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Old 04-29-2003, 12:27 PM
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Default Marines Seek Electromagnetic Gun For The MEFFV Family Of Vehicles Marines Seek Electromagnetic Gun For The MEFFV Family Of Vehicles
By Nick Jonson

The U.S. Marine Corps wants an electromagnetic gun for its new family of Marine Expeditionary Family of Fighting Vehicles (MEFFVs), the MEFFV program manager said April 28.

Development of the gun will draw upon the Army's research into electromagnetic guns, said Col. Dennis Beal.

Beal said the Marine Corps looked at a variety of options before choosing to pursue an electromagnetic gun. Those options included developing a directed energy weapon, using a conventional gun and developing an electro-thermal chemical gun.

After studying the options, the service decided to go with an electromagnetic gun because its ammunition was more effective against today's explosive reactive armor (ERA), Beal said during the Light Armored Vehicles conference in Washington, organized by the Institute for Defense and Government Advancement (IDGA).

"We have found ERA throughout the world, so you can put ERA, if you have the proper power source, on a pickup truck," Beal said. "It doesn't have to be on a tank."

Moreover, because the inert EM rounds are 1/6 the volume and 1/5 the weight of the standard M29A2 tank round, more can be carried aboard M1 Abrams tanks and 5-ton supply trucks, he said.

The EM round also is cheaper than standard tank rounds, he said. Each EM round is estimated to cost between $400-$500, as compared with about $5,800 per M29A2 round.

Plans call for developing the gun first and later reducing its size to fit aboard an existing M1 Abrams tank, Beal said. The gun would be scaled down even further at a later time to fit aboard the heavier, 30-ton variant of the MEFFV family.

The gun works by drawing on the magnetic force in its rails, which interacts with a current in the armature to generate a propulsive force capable of launching projectiles.

The Marine Corps hopes to receive proposals from industry next year to develop the gun, Beal said. The system development and demonstration (SDD) phase is expected to last from 2004 to 2008.

Following the SDD phase, an integration study would be conducted in 2009 to see if the gun could be scaled down to fit on an Abrams tank. The actual scaling down would occur between 2012 and 2015, Beal said.

"If I can't this thing down to get it into a big platform this size, I'm never going to get it into one half that size," he said, referring to the 30-ton MEFFV variant.

The MEFFV family of vehicles will weigh 10-30 tons. A lighter variant will probably be wheeled and used for medical, mortar, air defense and reconnaissance missions, Beal said.

The heavier variant, with a target weight of 30 tons, probably will be tracked and used for assault, logistics and fire support missions, he said.

The Marine Corps is hoping to incorporate a vehicle integrated defense suite (VIDS), advanced weapons, lightweight composites, sensor/data fusion and advanced propulsion technologies in the vehicles.

Propulsion technologies being examined include fuel cells, high-efficiency engines and hybrid-electric drive, he said.

Technologies being examined to improve survivability include aluminum/ceramic alloys, synthesized metals, frequency-selective surface compounds and ballistic integrity capable of withstanding impacts from 105mm rounds, Beal said.

Developing a material that is thermally reductive, capable of containing embedded sensors as well as being ballistically sound and frequency selective "was a tall order," Beal said.

The Marine Corps should know in about three years when trade studies show which capabilities could be implemented starting in about 2012.

The Marine Corps is currently drafting an operational requirements document for the MEFFV vehicles, Beal said. The goal is to begin fielding the MEFFV vehicles in 2020.
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