The Electromagnetic Systems Group of General Atomics (GA-EMS) is actively working to bring electromagnetic railgun technology to the Department of Defense for multiple missions: integrated air and missile defense, surface fire support and anti-surface warfare.
GA-EMS's expertise in electromagnetics stems from GA's long history in high power electrical systems, from developing and building both fission and fusion reactors, through the Navy's first electromagnetic launch and recovery equipment for aircraft carriers.
GA-EMS has developed, built and successfully tested two railguns, the internally funded the Blitzer™ 3 MJ system and a 32 MJ launcher for the Office of Naval Research (ONR). GA-EMS also designed and built the pulse power supply for both guns and is developing projectiles for air and missile defense and precision strike.
GA-EMS is continuing the Blitzer family of railguns with a 10 MJ system designed for mobile and fixed land-based applications.
Railguns deliver muzzle velocities up to twice those of conventional guns, resulting in shorter time to target and higher lethality at greater range with no propellant required onboard the platform. Railguns offer much deeper magazines and lower cost per engagement compared with missiles of comparable range.
Shorter time to the target and extended range – Railguns can reliably launch projectiles to muzzle velocities of Mach 6-7+. A round fired at sea level can reach the horizon in 6 to 7 seconds and still be traveling faster than a conventional gun‑launched munition at its muzzle.
Lethality without high explosives – Hypervelocity impact achieves high lethality through kinetic energy, eliminating the safety and logistic burdens of explosives.
Multi-mission capability – Railgun weapon systems employ guided, maneuverable projectiles which can accomplish multiple missions with the same round. Railguns can also fire a family of different projectiles with varying capabilities, levels of sophistication, and cost.
Elimination of propellant – Because rounds are launched electromagnetically, propellant is not required. This results in much smaller rounds, enabling many more stowed rounds in a constrained volume as well as improved safety and reduced logistics burden.
Lower cost – The confluence of microelectronics, nanotechnologies, and electromagnetic acceleration enable missile performance without rocket motors. Railgun-launched guided projectiles are expected to be much lower cost than current assets for integrated air and missile defense.
Higher fire power – With deep magazines and high, sustained firing rates, railguns provide unprecedented fire power.
Reduced Asymmetry – The lower cost and higher fire power of railguns levels the playing field with potential adversaries.