General Atomics Team Powers Navy Rail Gun to New World Record

Feb 07, 2008

San Diego, CA. 7 February 2008. General Atomics (GA) and its team members were instrumental in providing the pulse power system for the record-breaking firing of the Navy’s electromag¬netic rail gun launcher on January 31, 2008 at the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Dahlgren, VA. The Electromagnetic Railgun Innovative Naval Prototype is sponsored by Office of Naval Research, Arlington, VA. The power was provided by a new 9-megajoule (MJ) prototype capacitor bank using state-of-the-art solid-state switches and high-energy-density capacitors delivered in 2007 and an older 32- MJ pulse power system from the US Army’s Green Farm Electric Gun Research and Development Facility developed in the late 1980’s that was previously refurbished by the GA Team.

The capacitors store energy from an AC power source and quickly release it in a very large and fast current pulse to power the rail gun launcher. The January 31 firing delivered 10.64 MJ of kinetic energy (a new record) with a muzzle velocity of 2,520 meters per second. The GA Team is currently building an additional 72 MJ of capacitor banks for the firing of a launcher that will deliver 32 MJ of muzzle energy in 2011. General Atomics’ Electromagnetic Systems Division Vice President, Scott Forney comments “GA is proud to support the Navy and the Office of Naval Research in achievement of this important program milestone and is working hard to bring cutting-edge technologies for this game-changing transformational weapon system.”

The rail gun launcher technology uses high power electromagnetic energy instead of explosive chemical propellants (energetics) to propel a projectile farther and faster than any preceding gun. This system will launch guided projectiles at speeds up to Mach 7.5 with a range of more than 200 nautical miles.

The GA Team, under Program Director, Tom Hurn, includes major support from GA affiliate Electronic Systems Incorporated, which produces capacitors and power supplies, and L3-Communications Pulse Sciences Division.

General Atomics is also one of two firms currently under contract with the Office of Naval Research to develop a 32-MJ advanced launcher appropriate for use in a shipboard application, which can be extrapolated to meet the 200+ nautical mile mission.

General Atomics is a San Diego-based innovation firm with a 50-year history of successful solutions for defense, energy, and environmental challenges. GA specializes in performing innovative R&D and transforming conceptual results into practical systems. Affiliated manufacturing and commercial service companies include General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc., which produces the Predator® family of unmanned aerial systems.

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Carl Fisher
Director, Business Development
Advanced Technologies Group
(202) 496-8217

Doug Fouquet
Public Relations
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Nancy Hitchcox
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Advanced Technologies Group
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