By Madison Ruppert
The Office of Naval Research – the same entity which runs the Naval Research Laboratory, developers of the unbelievable Shipboard Autonomous Firefighting Robot (SAFFiR) – apparently was not satisfied with their already astounding Electromagnetic Rail Gun.
A 5,600 mph electrically fired bullet apparently wasn’t enough, thus forcing the Office of Naval Research (ONR) to create one which also can be guided by Global Positioning System (GPS).
To set the bar even higher, if such a thing is possible, the United States Navy also wants to make this technology compatible with all of the Navy’s current artillery guns.
This technology apparently has so much promise that Admiral Gary Roughead, former top officer in the Navy, said of technology like this as well as lasers (which have already cost the taxpayer billions), “You’re beginning, maybe, to see the end of the dominance of the missile.”
Roughead even told Wired’s Danger Room last year that the rise of lasers will create a global military division between “countries that can afford to go into directed energy and countries that can’t,” with the countries that can afford the research having the obvious upper hand.
Interestingly, in the ONR’s solicitation originally posted on July 19, 2012, it is stated that the Hyper Velocity Projectile (HVP) program “will explore technologies related to extended range guided projectiles for Naval Surface Fire Support (NSFS) and exploit recent advances in miniaturized electronics, guided projectiles and mortars, and warhead technology for small UAV [Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, better known as a drone] launched munitions.”
Elsewhere they refer to the “guided” aspect of the weapon as “potential in-flight retargeting.”
The bullets they are developing will a potential range of anywhere from 30 to 200 miles depending on if it is fired by 5” Mark 45 Mod guns or Mach-8 rail guns, respectively.
Personally, I find it quite frustrating to see the military continue to spend money as if we had any to spend in the first place while our so-called representatives keep signing the checks to the war profiteers.
This is emphasized by the fact that according to the ONR, they are planning “a multi-stage program leading to full-up live-fire demonstrations of the technology” around the end of 2017.
Yet the 2017 target date is still far short of the estimated time when the weapons will actually be deployed, which is somewhere in the early 2020s.
However, the Navy will likely not begin awarding contracts until mid-2013 at which time the first phase of the program, lasting nine months, will begin.
Even this quite lengthy timetable seems to be overly optimistic and Danger Room rightly points out, “Given the Navy’s mixed record with futuristic technologies like the rail gun, it’s hard to predict when these super-fast bullets will see the light of day.”
Considering the fact that the Navy has already poured in at least $240 million and no less than seven years into researching rail guns, I don’t see the future as all that bright.
To make matters even worse, the program was almost closed down last year due to concerns over the challenges posed by the technology, which in my opinion are more than valid considering the historical precedent.
Personally I see no reason to think that this will be making an appearance on the battlefield any time soon but we can be sure of the fact that many millions, if not billions, of dollars we do not even have will be spent towards that end.