a civilian over 20 bucks an hour to do the same thing, and any money left over goes right into the owner's pockets.

        I gather the problem isn't even that. As I understand it, Uncle Sam is actually paying a contractor something like 50-75 bucks an hour to pay a civilian 20 bucks an hour to do the work. It's definitely not a shining example of privatization.

    • (Score: 2) by Sir Garlon on Friday April 11 2014, @03:25PM

      by Sir Garlon (1264) on Friday April 11 2014, @03:25PM (#30096)

      The strategy of Al-Quaeda and the Taliban is to prolong the fighting beyond America's willingness to pay for it. This is pretty much the strategy of every insurgent group including the rebel Continental Army in the US war of independence. It's a proven model, called asymmetric warfare [wikipedia.org].

      Fighting cheaper makes it harder for the insurgents to win.

      It's also a counter to the Iranian strategy of using low-cost speedboats to attack US ships, which they used in combat against the US navy in 1988 [wikipedia.org].

      This is not to say I am a warmonger; I am explaining the competing strategies without condoning the indiscriminate use of force.

      --
      [Sir Garlon] is the marvellest knight that is now living, for he destroyeth many good knights, for he goeth invisible.
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 11 2014, @10:11PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 11 2014, @10:11PM (#30314)

        prolong the fighting beyond America's willingness to pay

        ...repeating the Reagan strategy for defeating the "Evil Empire"[1]: a 600-ship navy, "Peacekeeper" missiles, Star Wars, resurrecting already-obsolete bomber designs, etc.
        The problem was that he had to BORROW to do that.
        It put US into debt and we've never recovered (just borrowed MORE).

        [1] Isn't it an interesting irony how a sizable portion of the planet now views USA as an empire and evil, with its not-necessary-for-defense military aggression on the other side of the globe?

        -- gewg_

    • (Score: 3, Informative) by bucc5062 on Friday April 11 2014, @03:38PM

      by bucc5062 (699) on Friday April 11 2014, @03:38PM (#30101)

      The San Antonio class has significant survivability features and computer technology. In addition to Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) protection from air threats, the ships were designed to minimize its radar signature. Radar cross-section (RCS) reduction techniques make the ships more difficult to locate and target.[6] Enhanced survivability features include improved nuclear blast and fragmentation protection and a shock-hardened structure.[7] The fiber-optic shipboard-wide area network (SWAN) connects onboard-integrated systems. The network will allow "plug in and fight" configuration, updating and replacing hardware more easily when newer technology becomes available. Moreover, the class has extensive communications, command, control, and intelligence systems to support current and projected expeditionary warfare missions of the 21st century.[6]

      It could be part of the price tag and maybe not quite the same comparison. I tend to agree that we are putting a lot of $$$ in the water for a war against enemies that frankly, if we starting shooting today, even conventional, the world would be in a real mess. I do nto want to see us in a shooting war with either China or Russia, but my gut feeling is that taking nukes off the table and using "traditional" ethics of War we'd win(lose) because of our technology advantage. This is not a huzzah for the US for War is just plain stupid unless there is nothing else. Economies are so tied together now that after the first major skirmish the world economy would collapse since a war with China and/or Russia directly (not proxy) would be to utter destruction. Besides, someone will put a nuke back on the table.

      I think this is why I am just so tired of all the damn postering by these countries. Us, China, Russia spend all this money on "defense" like either of us will directly attack. It could be better spent on advancing humankind, but nope, even after all these millennium we still have to see who's dick is larger, who's balls are bigger, and who's da man. Idiots.

      --
      The more things change, the more they look the same
  • (Score: 2, Interesting) by jheath314 on Friday April 11 2014, @12:27PM

    by jheath314 (1174) on Friday April 11 2014, @12:27PM (#29994)

    He's basically saying it's no longer so cost prohibitive for the Americans to shoot back.

    At least that's a departure from the usual trend of building more and more expensive and complicated weapons, as opposed to large quantities of inexpensive and robust weapons. In enforcing the no-fly zone over Libya, for example, the allies hesitated to use their shiny new F-22 Raptors for fear of the enormous costs of repair or replacement should one accidentally get hit. Instead, the aircraft that proved itself yet again to be the most useful in that engagement was the good old A10 from the 1970s... cheap, rugged, and actually useful for the types of fighting we actually do.

    Back to the topic of the ship-mounted rail gun, it sounds like this would serve well against other large ships, in the kinds of naval battles we haven't seen since World War II. How it would help against, say, a squad of small speedboats carrying explosives (i.e. the attack on the USS Cole) remains to be seen.

    • (Score: 5, Interesting) by bucc5062 on Friday April 11 2014, @01:30PM

      by bucc5062 (699) on Friday April 11 2014, @01:30PM (#30027)

      " How it would help against, say, a squad of small speedboats carrying explosives (i.e. the attack on the USS Cole) remains to be seen."

      The Cole was an aberration attack that could not, would not happen again. That ship was attacked in a (semi)friendly port, tied to a dock, and receiving supplies. The boat was able to get close by taking advantage of all those points (and our reluctance to shoot first at the time).

      A few years ago I was a "Ride-The-Ducks" Captain* [ridetheducks.com], giving rides/tours up and down the Delaware River near Philadelphia. One day we got a notice that a US Navy frigate was tied up at the public docks and be sure to give it a wide berth. Excited I was for being a closet Navy man (my dad was WWII Navy destroyerman) I always like to see navel ships. I rolled my Duc into the river, turned starboard by the Ben Franklin and we all got to see this rather large gray ship looking very imposing, just a few hundred yards away. Before I got within 100 yards of the ship my vessel was being paralleled by a Navy Zodiac that had at least two marines with carbines slightly pointed at us. I had my passengers wave and "quack" at the sailors, they neither smiled nor acknowledged us other then a constant watch. On board you could tell a smaller machine gun was manned and tracking. They escorted us down the river, dropped off at a certain distance, then picked us up on the return. It was disconcerting to know that I had guns pointed even close to my direction, but I understood why. We were a more subdued crowd coming back. No private motorboat was allowed close to this ship (Ducks were allowed a little closer due to our lack of maneuvering, traffic and tour value).

      Any one who was stupid enough to attempt a Cole attack would find out that even in a friendly port, a docked Navy vessel has teeth and plenty of them to use....and they will.

      --
      The more things change, the more they look the same
      • (Score: 1) by Ethanol-fueled on Friday April 11 2014, @04:40PM

        by Ethanol-fueled (2792) on Friday April 11 2014, @04:40PM (#30136) Homepage

        The U.S.S. Cole tragedy was allowed to happen. The same people who carried out the attack on the Cole attempted a similar attack [wikipedia.org] only months earlier and in the same area, on the U.S.S. The Sullivans (note: it didn't work the first time because the overloaded their boat with explosives, causing it to sink, ha).

        Why was the attack on the Cole allowed to happen?!

        • (Score: 2) by bucc5062 on Friday April 11 2014, @04:50PM

          by bucc5062 (699) on Friday April 11 2014, @04:50PM (#30139)

          At least give a link to back up this statement. You are saying the US Navy purposely put a ship of the line in harms way on purpose without telling the captain or crew? People died in the explosion and nothing was served by allowing a Navy ship to be attacked this way. You better come up with more then wild ranting. That link to wiki has nothing to back up such a statement.

          --
          The more things change, the more they look the same
          • (Score: 1) by Ethanol-fueled on Friday April 11 2014, @05:08PM

            by Ethanol-fueled (2792) on Friday April 11 2014, @05:08PM (#30146) Homepage

            If you are as ignorant as you believe I am in the matter, then you are premature to dismiss my suggestion as "ignorant ranting."

            Why were people who were caught trying to blow up one of our ships able to successfully carry out the same plot, in the same area, only months after their first and failed attempt?

            If you're gonna ad-hominem without providing contradicting sources, and I can just turn around and say that it is you who is ranting because you believe America's government to be a lawful shining beacon of freedom and liberty without ulterior motive.

            I am raising interesting questions, and I don't have all day to write a dissertation. Maybe somebody will and earn mod points answering those tough questions. By the way, I did attempt to provide an alternate link [thefreelibrary.com] but the full version is no longer readily available. Start digging, champ!

            • (Score: 3, Interesting) by bucc5062 on Friday April 11 2014, @06:23PM

              by bucc5062 (699) on Friday April 11 2014, @06:23PM (#30195)

              There was no implication of ignorance and to use such is more inflammatory then helpful. These days I read too many times of people who post FUD type statements that may or may not be true, but little or no information is provided for a person to even begin to research. Since we're into fancy words your hyperbolic view of what I believe, without ever know who I am, diminishes your efforts to clarify your point.

              You made a statement, a very accusatory statement "The U.S.S. Cole tragedy was allowed to happen". Who allowed it? it would have to be someone or someone(s) within the Navy to give orders keeping naval warships vulnerable. If that were the case then certainly there is more information out then speculative statements. I read that freelibrary link and the closest I could find to any implication was from the Yemen President and even he was just "wondering" with the results being "inconclusive".

              Saleh also wondered aloud if the real power behind the bombing was Saudi-born terrorist Osama bin Laden ... or Israeli intelligence agents. (Israel, that theory goes, might want to ruin U.S.-Arab relations; American officials scoff at that idea.) Although Yemeni and American investigators have collected an impressive array of evidence -- with many intriguing connections to Afghanistan, where bin Laden lives in hiding -- much of it remains inconclusive

              I don't need to back up my belief that this was nothing but a terrorist act that had deadly success. I don't need to back up a belief that the Navy was not complicit in the Cole's attack for there is nothing to signify proof that they were. You ask me to prove a negative while I am asking you to prove your positive statement that the Navy allowed the Cole to be attacked.

              As to my view of America, I lost the rose colored glasses a long time ago. I accept that our government lies and if/when someone or some organization puts proof out there of their lies I will take it in and value it against what I know and feel is right. What I won't do is live each day accusing this country of working in conjunction with Terrorists to kill american soldiers without some clear evidence to the contrary.

              --
              The more things change, the more they look the same
    • (Score: 2, Insightful) by quacking duck on Friday April 11 2014, @01:53PM

      by quacking duck (1395) on Friday April 11 2014, @01:53PM (#30046)

      These rail guns are supposedly replacing or supplementing missile weapons. Would missiles even be used against a squad of small speedboats?

      • (Score: 2) by Grishnakh on Friday April 11 2014, @02:30PM

        by Grishnakh (2831) on Friday April 11 2014, @02:30PM (#30067)

        I doubt it; they're too small and close. I imagine they'd just use regular machine guns against speedboats. Don't they still have deck-mounted 50-cal M2 guns?

        • (Score: 2) by JeanCroix on Friday April 11 2014, @02:33PM

          by JeanCroix (573) on Friday April 11 2014, @02:33PM (#30068)
          Sure, if you want to wait for them to get in range of the 50cals. Mach 7 gives you a wee bit more standoff range...
      • (Score: 2) by Nerdfest on Friday April 11 2014, @03:38PM

        by Nerdfest (80) on Friday April 11 2014, @03:38PM (#30102)

        I thought the normal defense against small boats (and missiles) was radar guided Gatling guns.

  • (Score: 2) by egcagrac0 on Friday April 11 2014, @12:29PM

    by egcagrac0 (2705) on Friday April 11 2014, @12:29PM (#29997)

    The Hypervelocity Projectile [navy.mil] that the railgun launches is far more interesting than the article suggests.

    At first, I was wondering how they could make a 23 pound hunk of metal cost $25,000. Now, I'm wondering what the "guidance electronics" are that the HVP page is talking about, and what they can do.

    Big electric guns are cool, but the Mach-7 and shooting-around-corners* parts are pretty spiffy.

    *I have no idea if it shoots around corners - they haven't told us much about what the bullet can do.

    • (Score: 2) by Rivenaleem on Friday April 11 2014, @01:04PM

      by Rivenaleem (3400) on Friday April 11 2014, @01:04PM (#30010)

      That any guidance electronics survive the coils is the spiffy part I think.

      • (Score: 2) by wantkitteh on Friday April 11 2014, @01:11PM

        by wantkitteh (3362) on Friday April 11 2014, @01:11PM (#30017) Homepage Journal

        Far more interesting to me is that they aren't mentioning barrel lifetime any more. A few years ago they couldn't get more than a few rounds through it before the stress destroyed it. Perhaps the counter-tactic for these ships will be to fly lots of cheapass drones towards them, forcing them to engage them all, wearing out the railgun and putting it out of action?

        • (Score: 2) by Rivenaleem on Friday April 11 2014, @01:27PM

          by Rivenaleem (3400) on Friday April 11 2014, @01:27PM (#30024)

          Except I don't think the Railgun is for shooting drones. I expect they'll still have conventional guns for that. This weapons is more for shooting Constructacons from the tops of pyramids.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 11 2014, @05:48PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 11 2014, @05:48PM (#30174)

        Those guidance electronics are probably wrapped inside a reasonably effective Faraday cage - the hunk of metal that is most of the projectile. A layer (or 6) of mu-metal [wikipedia.org] might help, too.

        • (Score: 2) by frojack on Friday April 11 2014, @07:15PM

          by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Friday April 11 2014, @07:15PM (#30215) Journal

          There is no such thing as a "reasonably effective Faraday cage" at the voltages being used in rail guns.

          --
          No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 14 2014, @01:00PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 14 2014, @01:00PM (#31263)
            Physics doesn't stop working just because the numbers get big.
            • (Score: 2) by frojack on Monday April 14 2014, @11:51PM

              by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Monday April 14 2014, @11:51PM (#31574) Journal

              Yes it does.

              Don't believe me? Put on your rubber boots, and hold up a metal rod while standing on a hill in a thunder storm.
              You will quickly find that there is no such thing as insulation where lightning is concerned.

              --
              No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by TK on Friday April 11 2014, @03:10PM

      by TK (2760) on Friday April 11 2014, @03:10PM (#30089)

      Thanks for the link.

      A few numbers for the interested.

      To accelerate a 23lb (10.5kg) mass to Mach 7 (2400 m/s, 5300 mph) requires ~3*10^7 J of energy. To do this twelve times every minute requires 6*10^6 W of power. The USNS Millinocket is powered by four 8000 kW diesel generators. If there is no additional power supply, this gun will require almost 20% of the total available power, not including electrical losses.

      The peak temperature on the nose of the projectile at Mach 7 is ~3000 C. Note the different colored material on the concept in the pdf, that's probably an ablative coating to dissipate heat.

      Given that the nose is so hot, I don't know what kind of sensing equipment these could reasonably use, certainly not something based on heat signature of the enemy. On the other hand, mach 7 is just the muzzle velocity, and the speed would drop off rapidly in flight. I would attempt a rough calculation of the drag over the 100 mile range, but wave drag is dominant at these speeds, and I don't have those equations available at the moment. I could reasonably see this traveling at supersonic speeds even after 100 miles, but the nose temperature is a function of the square of mach number, and would present a much smaller problem at say, mach 2 (1.8 times ambient temperature, rather than 10.8).

      It definitely has control surfaces to correct for targets moving in unexpected ways. In this case, you don't really need to correct too much, because boats are slow, and your projectile is fast. I wouldn't exactly call it shooting around corners, but you can get a bit of curve if you need to.

      A quick look at wikipedia for the 5" guns mentioned in the pdf, gives the Mark 42 [wikipedia.org] and the Mark 45 [wikipedia.org], at 6.858m and 7.874m barrel length, respectively. Given a muzzle velocity of 2400 m/s, the average acceleration would be about 37,000 g in the longer gun, and 43,000 g in the shorter one.

      If anyone would care to take a stab at the current requirements for the gun, the Wikipedia article on railguns [wikipedia.org] has a set of equations, but the resistance in the coil is a function of the projectile's position, and I don't feel like doing that much calculus on a Friday.

      --
      The fleas have smaller fleas, upon their backs to bite them, and those fleas have lesser fleas, and so ad infinitum
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 11 2014, @04:00PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 11 2014, @04:00PM (#30115)

      Well if you include shooting over the horizion as shooting around a corner... then yes it can.

  • (Score: 1) by Dunbal on Friday April 11 2014, @01:06PM

    by Dunbal (3515) on Friday April 11 2014, @01:06PM (#30012)

    "The Navy says the cost differential $25,000 for a railgun projectile versus $500,000 to $1.5 million for a missile will make potential enemies think twice about the economic viability of engaging U.S. forces."

    Yes, let's just ignore the fact that the railgun itself cost over $3 BILLION per ship. Which means I could fire 2,000 missiles at your little destroyer and still be "ahead" on the balance sheet (because after all, the 3 billion is for the gun, not the entire ship). How many destroyers are equipped to fend off 2,000 missiles? Sigh. Nu math.

    • (Score: 4, Informative) by dotdotdot on Friday April 11 2014, @01:28PM

      by dotdotdot (858) on Friday April 11 2014, @01:28PM (#30025)

      The railgun itself does not cost $3 billion per ship. I think you might be getting that figure from here [ibtimes.com] which is for a completely new stealth destroyer.

      The development cost which is usually the biggest cost of new weapon technology has been only about $240 million over the past 7 years.

      • (Score: 0) by Dunbal on Friday April 11 2014, @01:43PM

        by Dunbal (3515) on Friday April 11 2014, @01:43PM (#30041)

        Actually [foxnews.com] no [bangordailynews.com]. One site has it at $3 billion, another at $4 billion. Where did you get YOUR number from?

        • (Score: 3, Informative) by dotdotdot on Friday April 11 2014, @01:55PM

          by dotdotdot (858) on Friday April 11 2014, @01:55PM (#30048)

          From you first link ...

          "It may be the massive Zumwalt class DDG-1000 destroyer, which is now being designed as a multi-mission ship at a price tag of $3.3 billion per ship."

          ... which refers to a new destroyer, not a rail gun.

          "So far, the railgun has cost taxpayers $240 million in research and design costs, according to ONR. Ellis said the project has been 'adequately funded' for Phase II and should come in at a similar price tag."

          ... which matches the figure I quoted.

          Your second link is also about a completely new ship and not just the cost to put a rail gun on an existing ship.

      • (Score: 2) by mhajicek on Friday April 11 2014, @01:46PM

        by mhajicek (51) on Friday April 11 2014, @01:46PM (#30042)

        Another advantage will be cost effective live fire training. Better trained crews make fewer mistakes, and remain more level headed when shtf.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 11 2014, @02:34PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 11 2014, @02:34PM (#30070)

      But those $3 billion (assuming the figure is right) are sunken cost by the time the battle begins. That is, when making the decision whether to apply the installed railgun the cost of installing it will no longer be important. Indeed, the fact that it was so expensive to install might even encourage its use, to justify the cost of equipping the ship with it.

      • (Score: 2) by Bartman12345 on Friday April 11 2014, @03:26PM

        by Bartman12345 (1317) on Friday April 11 2014, @03:26PM (#30099)

        Indeed, the fact that it was so expensive to install might even encourage its use, to justify the cost of equipping the ship with it.

        And also to prevent it from sinking to the bottom of the ocean.

      • (Score: 1) by theluggage on Friday April 11 2014, @04:07PM

        by theluggage (1797) on Friday April 11 2014, @04:07PM (#30122)

        But those $3 billion (assuming the figure is right) are sunken cost by the time the battle begins.

        "Sunk costs" may not be the best term to use in this particular context :-)

    • (Score: 2) by tibman on Friday April 11 2014, @02:51PM

      by tibman (134) Subscriber Badge on Friday April 11 2014, @02:51PM (#30078)

      lol, agreed. I'm sure the missile's launcher systems aren't super cheap but nowhere near 3bil. I'd hope that the railgun's R&D cost is in that $3bil as well!

      --
      SN won't survive on lurkers alone. Write comments.
    • (Score: 1) by rheaghen on Friday April 11 2014, @08:23PM

      by rheaghen (2470) on Friday April 11 2014, @08:23PM (#30258) Homepage

      according to http://hypertextbook.com/facts/1999/SeanManning.sh tml [hypertextbook.com]

      modern missiles travel at about 1.3 miles per second, and if the rail-gun never missed a target, and could stop 1 or 2 missiles per 5 seconds, It could take down a theoretical maximum of 50 missiles, if they were simultaneously launched at the same distance from the weapon.

      I'd say 65 missiles per rail-gun is all that is needed. Regardless, you need WAY less than 2000 missiles.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 11 2014, @02:01PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 11 2014, @02:01PM (#30050)

    Color me impressed.

    • (Score: 2, Informative) by EQ on Friday April 11 2014, @03:17PM

      by EQ (1716) on Friday April 11 2014, @03:17PM (#30094)

      Hello mr sarcasm, did you RTFA? Guided "bullets". 460mm "bullets". 10 Kg "bullets". 2400 m/s (8575 kph). 28 800 000 joules. 28.8 megajoules on target every 5 seconds.

  • (Score: 2) by bugamn on Friday April 11 2014, @02:34PM

    by bugamn (1017) on Friday April 11 2014, @02:34PM (#30069)

    I might not have read TFA properly, but I didn't understand some things: why does a rail gun needs an explosion? It is quite visible in the video. I showed it to my father, who has more understanding of guns than me, and he also found it strange that the projectile used sabot and that it seemed to curve relatively early for a gun that has a 100 mile range.

    • (Score: 5, Informative) by tynin on Friday April 11 2014, @03:11PM

      by tynin (2013) on Friday April 11 2014, @03:11PM (#30090) Journal

      I'll try to answer.

      • why does a rail gun needs an explosion? It is quite visible in the video.
        It isn't an explosion, but superheated gases. Friction from a 22 lb object going ~2380 m/s is going to cause the air to literally burn. Think of the space shuttle de-orbiting, and the streaking fireball across the sky it makes.
      • found it strange that the projectile used sabot
        I suspect they are using a sabot to protect the rather long barrel, to get more shots out of them before they need to be replaced. I haven't seen it mentioned on this rail gun, but I know earlier ones could only get a few shots fired before replacing the barrel.
      • it seemed to curve relatively early for a gun that has a 100 mile range.
        That 22 lb bullet has a guidance system in it, likely causing course corrections.
      • (Score: 1) by DeKO on Friday April 11 2014, @05:18PM

        by DeKO (3672) on Friday April 11 2014, @05:18PM (#30151)

        That's no friction, that's shock heating.

        • (Score: 2) by tynin on Friday April 11 2014, @06:22PM

          by tynin (2013) on Friday April 11 2014, @06:22PM (#30193) Journal

          I wasn't aware of that term, thanks for sharing :)

      • (Score: 2) by bugamn on Friday April 11 2014, @10:01PM

        by bugamn (1017) on Friday April 11 2014, @10:01PM (#30312)

        Thank you for your answers, kind internet stranger.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 11 2014, @03:09PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 11 2014, @03:09PM (#30088)

    yes there are no greater problems in the world than to develop new weapons... the wars are over, and if not then you only need nukes in the next one. Is someone really going to expect there will be a battle between two destroyers in the near future?

    • (Score: 2) by khallow on Friday April 11 2014, @03:42PM

      by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Friday April 11 2014, @03:42PM (#30103) Journal

      Yes, that is the primary role of militaries throughout the world - to anticipate the next conflict and ensure that there's a relatively good outcome, if it does happen. As to the absurd claim that the wars are "over", there have been hundreds of conventional wars since the last nuclear war.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 11 2014, @04:00PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 11 2014, @04:00PM (#30116)

        Other countries invest a fraction into military. The top 15 nations spend together what the US invests in the MIC. But there's a good reason, the only warmonger on this planet is the US at this point that continuous with illegal warfare, meddles in the affairs of others and violates sovernty. However, I do not recall any war where two naval ships have engaged in a battle so this seems to be a huge waste of money indeed.

        • (Score: 2) by skullz on Friday April 11 2014, @04:37PM

          by skullz (2532) on Friday April 11 2014, @04:37PM (#30134)

          "the only warmonger on this planet is the US at this point that continuous with illegal warfare, meddles in the affairs of others and violates sovernty"

          Tell that to Ukraine.

          "I do not recall any war where two naval ships have engaged in a battle so this seems to be a huge waste of money indeed."

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_naval_battle s [wikipedia.org]

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 11 2014, @04:48PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 11 2014, @04:48PM (#30137)

            The conflict in the Ukraine is spawned by western powers. Read up a bit or can you only recite your mainstream media? Your government invested 5 billion in the destabilization of the Ukraine prior to the conflict. That is a proven fact.

            Did you actually read that Wikipedia article? It lists 3 engagements of the USA, none of which I would call a battle. There have been minor skirmishes only.

            • (Score: 2) by skullz on Friday April 11 2014, @05:10PM

              by skullz (2532) on Friday April 11 2014, @05:10PM (#30148)

              Yes but if you...

              Wait! You surprised me there! I haven't seen anything besides knee-jerk obvious trolling for so long my troll-dar was out of practice.

              *hat-tip*

            • (Score: 2) by khallow on Friday April 11 2014, @05:19PM

              by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Friday April 11 2014, @05:19PM (#30152) Journal

              Only true, if you include Russia in that list of "western powers".

              Your government invested 5 billion in the destabilization of the Ukraine prior to the conflict.

              If that's true, then it's money well spent, given the piece of work that got kicked out.

              Did you actually read that Wikipedia article? It lists 3 engagements of the USA, none of which I would call a battle. There have been minor skirmishes only.

              The battle of Incheon. Turned the Korean War around and almost drove the Reds out of North Korea. Plus, how can you win a major naval battle in the future, if you don't bother to build the gear for it?

              • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 11 2014, @05:49PM

                by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 11 2014, @05:49PM (#30175)

                If you really think the money was well spend on Ukraine you're have not the slightest clue on the geopolitical and economical entanglements. Ukraine did most of its trade with Russia, because their products are not suitable for the European markets and don't meet the quality requirements and standards. As a close friend and ally, Russia didn't mind the very high gas debts and charged a minimum for gas. After the coup d'état they raised those prizes to the global standard, ask them to pay back their debt and closed the trade zone. The latter is necessary because if Ukraine will import lots of European goods, Russia cannot allow them to enter over a free trade zone since it would threaten local businesses.

                Now Ukraine has to be bailed out of their dilemma which is mainly the obligation of the EU since they're responsible for this mess. The rest of Europe like Germany face another dilemma, they are heavily dependent on Russian gas and cannot implement sanctions that are demanded by the US. Russia showed a strong position which the US didn't expect. If Europe fails to implement sanctions, Russia may even benefit from the meddling of the Americans because Ukraine will be very unstable as they have a Russian population that fiercely oppose western influence.

                The US pushed this conflict because they aim to undermine Russia's influence as Russia is publicly in strong opposition to US foreign policy. That's the same reason why the US implemented a military coup in Iran 1953 and ended democracy there to isolate the country as much as possible. This has been a major success as without these measures, Iran would be the dominant power in the middle east. We will see the US implementing further aggression against north Korea as it is a good excuse to place military in Asian oceans and limit Chinese influence.

                The world however is not so blind anymore and the US increasingly isolates itself with these interaction. Even public opinions shift dramatically in countries that were former close allies in Europe. As a consequence the free trade zone between the US and Europe will surely fail and in the long term, the US is the major payer. It is about time you Americans wake up!

        • (Score: 2) by khallow on Friday April 11 2014, @05:42PM

          by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Friday April 11 2014, @05:42PM (#30169) Journal

          Actually, that fraction is not as small as you think. Generally, when people consider US military spending, they toss in military health care and pensions, law enforcement, and espionage/space gear. When they consider other countries's military spending, they generally just consider military spending. China, Russia, adn the EU would by the standards applied to the US, spend a lot more than they're currently considered to be spending. Also some of those countries, again particularly Russia and China, spend more than they claim to spend on the military.

          Bottom line is that the US still spends more, but it's less one-sided than you are led to believe.

      • (Score: 1) by fnj on Friday April 11 2014, @04:06PM

        by fnj (1654) on Friday April 11 2014, @04:06PM (#30121)

        Yes. Our anonymous coward is a bit mentally challenged. The total rate of conflicts has been accelerating for a long time and shows no signs that it might start diminishing any time in the foreseeable future.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 11 2014, @04:51PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 11 2014, @04:51PM (#30140)

          You can be neither from Europe, nor from Asia. Such a statement can only originate from a true American since the only country who accelerates conflicts is the USA.

          • (Score: 1) by Lazarus on Friday April 11 2014, @06:42PM

            by Lazarus (2769) on Friday April 11 2014, @06:42PM (#30203)

            Allowing anonymous nitwits may have been a mistake. This site doesn't have to duplicate the bad parts of Slashdot.

            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 11 2014, @10:43PM

              by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 11 2014, @10:43PM (#30326)

              The same should apply to ad hominem without any actual rebuttal.

              -- gewg_

        • (Score: 2) by khallow on Friday April 11 2014, @05:37PM

          by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Friday April 11 2014, @05:37PM (#30164) Journal

          But contrary to your assertion, there is a strong diminishing in war frequency and severity from 1945 on, due I believe, to the development of the atomic bomb.

    • (Score: 1) by EQ on Friday April 11 2014, @05:39PM

      by EQ (1716) on Friday April 11 2014, @05:39PM (#30167)

      It's not just destroyer to destroyer. It's also for shore bombardment, taking out multiple smaller ships like an explosives filled speedboat that the Iranians use, and even anti aircraft

    • (Score: 1) by OneOfMany on Friday April 11 2014, @07:53PM

      by OneOfMany (2476) on Friday April 11 2014, @07:53PM (#30243)

      Speaking as a Brit:

      What is this for? Who will ever sit broadside to broadside with us in a naval battle these days? Al Qaeda? Al Shabaab? North Korea? The IRA?

      Everything changed when we got the hydrogen bomb. Once we had a weapon so terrible that nobody would risk attacking us for fear of it, we knew we would never fight another 'defensive' war again. Any war we engage in now is morally suspect because we cannot lose in the conventional sense; we will never be annexed/invaded/occupied - it's all about risking soldier's lives to get some political or financial gain out of it.

      This stuff is just pork pure and simple.

  • (Score: 1) by stp on Friday April 11 2014, @04:10PM

    by stp (3735) on Friday April 11 2014, @04:10PM (#30123)

    Great... now we just need a mech to mount it on.

    • (Score: 1) by Freeman on Friday April 11 2014, @04:52PM

      by Freeman (732) on Friday April 11 2014, @04:52PM (#30142) Journal

      Walking Mechs are a Science Fiction thing. You could easily take out a Mech with a tank and it would be cheaper. It would also be easier to mount a railgun to a tank. Tank > Mech.

      --
      "I said in my haste, All men are liars." Psalm 116:11
      • (Score: 2) by skullz on Friday April 11 2014, @05:12PM

        by skullz (2532) on Friday April 11 2014, @05:12PM (#30149)

        Yeah but the mech wins in the cool competition.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 11 2014, @07:16PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 11 2014, @07:16PM (#30216)

        How is a tank going to carry enough energy to launch the projectile?

        Even if it is a big enough vehicle to support what looks like a 14 foot long gun... that's a nontrivial looking energy storage bank in the background of the pictures. Batteries, capacitors, generators, and the like are not small, even when scaled back from the 6MJ requirement for this device.

  • (Score: 2, Informative) by freesword on Friday April 11 2014, @09:50PM

    by freesword (1018) on Friday April 11 2014, @09:50PM (#30304)

    This story which is copy/pasted across all the major news outlets is a poorly done hype piece. A better article on the Navy's railgun sea trial can be found here:

    http://breakingdefense.com/2014/04/navys-magnetic- super-gun-to-make-mach-7-shots-at-sea-in-2016-adm- greenert/ [breakingdefense.com]