Railgun Platforms. Thinking Caps On!

Discussion in 'Multi-Domain' started by Falcon, Jan 25, 2016.

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  1. Falcon

    Falcon Lieutenant Colonel Staff Member Social Media Team

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    Before we all get too excited we should remember some of the key disadvantages of railguns. They are high maintenance as the rails warp after some firing even though cooling technologies have been developed, and they require high amounts of energy to fire. Conventional guns can keep up much longer rates of sustained fire.

    Mike Fredenburg lists out the disadvantages here but we are talking about what platforms could a railgun be realistically used on.



    My 2 cents:

    Naval Platforms as is being done now.Maybe on submarines too.

    ORD_Rail_Gun_on_DDG-1000_Concept_lg.jpg

    Rail based railguns similar to the German Big Bertha of World War 1.

    Bertha_gun006.jpg

    A big railgun mounted on a TEL type vehicle that would normally carry Ballistic Missiles.

    Screen Shot 2013-03-29 at 6.50.00 PM.png

    A rail gun can be placed on a satellite type spacecraft. The gun would be placed in outer space over certain areas of interests, it would have a geostationary orbit. The UN will be forced to come up with laws for outer space territory.

    railgun-6.jpg

    As railgun technology advances they could be placed on airplanes and smaller land vehicles but I have a gut feeling that traditional gunpowder weapons, lasers, and missiles will dominate those platforms.
     
  2. Technofox

    Technofox That Norwegian girl Staff Member Ret. Military Developer

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    Railguns of today require a lot of power:

    That's understandable. A railgun system needs 25 megawatts of energy flowing through it, and according to Captain Michael Ziv, the Navy's program manager for rail guns and energy weapons. Most currently serving destroyers don't have more than nine megawatts of electricity that they can shift around.

    This is why they are being proposed as shore bombardment alternatives to expensive cruise missiles and smart bombs, and are to be components on future warships. But if we're going a bit hypothetical, like with satellites, which could use Radioisotope thermoelectric generators - a type of nuclear battery, usual found on deep-space probes, but sorely lacking in the power requirement criteria:

    RTGs have been used as power sources in satellites, space probes, and unmanned remote facilities such as a series of lighthouses built by the former Soviet Union inside the Arctic Circle. RTGs are usually the most desirable power source for unmaintained situations that need a few hundred watts (or less) of power for durations too long for fuel cells, batteries, or generators to provide economically, and in places where solar cells are not practical.

    [​IMG]

    How about a return to a 1950's concept - the Nuclear Tank? The working model of the time was the Chrysler TV-8:

    The Chrysler TV-8 was an extremely strange-looking medium tank concept which was developed in the 1950s. But if it’s appearance was odd, it was nothing compared to the proposed power source, a nuclear fission-powered vapor-cycle power plant located towards the rear of the main compartment!

    The TV-8 was presented in a proposal by Chrysler Corporation subsequent to the ASTRON meeting. Using an unconventional tank design, the proposed tank located the entire crew, engine and ammunition storage within a pod-shaped turret mounted above a lightweight chassis which could be separated for air shipment. The total weight of the tank was approximately 25 tons, with the turret weighing 15 tons and the chassis weighing 10 tons


    [​IMG]

    Modern miniature reactor designs have progressed quite a bit since the days of the 1950s, though the hazards remain as pronounced as ever. Still, it has the power requirement met and such a system, modernized for today's conflicts, could be a potent anti-everything weapon system.

    ...

    Or how about man portable:O---:?

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2016
  3. Falcon

    Falcon Lieutenant Colonel Staff Member Social Media Team

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    A nuclear tank!!!%^(

    Hmmm. For satellites solar energy could be built up and stored in a battery.Still we are bogged down in power and energy issues.:confused: This paper says that you need 4.8 acres of solar panels to get one Megawatt. I would guess that solar panels could absorb more energy in outer space meaning that you wouldn't need a terrible amount of outer space real estate to power one these babies:/--0. I dunno how long it would take to charge a battery like that but it could be an option in the future.|Astronaut|

    The railgun small arm could be an effective anti material or sniper rifle.:O---:

    Lookin like gunpowder will rule for another 100 years at least. Still the most cost effective and reliable system out there.
     
  4. Technofox

    Technofox That Norwegian girl Staff Member Ret. Military Developer

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    It too has a big power problem:

    “Its basically just a big four foot long railgun. It just plugs into a 220v outlet and charges up a capacitor bank. I’m not sure if the neon gas is actually ionized into plasma or not since I can’t see it in flight. But ionizing gas into plasma isn’t too uncommon, just shooting it is (since plasma dissipates instantly unless contained within a vacuum or magnetic field). So I don’t know how exactly its penetrating the metal (plasma burning through it or the copper sleeve just blasting through it) but ya, I’m sure railguns will be more and more portable and powerful over time, it’s just hard to store enough energy to fire multiple shots or have it compact.”

    :eek: For comparison, a Prius hybrid battery pack weighs 330lbs and has 345.6 Volts.

    Now the capacity and expenditure of each system's battery is different, one for long-continual use and one for instantaneous, high-capacity discharge, so that'll effect the size of the battery and also their capacity and if the railgun's battery is smaller, because it doesn't need to hold a charge for a long period, as does a car, then it'll weigh less, but also require more frequent charging. That make's it impractical. Large batteries = heavier, but also greater number of shots per charge. The converse is true too, and more likely as lugging around heavy equipment is dangerous for warfighters, but it dooms the portable railgun until higher capacity batteries or lower expenditure railguns are made.

    220v is no small amount and would require something like a battery backpack to make effective battlefield use... only much heavier than the current models

    Still, it looks cool and easily penetrates metal plates, though range and penetration versus existing anti-material rifles is a big question mark.



    Sure, it seems stupid, and to be honest is, but once upon a time it was a realistic proposition. What doomed the TV-8 wasn't the threat of being roasted to death by a reactor that was damaged, but rather that a nuclear propulsion device didn't offer any tangible benefits over existing tank engines.

    If there is a tangible benefit, like a railgun and its power requirements, maybe a re-look at the idea is worth having.

    It's still stupid though, and this is why railguns are being proposed as ship-mounted shore bombardment weapons.
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2016
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  5. Falcon

    Falcon Lieutenant Colonel Staff Member Social Media Team

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    Agree agree agree. Current technology prevents rail guns from being used on smaller platforms and infantry. Rail guns are decent for coastal bombardment if you are targeting critical assets but the guy in the article I posted says that they can't provide sustained fire to support marines storming a beach. Thats probably why we don't really see pictures or artist impressions showing ships with only rail guns.
     
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