rail gun

Experimental Navy laser

WASHINGTON: How do you stop 1,000 missiles? Current missile defenses can’t. They’re designed to stop a small attack from a rogue state. But even rogue states like North Korea — let alone power players like China’s Second Artillery — can now throw more missiles at us than we have interceptors to shoot them down. That’s why the military, industry,… Keep reading →

Navy rail gun test

WASHINGTON: Rail gun bullets move seven times the speed of sound. Laser beams fire at the speed of light. But Pentagon procurement? Not so fast. But with both Congress and the Navy Secretary expressing impatience, the Navy is accelerating its efforts to move both lasers and rail guns from the test phase into the fleet. “We’ve… Keep reading →

CSBA graphic

WASHINGTON: Someone shoots a cruise missile at you. How far away would you like to stop it: over 200 miles out or less than 35? If you answered “over 200,” congratulations, you’re thinking like the US Navy, which has spent billions of dollars over decades to develop ever more sophisticated anti-missile defenses. According to Bryan… Keep reading →


Here’s the final piece of Bill Greenwalt’s blueprint for a new defense acquisition system. As Bill points out in this, the third piece: “now comes the hard part.” Congress and the Pentagon have proven clumsily adept at tinkering with the acquisition system over the last 20 years. But no matter how well intentioned, weapons just… Keep reading →

Adm. Jonathan Greenert, Chief of Naval Operations.

[UPDATED April 8 with more rail gun & laser detail from Rear Adm. Klunder] NATIONAL HARBOUR: 23 pounds ain’t heavy. But it sure hurts when it hits you going at seven times the speed of sound. That’s what a prototype Navy weapon called a “rail gun” can do, and it does it without a single… Keep reading →

A Navy cruiser launches a Harpoon anti-ship missile, a 1977 design unsuited for long-range war in the Pacific.

CRYSTAL CITY: “I’ve never wanted to enter any tactical scenario where all I had is a defensive capability. It’s a losing proposition,” said the chief of Pacific Command, Adm. Samuel Locklear. “You will defend yourself until you’re dead.” That was the PACOM commander’s blunt and public response when I asked him about the chronic imbalance between… Keep reading →

USS Zumwalt (DDG-1000)

WASHINGTON: To boldly go in a revolutionary ship where no one has commanded before. Why the clumsy Star Trek reference? Because the Navy’s newest, stealthy, most radical ship, the USS Zumwalt, will be commanded by the fabulously named Capt. James A. Kirk. The Navy couldn’t make something like this up, could they? The Zumwalt, launched… Keep reading →

WASHINGTON: The Navy’s top admiral talked up cheap ships and high tech this morning, from laser weapons to a new double-decker version of the Mobile Landing Platform vessel (pictured above). Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert said precious little about the rolling budget cuts called sequestration. He clearly preferred to emphasize a bold vision of the future rather than the current budget crisis that has forced the fleet to halve its aircraft carrier presence in the volatile Persian Gulf.

Indeed, speaking at a Newseum conference sponsored by McAleese & Associates and Credit Suisse [click here for full coverage], the CNO struck a remarkably optimistic note about the current fiscal misery: “If we get a bill at the end of this month, all of the carrier woes” — delays not just to deployments but to maintenance overhauls — “all go away,” Adm. Greenert said. “The money’s in place; we [just] need the authority to spend it.” Keep reading →

WASHINGTON: The Navy has begun a critical phase in its quest for a revolutionary weapon that could reach out and touch someone with massive force at more than 100 miles, without using an ounce of gun powder or rocket fuel.

The Navy has fired six test shots with the first of two industry prototypes of an electromagnetic rail gun, a weapon that uses a massive surge of electricity to propel a 40-pound hunk of metal to seven times the speed of sound in an instant, the Office of Naval Research (ONR) said today. The device produced by BAE Systems already has demonstrated a power level strong enough to fire a projectile 50 nautical miles, Roger Ellis, EM Rail gun program manager at ONR, said. Keep reading →

WASHINGTON: The Navy’s weapon of the future will take one step closer to reality this month, as service officials prepare to test fire the first industry-built prototype of its fabled Railgun.

ONR testers will fire off a BAE Systems-built version of the weapon next week at the Navy’s surface warfare center in Dahlgren, VA., according to Roger Ellis, head of the Railgun program at the Office of Naval Research’s Air Warfare and Weapons department. Another rail gun variant built by defense firm General Atomics will arrive at Dahlgren sometime in April for testing, a service spokesman said. There is no word when Raytheon is expected to begin testing their rail gun variant. The Navy awarded the company a $10 million deal late last month to begin prototype work on the next-generation weapon. Live fire testing for both industry prototypes is scheduled to last for two months, Ellis said. Keep reading →