Electronic Weapons: Better Killing With Electricity

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August 10, 2007: The navy is building its next generation of warships, mainly the CVN21 carriers and Zumwalt class destroyer, with much larger electrical generation capacity. This is in preparation for new weapons and equipment that are electrically powered. But items like rail guns, electromagnetic catapults, laser and microwave weapons, and electromagnetic armor (Dynamic Armor Protection System, or DAPS), require far more electricity than generators on these new ships can provide. All-electric propulsion systems are century old technology, and still quite useful. But the electrically powered weapons and protection systems have to be refined so they draw less power, before they become viable. This is expected to take a decade, or more. This is frustrating for warship designers, because these new weapons and devices have been shown to work in the lab, but require unavailable amounts of electricity when installed on warships.

 


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