February 11, 2005
In 1999, a decision was made by the U.S. Navy's leadership to adopt the concept of an all-electric integrated power system for the next generation of surface warships, the DD(X) destroyer. The excess electric power available on these ships made it a practical proposition to arm them with electro-magnetic guns. These weapons are not limited by the thermodynamic constraints imposed on the muzzle velocities of conventional guns. A projectile fired by an electro-magnetic gun with a muzzle velocity of 2500 meters/second can achieve a range of about 450 kilometers. Such a weapon would clearly have important new military capabilities. The Navy has recently put a program in place to develop these weapons with funding of about $250 million for five years. The current status of this program and the future prospects will be discussed.
Dr. Hans Mark specializes in the study of spacecraft and aircraft design, hypervelocity projectiles and impact, and national defense policy. Currently he holds the John J. McKetta Centennial Energy Chair in Engineering in the College of Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin. He served as chancellor of The University of Texas System from 1984 to 1992. He previously taught at Boston University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of California at Berkeley, and Stanford University. Dr. Mark has served as director of the NASA-Ames Research Center, Secretary of the Air Force, Deputy Administrator of NASA and most recently, the Director of Defense Research and Engineering. He has published more than 180 technical reports and authored or edited eight books. Dr. Mark is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and an Honorary Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.