DRDO Electromagnetic Railgun:- How much progress has India made on rail gun technology?
Rail gun is a weapon capable of launching projectile without the usage of explosives or propellants, but, are launched at extremely high velocities, mach 7 (at sea level) or more. Capability of launching projectiles at velocities higher than guns and cannons makes rail gun hit targets at greater ranges capable of hitting the target with extreme speed and accuracy thus nullifying the escape factor of the enemy platform or an approaching projectile. With the usage of rail gun the hazards of usage of explosives and chemical propellants are evaded as well.
Ever since the U.S. NAVY showed the power of the Railgun and its advantages,we in the Indian Defense Research organization feel that this latest weapon the electromagnetic railgun launcher will give our Naval forces in the Arabian sea a superlative advantage and a capability to launch devastating attacks on both land and sea targets.
But In Reality “India” was the first to get into this highly futuristic weapon programme.
In 1994 itself DRDO was the first to publish there papers after successfully prototyping the concept, but no our brloved NETAS and BABU Gan were at the helm of the MoD, people who were probably not even graduated or never in their entire life would differentiate between “Mortar” and “Motor” were the deciding authority of such a highly ambitious project. But the deep ingrained socialist in them asked them to shut down the programme, because people are dying of hunger so and so. Completely neglecting the fact once these systems get finalised they pop up hundred of small industries with them, they bring business which bring money which will help them to get job and earn money eventually will satiate their hunger educate them.
Another DRDO publication of October 2003 originating from HEMRL indicates that they are researching on the fields of nonconventional concepts of solid projectile propulsion such as Liquid Gun Propellant, Rail Gun, Coil Gun, Electrothermal Gun, Electrothermal Chemical Gun along with Conventional Energetic Solid Gun propellants.
So, as per the article, its not only Railgun which they are working on but other kind of alternate projectile propulsion also including Coil Gun. Their inner working concepts, properties, pros and cons are also mentioned briefly.
Come 2014,by now China, Germany, Turkey, USA all had started to investing in their own rail gun project. DRDO project was restarted, re-funded being alloted, three years later in November 2017 they successfully tested another ammunition that was much bigger and powerful than the that of 1994 one.
So here is the big thing:
Project goes abandoned status 23 years ago.
Meanwhile many scientist, engineers and technicians left, retired or died , the team is almost dimantled in 2.5 decades.
New scientist, engineers and technicians are recruited who don’t know $hit about the experimental setup, data collected, procedures and hence they re-learn, re-innovate and re-set from whatever is available afterall after the fiscal year they are answerable to MoD if not to public,where did they spend the money and what is the result.
Still they again bring every thing back from scratch in just three years and this time bigger, better and stronger. Again they did a successful test and the media stays numb. Because after two days they will publish the news “DRDO’s so and so project MAY face delay/rejection” and the real innovation is never shown.
Recently DRDO Stated That they had Developed,a 12 mm square bore Electromagnetic Railgun (EMRG) and successfully tested. Another 30 mm square bore EMRG is also ready for tests.Their target is to accelerate a 1 kg projectile to a velocity of more than 2000 m/s (~Mach 6) with a capacitor bank of 10 Mega Joules.
As of now it is in a rudimentary prototype stage and further tests are required to improve it’s performance and make it a feasible weapon system.
The electromagnetic railgun represents an incredible new blistering offensive capability for our Navy which rules the Arabian sea right now. This capability will allow us to effectively counter a wide range of threats at a relatively low cost, while keeping our ships and sailors safer by removing the need to carry many high-explosive weapons on the ship.
This massive railgun that we are developing needs just one navy-gunner/sailor to operate and it relies on the electromagnetic energy of the Lorentz force—the combination of electric and magnetic forces on a point charge—for power.
The problem is that the only ships that will be able to generate the gargantuan 25 megawatts of power (enough to power almost 19,000 homes) required to fire the railgun are the aircraft Carrier and Destroyers
The issue of power is a barrier that will get smaller with time. New capacitors, more resistant materials and better pulse power storage systems could
all contribute to making the railgun more efficient. Computer-aided design, 3D printing techniques and better dielectric materials—materials that don’t conduct electricity but can store energy in the form of an electrostatic field—could all lead to making the EM railgun viable.
The Indian Navy likes this weapon for several reasons, not the least of which it has a range of 200 miles and doesn’t require explosive warheads. That makes it far safer for sailors, and cheaper for taxpayers. According to the Indian Army and Navy experts each 12-inch diameter tapered projectile which is 6 feet in Length and 250 pounds costs about Rs 15,00,000, compared to Rs 7500,000 for conventional missiles.
Also since the missiles are hurled at the speed of mach 7-8. they will hit their targets within seconds after being fired with explosive force.
It seems that future warfare attack as well as defence systems will have to depend on radars and launch platforms having the ability to respond within extremely small scope of reaction time and having the capability to launch hypersonic projectiles/missiles and ultra high energy DEW within that time to counter launches from platforms such as the rail gun. With such lethal launching platforms of weapon the launching platform which will detect and launch an attack first will hold a great advantage over its adversary.