A 10MJ (mega joules) EM Railgun has been successfully developed domestically by ARDE (DRDO). According to a report in the DRDO Newsletter, additional development of up to 100MJ will take place at a special infrastructure facility called “CEMaLT” that is now under construction.
Railguns have the experimentally demonstrated ability to propel masses weighing several kilogrammes at speeds more than 2 km/s. Railguns are desirable acceleration devices for military payloads because they can travel at speeds that are greater than those attained by explosively powered weapons. In the military, it is necessary to accelerate loads up to several kilos to speeds between 2 and 3 km/s.
The burning of propellant in the gun chamber causes the projectile to accelerate in a typical gun barrel. However, the amount of propellant that can be put in a gun’s chamber is limited. A cannon needs a bigger chamber volume to hold a bigger amount of propellant, which lowers the pressure. The highest velocity that gases may accelerate projectiles to depends on the gas’s speed of sound.
Figure below summarises the gun propulsion methods used in conventional weapons.
In the most recent technique, known as “EM propulsion,” a projectile is propelled by EM energy resulting from the Lorentz force.
Unlike the gases in chemical energy-based propulsion, this sort of propulsion system has no theoretical limit on the medium’s velocity because electromagnetic phenomenon moves at the speed of light.
A railgun based on a 10 MJ capacitor bank has been successfully created, built, and installed at ARDE, Pune, using programmable pulsed power technology. Using this equipment, hypervelocity propulsion of more than 2000 m/s has been accomplished. For experimental evaluation and system performance, a number of dynamic firing trials using the 10 MJ EM railgun were carried out from a fixed firing position. Through these tests, EM railguns with barrel sizes ranging from 12 mm to 45 mm and projectile weights of 80 gm, 120 gm, 250 gm, and 500 gm have been characterised.
The configuration and design technique can be expanded based on the knowledge gained following the successful completion of the Technology Demonstration (TD) project in order to attain increased speed, range, and lethality in a futuristic rail gun.