NRL Commissions Small Railgun

04/14/2014 09:00 EDT - 37-14r
Contact: Daniel Parry, (202) 767-2541

The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) through support of the Office of Naval Research (ONR) commissioned the new small bore (1-inch in diameter) railgun (SRG) at the laboratory's Materials Testing Facility. The first shot was fired March 7 to inaugurate the next chapter in weapons research for the Navy and U.S. military forces.

NRL Small Railgun Ribbon Cutting and CommissioningThe Small Railgun (SRG), located at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory Materials Testing Facility, stands ready for the ceremonial ribbon cutting and inaugural test fire March 7, 2014. The SRG is an experimental small bore system (1-inch in diameter) designed to operate at several launches per minute. The first shot inaugurates the next chapter in weapons research for the Navy and U.S. military forces.
(Photo: U.S. Naval Research Laboratory/Jamie Hartman)

"This 'small railgun' is an experimental platform for a small bore system that could address modest power for land and sea based missions," said Dr. Robert A. Meger, head, NRL Charged Particle Physics Branch. "The SRG is designed to operate at several launches per minute from a mobile platform using advanced battery technology."

A railgun is a form of single turn linear motor. Magnetic fields generated by high currents driven in parallel conductors, rails, accelerate a sliding conductor, known as an armature, between the rails.

The NRL Railgun Program began in 2003. Since then it has become a critical element in the Navy's thrust to develop hypervelocity electric weapons for long-range fire support and ship self-defense. When the Navy deploys its first hypervelocity electric launcher, its success will be partially due to the efforts of the NRL railgun group.

In October 2011, NRL researchers reached a critical milestone, firing the one-thousandth shot from the larger experimental Electromagnetic Railgun. In February 2012, the Navy announced that it would begin testing a full-size prototype at its facility in Dahlgren, Va.

The NRL Railgun Materials Testing Facility focuses on materials issues for a major Navy effort to develop a long-range, electromagnetic launcher for a future electric ship. The NRL Plasma Physics Division conducts a broad program in laboratory and space plasma physics and related disciplines, high power lasers, pulsed-power sources, intense particle beams, advanced radiation sources, materials processing, and nonlinear dynamics.

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About the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory

The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory is the Navy's full-spectrum corporate laboratory, conducting a broadly based multidisciplinary program of scientific research and advanced technological development. The Laboratory, with a total complement of nearly 2,800 personnel, is located in southwest Washington, D.C., with other major sites at the Stennis Space Center, Miss., and Monterey, Calif. NRL has served the Navy and the nation for over 90 years and continues to meet the complex technological challenges of today's world. For more information, visit the NRL homepage or join the conversation on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

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