The Kalyani group has recently entered the defense sector manufacturing and is moving from being a components manufacturer to a complete product maker. After making artillery guns, this Indian private sector company is now planning to make “Electromagnetic Rail Gun”.
The electromagnetic rail gun is the future of the artillery system. Bharat Forge (A Kalyani group company) currently makes four artillery guns:
- Bharat 52 – The towed artillery gun (155mm x 52 Calibre).
- The towed artillery gun (155mm x 52 Calibre)
- MArG – Ultra Light Howitzer (155mm X 39 Calibre)
- Truck-mounted – MarG
Along with these Bharat forge also makes components for OFB Dhanush and DRDO ATAGS.
What is Rail Gun?
An electromagnetic railgun is a linear motor device that can be used as a weapon, which uses electromagnetic force to launch a very high-speed projectile. These projectiles normally do not contain explosives, which makes the storage and transportation of projectile easy and cheaper. These guns instead relying on the projectile’s high speed, mass, and kinetic energy to inflict damage.
The railgun uses a pair of parallel conductors (rails), along which a sliding armature is accelerated by the electromagnetic effects of a current that flows down one rail, into the armature, and then back along the other rail.
A railgun requires a pulsed DC power supply. For potential military applications, railguns are usually of interest because they can achieve much greater muzzle velocities than guns powered by conventional chemical propellants. Increased muzzle velocities with better aerodynamically streamlined projectiles can convey the benefits of increased firing ranges while, in terms of target effects, increased terminal velocities can allow the use of kinetic energy rounds incorporating hit-to-kill guidance, as replacements for explosive shells. Therefore, typical military railgun designs aim for muzzle velocities in the range of 2,000–3,500 m/s (4,500–7,800 mph; 7,200–12,600 km/h; 5-10 Mach) with muzzle energies of 5–50 megajoules (MJ).
Kalyani Group’s Rail Gun: The design of the 1st prototype of the Kalyani Electromagnetic rail gun has been completed. Currently, the company is refining the design further before constructing the prototype. The design phase of this system started in 2018 and the technology absorption and designing phase is now complete.
The company is working along with a US giant general atomics, Bharat Forge tied up with General Atomics’ Electromagnetic Systems Group (GA-EMS) to develop/integrate power generation, storage, control& distribution tech for naval platforms, & advanced projectiles for Indian weapon system platforms in defense expo 2020.
DRDO Rail Gun: Indian Defense scientists have successfully developed electromagnetic railguns (EMRG) that can fire projectiles at Mach 6 (six times the speed of sound) or 4,600 miles per hour. The DRDO EMRG is 12 MM bore EMRG. The prototype of the gun was tested in 2017 and now the DPSU is working on a system that can fire a 30 MM Square bore projectile. This projectile will be 1KG in weight and will be capable of attaining a velocity of 2,000 M/S.
The speed envisioned is 6 Mach and to launch a one KG projectile the energy requirement will be 10 megajoules. Though energy requirement is in impulses thus it can be powered by capacitors and the time taken by this capacitor to get charged will be the deciding factor that will dictate the rate of fire.
If a resistor is connected in series with the capacitor forming an RC circuit, the capacitor will charge up gradually through the resistor until the voltage across it reaches that of the supply voltage. The time required for the capacitor to be fully charge is equivalent to about 5-time constants or 5T. The value of “T” Constant can be calculated using the formulae
T = R x C
where R is the value of the resistor in ohms and C is the value of the capacitor in Farads.
Challenges with rail gun:
In theory, rail guns are the perfect solution for short- and long-range firepower. They present several serious problems:
- Power supply: Generating the power necessary to accelerate rail gun projectiles is a real challenge. Capacitors must store electric charge until a sufficiently large current can be accumulated. While capacitors can be small for some applications, the capacitors found in rail guns are many cubic meters in size.
- Resistive heating: When an electric current passes through a conductor, it meets resistance in the conductive material — in this case, the rails. The current excites the rail’s molecules, causing them to heat. In rail guns, this effect results in intense heat.
- Melting: The high velocity of the armature and the heat caused by resistive heating damages the surface of the rails.
- Repulsion: The current in each rail of a rail gun runs in opposite directions. This creates a repulsive force, proportional to the current, that attempts to push the rails apart. Because the currents in a rail gun are so large, the repulsion between the two rails is significant. Wear and tear on rail guns are a serious problem. Many breaks after a few uses, and sometimes they can only be used once.
Though the construction and operation of rail guns are challenging the potential of this technology is enormous. Therefore, most of the world powers are working towards achieving this technology and since the Kalyani group has forayed into artillery systems, the electromagnetic rail gun is a natural way forward.