Maybe this is the end of the line for the Navy’s hyperspeed projectile
Time seems to be running out for the Navy’s much-publicized electromagnetic rail cannon after the service halted development of the hyperspeed lathe it was supposed to fire in order to make room for new programs. A snapshot of the White House’s FY2022 budget request shows that the gun-guided projectile, previously known as hypervelocity projectile, has been canceled, saving $ 5.9 million.
“[The Department of the Navy] has ended the research and development effort of guided projectiles launched by firearms. strategic capabilities officer in terminal defense analysis. “
The “resource realignment” was an entry in a long list of Navy programs and platform cuts and divestments that included the accelerated retirement of the classic F / A-18 Hornet and a number of ships.
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The meter-long projectile was first developed exclusively as a cartridge for the Navy’s experimental rail cannon, a $ 500 million effort that claimed to use electricity to fire projectiles at speeds up to ‘at Mach 6 and ranges of up to 110 nautical miles. Despite the more than 15 years this program has spent in development without being deployed, Navy officials have continued to insist they see a future for the weapon. Admiral John Richardson, then chief of naval operations, told Military.com in 2018 that the service was “fully invested” in the rail gun and continued development.
The hypervelocity projectile, however, appeared to gain momentum after authorities realized that it could be paired not only with the rail gun, but also with existing ship deck guns to provide high firepower. speed and low cost.
The most recent public release of the projectile was in 2018, when the guided missile destroyer Dewey fired 20 shells from a Mk 45 deck gun during the massive Rim of the Pacific exercise.
“You can get 15 rounds per minute for an air defense mission, as well as a ground-to-ground mission,” Bryan Clark, then of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, told USNI News in 2019. “That adds a missile. important defense capacity when you think that each of them could replace a [Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile] or one [Rolling Airframe Missile]. They are much cheaper. “
History has also noted that the Gun Guided Projectile, or GLGP, was considered a shell for Army and Marine Corps 155mm ground howitzers.
But while GLGP might be cheaper than some missile systems, which can cost $ 1 million to $ 2 million per turn, it was still far from cheap. A 2020 Congressional Research Service report noted that each of the towers cost around $ 85,000 in 2018 dollars.
And despite the promise GLGP seemed to hold for a range of multi-service uses, the CRS report noted that commissioning ships would involve cycle integration with existing combat systems, as well as testing and testing. additional war games. After five years of development, these follow-up steps have not yet taken place.
“The transition of military technology efforts from the research and development phase to the procurement phase can sometimes be a challenge,” the report says. “Some military technology efforts fail to make the transition, falling into what observers sometimes call the ‘valley of death’.”
Meanwhile, the news looks just as grim for the railgun. Military technology news site The War Zone reported that the program was not funded in next year’s budget request, with no mention of plans to resume development efforts.
– Hope Hodge Seck can be contacted at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at @HopeSeck.
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