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  SoldierMod Volume 14 - December 2014
Volume 14 Articles

Country flagRail Gun for Army Ground Vehicle?

Future Tech

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The US Army has been considering a replacement for the Bradley Fighting Vehicle. However, since the cancellation of the Ground Combat Vehicle program due to budget cuts, Army officials want to see some new technologies before they decide to pursue a “Future Fighting Vehicle,” or an additional Bradley upgrade.

At the recent AUSA conference held in October, BAE Systems offered some intriguing options for a future ground combat vehicle, including a vehicle mounted version of the kinetic energy weapon, or “rail gun,” it currently has in development with the US Navy.

Unlike a conventional cannon, that uses a metal tube and standard ballistics to launch a projectile, a coil gun, or rail gun uses an electromagnetic field to fire a projectile at incredible speeds over great distances. The system developed by BAE, and currently being tested by the Office of Naval Research, can launch a 23-pound hyper-velocity projectile to ranges of 100 miles or more. The tremendous speed of the projectile gives it its incredible “kinetic energy” and destructive power, without the use of conventional payloads. As one Navy official put it, “it’s like driving a freight train through a brick wall from five feet away at over 100 miles an hour.”

In a Navy press release after a prototype of the weapon was successfully demonstrated from aboard the USS Millinocket in June, Rear Adm. Matthew Klunder, Chief of Naval Research, indicated that in addition to supplementing or replacing traditional artillery aboard Navy vessels, rail guns also offer a large price advantage over conventional missiles, as much as 100 times less than traditional missiles. Klunder also indicted that the system could be fully integrated into a ship as early as 2016, most likely the largest destroyer class, the Zumwalt, which is capable of producing the energy necessary to power the weapon.

BAE Systems officials said the rail gun would have to be scaled down significantly to be mounted to the turret of a Future Fighting Vehicle. However, the officials on hand at the AUSA show were confident it was possible.

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