General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems (GA-EMS) has been awarded a contract modification by the US Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Armaments Center (DEVCOM AC) to further the development and maturation of hypersonic projectiles, the company announced on 7 January.

The projectiles will be launched in high G-force and electromagnetic field environments to verify that the projectiles and associated gun-hardened guidance and control electronics perform as designed to intercept moving airborne targets, during live fire events scheduled through the end of 2021.

This is a critical next step toward the goal of integrating guided projectiles for railgun technologies into the air and missile defense command network, and closing the fire control loop to enable precision engagement and intercept of airborne targets,” stated Scott Forney, President of GA-EMS. “Over the past few years, we have made significant advancements in developing, manufacturing, and testing gun-hardened electronics, projectiles, and railgun weapon system technologies and components. Working closely with the Army’s DEVCOM AC, we will leverage our expertise and lessons learned to bring these disruptive technologies forward to provide greater defended range and strike capabilities for air and missile defense and long-range precision fires missions.”

In addition to efforts to advance railgun weapon systems, GA-EMS has made a significant investment in internal research and development to advance and mature critical gun-hardened guidance electronics, projectile structural components, and mechanical systems. Under this contract modification, GA-EMS will manufacture guided projectiles to undergo test firings from the Navy’s railgun at the White Sands Missile Range, NM, using the Navy’s armature and sabot package.

We have a successful track record verifying the survivability of our projectiles and establishing in-flight two-way data links, having previously conducted multiple test firing events at Dugway Proving Ground,” explained Nick Bucci, VP of Missile Defense and Space Systems. “The projectiles for this new round of testing include our fourth-generation gun-hardened guidance electronic units and enhanced telemetry components. We are looking forward to verifying the projectiles’ capability to sustain data links, control its trajectory via actuated control surfaces using command guidance, and hit moving airborne targets, all while undergoing incredible G-forces and at hypersonic speeds. For the future battlespace, this will mean greater precision and accuracy to meet and defeat airborne threats.”

The USN railgun test facility at White Sands, NM. (Photo via BAE Systems)

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