Missile Defense Agency Nudged to Pursue Navy’s Rail Gun

Global Security Newswire Staff
May 2, 2014, 9:01 a.m.

A draft House bill en­vi­sions the Mis­sile De­fense Agency as­sum­ing man­age­ment from the Navy of a pro­ject to de­vel­op an elec­tro­mag­net­ic rail gun.

The House Armed Ser­vices Sub­com­mit­tee on Stra­tegic Forces in its mark-up of yearly de­fense au­thor­iz­a­tion le­gis­la­tion noted the prom­ise of the tech­no­logy as a “more af­ford­able air and mis­sile de­fense” al­tern­at­ive, In­side De­fense re­por­ted on Thursday.

The le­gis­la­tion in­cludes a dir­ect­ive for the Mis­sile De­fense Agency to work with the Pentagon’s Stra­tegic Cap­ab­il­it­ies Of­fice to draft a re­port by mid-Novem­ber that de­tails a test­ing strategy for de­term­in­ing the “suit­ab­il­ity of this [elec­tro­mag­net­ic rail gun] tech­no­logy for trans­fer to MDA for fur­ther de­vel­op­ment activ­ity.”

The sub­com­mit­tee said the Mis­sile De­fense Agency, with its spe­cial au­thor­ity to speed along the ac­quis­i­tion pro­cess, was in a unique po­s­i­tion to move for­ward the work done thus far by the Navy and the Stra­tegic Cap­ab­il­it­ies Of­fice.

The Mis­sile De­fense Agency has already singled out the rail gun as a “pri­or­ity” tech­no­logy in light of its pos­sib­il­it­ies as a com­par­at­ively reas­on­ably priced an­ti­mis­sile tech­no­logy for use against theat­er-level bal­list­ic mis­sile threats.

The rail gun is op­er­ated by an en­ergy pulse in­stead of ex­plos­ive fuel and is en­vi­sioned for use against a large num­ber of tar­gets, in­clud­ing cruise and bal­list­ic mis­siles, and war­ships.

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