US Navy coughs $34.5m for hyper-kill railgun that DOESN'T self-destruct

Previous $21m deal got them few-shots-and-it's-over model


BAE Systems has been handed a $34.5m contract to design a new version of a potentially game-changing weapon of the future.

The US Office of Naval Research gave BAE the cash to build a new railgun prototype which is capable of firing up to 10 shots a minute, while staying cool enough that it doesn't blow up like previous designs. This tendency towards self-destruction has been an abiding problem with the weapons, with railgun prototypes only really expected to survive firing a few shots.

Railguns dispense with explosives and use electromagnetic energy to propel a projectile at super high speeds of up to Mach 7 over distances approaching 200 miles. They are useful for blasting other ships, because the projectiles are extremely difficult to intercept, but could also be used to swat away jet fighters, bombers or missiles.

The Reg's defence expert has previously said the railgun could usher in the second era of the dreadnoughts, the sort of heavily armed gunships that ruled the sea in the days before aircraft carriers.

“We’re committed to developing this innovative and game changing technology that will revolutionize naval warfare,” said Chris Hughes, vice president and general manager of Weapon Systems at BAE Systems. “The railgun’s ability to defend against enemy threats from distances greater than ever before improves the capabilities of our armed forces.”

The contract is part of the ONR's Innovative Naval Prototype programme, which has now reached phase 2. The navy wants to see the technology mature by focusing on upgrading the auto-loading mechanism, thermal management system and also the pulsed power supply which helps to power each shot. It is hoped these weapons will be able to fire up to 10 shots a minute.

During Phase 1 of the scheme, Naval Surface Warfare Center in Dahlgren, Virginia successfully fired BAE Systems’ EM Railgun prototype at "tactical energy levels".

Work on the new railgun will begin immediately in BAE Systems's outpost in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The firm will be helped along by IAP Research in Dayton, Ohio and SAIC in Marietta, Georgia.

BAE is not the first company to design a railgun. General Atomics have also made and fired a railgun weapon called Blitzer. ®


Other stories you might like

  • Snowflake stock drops as some top customers cut usage
    You might say its valuation is melting away

    IPO darling Snowflake's share price took a beating in an already bearish market for tech stocks after filing weaker than expected financial guidance amid a slowdown in orders from some of its largest customers.

    For its first quarter of fiscal 2023, ended April 30, Snowflake's revenue grew 85 percent year-on-year to $422.4 million. The company made an operating loss of $188.8 million, albeit down from $205.6 million a year ago.

    Although surpassing revenue expectations, the cloud-based data warehousing business saw its valuation tumble 16 percent in extended trading on Wednesday. Its stock price dived from $133 apiece to $117 in after-hours trading, and today is cruising back at $127. That stumble arrived amid a general tech stock sell-off some observers said was overdue.

    Continue reading
  • Amazon investors nuke proposed ethics overhaul and say yes to $212m CEO pay
    Workplace safety, labor organizing, sustainability and, um, wage 'fairness' all struck down in vote

    Amazon CEO Andy Jassy's first shareholder meeting was a rousing success for Amazon leadership and Jassy's bank account. But for activist investors intent on making Amazon more open and transparent, it was nothing short of a disaster.

    While actual voting results haven't been released yet, Amazon general counsel David Zapolsky told Reuters that stock owners voted down fifteen shareholder resolutions addressing topics including workplace safety, labor organizing, sustainability, and pay fairness. Amazon's board recommended voting no on all of the proposals.

    Jassy and the board scored additional victories in the form of shareholder approval for board appointments, executive compensation and a 20-for-1 stock split. Jassy's executive compensation package, which is tied to Amazon stock price and mostly delivered as stock awards over a multi-year period, was $212 million in 2021. 

    Continue reading
  • Confirmed: Broadcom, VMware agree to $61b merger
    Unless anyone out there can make a better offer. Oh, Elon?

    Broadcom has confirmed it intends to acquire VMware in a deal that looks set to be worth $61 billion, if it goes ahead: the agreement provides for a “go-shop” provision under which the virtualization giant may solicit alternative offers.

    Rumors of the proposed merger emerged earlier this week, amid much speculation, but neither of the companies was prepared to comment on the deal before today, when it was disclosed that the boards of directors of both organizations have unanimously approved the agreement.

    Michael Dell and Silver Lake investors, which own just over half of the outstanding shares in VMware between both, have apparently signed support agreements to vote in favor of the transaction, so long as the VMware board continues to recommend the proposed transaction with chip designer Broadcom.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022