A 2017 photo of the Office of Naval Research's Electromagnetic Railgun on a range at Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division.

A 2017 photo of the Office of Naval Research's Electromagnetic Railgun on a range at Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division. U.S. Navy / John F. Williams

Defense Business Brief: Why Navy is killing its railgun; HASC to markup in Sept.; GBSD to fly in 2023; and more...

The Navy plans to abandon its electromagnetic railgun, citing unsolved technological hurdles. 

The service lacks a good way to store the energy to fire the gun and a barrel that can handle the strain, Vice Adm. Jim Kilby, deputy chief of naval operations for warfighting requirements and capabilities, told the House Armed Services seapower and projection forces subcommittee on Thursday.

“We have worked mightily since 2005 to bring the railgun to fruition,” Kilby said. “So far, it has not proved to be what we want to continue to invest in. There’s a challenge technologically there. It certainly has great promise, if we could close the fire control loop in a meaningful way and use it as an anti-ship missile defense piece. That’s complex right now and we don’t believe there’s a path to do that now.”

The concept of an electromagnetic railgun is “very virtuous” because it would allow a ship to use traditional missiles for offense and the railgun for defensive measures, he said.

Our friends at The Drive noted that the Navy requested no funds for the project in the 2022 budget request sent to Congress last month. 

A five-year truce has been called in a 17-year trade war between Airbus and Boeing over alleged state subsidies. Both companies and their surrogates fired the accusations when Boeing and Airbus competed to build a new Air Force aerial refueling tanker. The two companies are set to compete once again to build up to 160 new tankers.

The House Armed Services Committee won’t mark up the defense authorization bill until September, panel Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., the panel chairman, announced this week. Subcommittees will mark up the 2022 bill in late July, but the full committee won’t conduct its marathon markup session until Sept. 1. Remember, the Biden administration didn’t send Congress its budget proposal until late May.

The new Air Force intercontinental ballistic missile, the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent,  being built by Northrop Grumman, is expected to fly its first test launch by the end of 2023 at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California, the project’s program manager said during an Air Force Association conference. The missile is already “flying the design” virtually in computer simulations, Col. Jason Bartolomei said.

Drone-maker AeroVironment has moved its company headquarters from Silicon Valley to Arlington, Virginia. “The greater Washington, D.C., area is where many of our key customers are located, and expanding our presence in the region will further our access to decision makers, influencers and talent,” said Wahid Nawabi, the company’s president and CEO. AeroVironment  joins FLIR and Boeing Defense who have moved corporate leaders closer to the Pentagon and other key decision makers.

Weekend reading: A new RAND report found the Air Force “currently lacks a consistent, quantitative, empirically grounded method of assessing the value that the service's airborne ISR provides—which is essential to good resourcing decisions.” Read it here.

Making Moves

  • Huntington Ingalls Industries has named Ashutosh Gokhale vice president of business management and CFO for its Technical Solutions division, effective July 9. He will replace Billy Jahn, who is retiring.  
  • Fincantieri Marinette Marine has named Mark Vandroff CEO, effective July 7. He replaced Jan Allman, who has led the Wisconsin shipyard since 2014. Alllman has been named senior vice president for public affairs and community relations for Fincantieri Marine Group.

From Defense One

Air Force Begins Search For New Refueling Tanker as Lawmakers Push Airbus // Marcus Weisgerber

Some lawmakers want the Air Force to terminate its KC-46 contract with Boeing.

US Will Try Using Lasers to Send Data From Space to Drones // Patrick Tucker

In the first experiment of its kind, military researchers will attempt to link drones to satellites via light.

South Korea to Add Robots-on-Rails and AI Surveillance to DMZ Border // Aaron Boyd

The demilitarized zone between North and South Korea will be getting new surveillance technologies in the coming months, Korean news outlets report.

Give Lasers Back to the Missile Defense Agency, Lawmaker Says // Marcus Weisgerber

Rep. Langevin slams Trump-administration decision to defund MDA research.

Russia, US Will Launch Arms Control Talks To Avoid 'Accidental War' // Jacqueline Feldscher

The agreement reached during the summit between President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin is "a positive first step," according to one analyst.

The New Pentagon Slush Fund // Andrew Lautz and Mandy Smithberger

Congress should reject the Pacific Deterrence Initiative before it's too late.

Lawmakers Blast Acting Navy Secretary's Defunding of Naval Nuclear Cruise Missile // Caitlin M. Kenney

Harker confirmed that he did not consult with Pentagon or military leaders on the planned nuclear missile.

How the U.S. Can Beat the Semiconductor Shortage (and China) // Evelyn N. Farkas

We must reverse our reliance on foreign manufacturing and build a better microelectronic systems industrial base.

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