The U.S. navy have developed a new ‘star wars’ style weapon that can fire a missiles at three times the speed of sound from existing warship guns.
Naval Sea Systems Command are testing the hyper velocity projectiles (HPVs) which apparently contain the sinister motto ‘I, who am speed, eradicate’
The new guided rounds were originally designed as part of the Navy’s railgun project, which will fire them at mach 5 – but is not expected to be available until 2025.
However, Navy bosses now believe they can adapt the projectiles to be fired through normal guns – albeit at a slower Mach 3 speed.
Naval Sea Systems Command are now in early testing phases of using the planned hyper velocity projectile (HVPs) with the service’s existing gunpowder-based deck guns found on almost every U.S. Navy surface ship, NAVSEA told USNI News.
The new projectiles will be more than double the speed of an unguided regular shell from the service’s Mk 45 five-inch gun found on its guided missile cruisers and destroyers, according to information from NAVSEA.
Navy bosses hope that by using existing guns, they can bring the weapons online far sooner.
According to NAVSEA, the service is also investigating using HVP in larger guns than the MK 45.
‘The round is being designed to be compatible with multiple guns in the U.S. inventory,’ read the NAVSEA statement to USNI News.
Both BAE Systems and General Atomics have worked with the service on railgun and projectile technology, though NAVSEA did not specify any companies working on the effort.
‘This is a government-led effort, and we are working to involve a number of different defense contractors at this stage,’ NAVSEA said.
A BAE Systems designed railgun will undergo a first round of at-sea testing next year.
Warships can carry dozens of conventional missiles, which cost around £600,000 each, but could be loaded with hundreds of railgun projectiles, at only £15,000 each.
The projectiles, Hyper Velocity Projectiles, are also under development by BAE.
Earlier the year the dedicated railgun capable of firing at seven times the speed of sound was shown off in public for the first time.
Described as ‘Star Wars technology’ by researchers, the railgun can fire shells at seven times speed of sound, and penetrate concrete 100 miles away.
The weapon was on display to the public for the first time at the Naval Future Force Science and Technology EXPO at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C.
Using electromagnetic energy, the gun can fire a shell weighing 10kg at up to 5,400mph over 100 miles – with such force and accuracy it penetrates three concrete walls or six half-inch thick steel plates.
Two prototypes of the weapon have been developed for the US Navy – one by British arms manufacturer BAE Systems and the second by a US firm.
The BAE version was shown off earlier this year.
Rear Admiral Matthew Klunder, head of US Naval Research, said the futuristic electromagnetic railgun – so called because it fires from two parallel rails – had already undergone extensive testing on land.
It will be mounted on high-speed vessel the USNS Millinocket for sea trials in 2016.
‘It’s now reality and it’s not science fiction,’ Admiral Klunder said.
‘An electromagnetic railgun is a gun that uses just electricity – no gun powder – and … can shoot a projectile well over 100 miles at Mach 7.
‘Energetic weapons, such as EM railguns, are the future of naval combat.’
Electromagnetic launchers were one of the areas researched by Ronald Reagan’s Strategic Defence Initiative, nicknamed ‘Star Wars’ after the science fiction film franchise.
Admiral Klunder added: ‘It will help us in air defence, it will help us in cruise missile defence, it will help us in ballistic missile defence … we’re also talking about a gun that’s going to shoot a projectile that’s about one one-hundredth of the cost of an existing missile system today.
‘It … will give our adversaries a huge moment of pause to go, ‘Do I even want to go engage a naval ship?’.’