Why is an electromagnetic railgun called the weapon of the future?
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.
For a long time, Gun powder has been used as a propellant in weapons.
Then why was there a need to make this electromagnetic rail gun despite having this gun powder ?
There are many reasons behind this, mainly due to the below three major flaws of gray colored gun powder.
- The first limitation is that in order to use gun powder, it has to be applied inside the bullet or projectile, which ultimately increases the weight of that bullet or projectile.
- Its second limitation is that gun powder is volatile, ie If we kept in open air, it will evaporate in the air like a camphor, so handling and transporting gun powder proves quite difficult.
- Third limitation is that the speed of the projectile or bullet to be fired using gun powder is limited.
Because of above three major limitations of gun powder, the electromagnetic rail gun was made.
The electromagnetic rail gun uses magnetic field instead of gun powder and also does not reduce the speed of the projectile to be fired. Electromagnetic Rail gun is capable of firing a Projectile at a speed of MACH 7 delivering tremendous kinetic force, compared to a conventional weapon using an electromagnetic rail gun gun powder. Projectile speed would be approximately 7 times faster than the speed of sound. Electromagnetic rail gun can hit the target at a distance of 250 miles and that too in just 6 minutes.
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.
Does India have an Electromagnetic Rail Gun or not?
- Let me tell you that Indian Agency DRDO ( Defence Research and Development Organisation) is working on the rail gun project of India and currently this project is still under development stages and also according to media reports in November 2017 , The electromagnetic rail gun was also tested by the Indian Scientists, during this test India’s Electromagnetic Rail Gun fired the projectile at a speed of 4600 mile per hour.
The Navy is looking into other uses for rail-guns, besides land bombardment, such as air defense. with the right targeting systems, projectiles could intercept aircraft, cruise missiles, and even ballistic missiles.
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.