Brian Detter, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for expeditionary programs and logistics management, visited with Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD) last month for briefings on a number of the command's research and development programs.
Detter toured the electromagnetic rail gun facility and was briefed on NSWCDD's directed energy initiatives, the Distributed Tactical Communication System (DTCS), and the Gunslinger Package for Advanced Convoy Security (GunPACS).
The EM railgun launcher's initial testing at Dahlgren on Feb. 28 kicked off a two-month long test series by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) sponsor to evaluate the first of two industry-built launchers. The tests will bring the Navy closer to a new naval gun system capable of extended ranges against surface, air and ground targets.
"This is the next step toward a future tactical system that will be placed on board a ship some day," said Roger Ellis, ONR EM Railgun Program Manager (pictured to the left of DASN Detter), in a February ONR news release. "This industry prototype represents a step beyond our previous successful demonstrations of the laboratory launcher."
The EM Railgun launcher is a long-range weapon that fires projectiles using electricity instead of chemical propellants. Magnetic fields created by high electrical currents accelerate a sliding metal conductor, or armature, between two rails to launch projectiles at 4,500 mph to 5,600 mph.
With its increased velocity and extended range, the EM Railgun will give Sailors a multi-mission capability, allowing them to conduct precise naval surface fire support, or land strikes; cruise missile and ballistic missile defense; and surface warfare to deter enemy vessels. Navy planners are targeting a 50 to 100-nautical mile initial capability with expansion up to 220 nautical miles.
* NSWCDD technologists have been making a difference in directed energy research and development throughout the decades. Their understanding - and discoveries - led to the methodologies behind the electromagnetic launch of projectiles using stored electrical energy. These methodologies are critical to the evolution of the Railgun Program. The ONR, Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate, and Surface Navy Directed Energy and Electric Weapons Program Office sponsor the variety of directed energy work performed at the NSWCDD Naval Directed Energy Center.
* The Distributed Tactical Communication System is the result of collaborative work between scientists and engineers from NSWC Dahlgren and the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory. The system was developed by taking commercial off-the-shelf parts by applying science, technology and systems integration to support satellites and multiple platforms that can be carried as handsets into the field. DTCS handsets provide on-the-move, over-the-horizon, beyond line-of-sight voice and position location information without the need for ground infrastructure.
* NSWC Dahlgren engineers' rapid systems integration of GunPACS prototype Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacements with GunPACS technology provides warfighters with enhanced situational awareness, immediate threat detection, and cooperative engagement capabilities for ground and combat logistics elements. Utilizing networked data fusion, such cooperative engagement enables more accurate and effective fire.