It’s been about a year since the U.S. Navy canceled the railgun project, for a number of reasons. It is a pity for the electromagnetic cannon, but after the technology has been almost tightened, elements remain that can still become very useful. One of them is ammunition for the railgun.
The US Air Force wants to build and test a prototype self-propelled gun in the near future, which will be able to shoot down missiles with the enemy’s flat trajectory. He should use ammunition for the railgun.
The primary role for this cannon will probably be to protect US bases abroad. But other uses are already emerging, including the protection of critical military and civilian targets in the United States. In connection with the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the risk of flat-flying missiles, which are difficult to defend against, is clear.
The US Air Force called the system the Hypervelocity Ground Weapon System (HGWS) and is asking for about $ 89 million to develop it in 2023. One of the basic requirements is that this self-propelled gun can be transported by conventional Lockheed C-130 Hercules transport aircraft.
There is little information available. The basic characteristics of the self-propelled gun are almost identical to the concept of the advanced Multi-Domain Artillery Cannon (MDAC), which was introduced last year by the developers of the US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL).
Artillery system with a large-caliber cannon
According to this concept, it should be an artillery system on a 6×6 chassis, which will be equipped with a large-caliber cannon. The system should have a relatively high rate of fire and the projectiles should leave the barrel at a very high rate.
According to commentators The design of the HGWS is broadly similar to the 155 mm self-propelled howitzers, which are equipped with semi-automatic charging systems and can therefore fire at short intervals.
For example, the Nordic self-propelled gun Archer Artillery System, which is used by the Swedish army. According to the manufacturer, Archer can arrive at the designated place, fire 4 projectiles and set off again in 74 seconds. At the same time, it has a magazine for 21 projectiles.
The use of ammunition in the railgun, ie HVP (Hypervelocity projectile) projectiles, makes sense, according to commentators. A flat-track missile defense system could emerge, one shot being cheaper than traditional ground-to-air missile defense.
If the new system has a similar projectile magazine as Archer, it will surpass today’s usual missile defense in terms of the number of shots per ready system.
Cover illustration photo: BAE Systems