Monday, February 12, 2018

Derailed Gun

The Chinese appear ready to test a rail gun on a vessel. America dropped the ball on this long-range weapon system that would have given guns a range to rival more expensive missiles:

For nearly a decade, the US Navy's Office of Naval Research (ONR) and various contractors worked to develop a railgun system for US ships. A prototype weapon was built by BAE Systems. Testing at the US Navy's Naval Surface Warfare Center in Dahlgren, Virginia was deemed so successful that the Navy was planning to conduct more testing of the gun at sea aboard a Spearhead-class Joint High Speed Vessel (JHSV). ...

But the program has been largely shelved because of the Department of Defense's ongoing budget problems and the loss of interest at DOD's Strategic Capabilities Office in funding further development.

I've always wondered what happened to rail gun plans since I wrote a post in 2005 noting the rise of guns that could have spread serious long-range firepower away from the platform-centric aircraft carrier into a network-centric surface Navy.

We could have been at the dawn of that era, but instead here we are today with not only the then-follow-up rail gun derailed but the initial long-range ammunition for the truncated Zumwalt-class cancelled.

How is it possible to lose interest in this kind of capability?

Tip to Instapundit.

UPDATE: This author says the Navy is still interested. Okay. But how interested? Is the budget level really an indicator of serious interest or just inertia? My first post on this was quite some time ago and we are still far from having this weapon.