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Gerhard Heiming

The European Defence Agency (EDA) has launched a disruptive research project for an Electro-Magnetic Railgun (EMRG), commissioning the Projectiles for Increased Long-range effects Using Electromagnetic Railgun (PILUM) consortium. Consisting of nine partners from five European countries, it is coordinated by the German-French Research Institute Saint-Louis (ISL) and over a two-year study period, the consortium is to demonstrate that this type of EMRG concept is capable of delivering hypervelocity projectiles to the target with precision over a distance of several hundred kilometres. The aim of this disruptive approach is to demonstrate that the new EMRG technology is capable of achieving a hypersonic velocity, compared to the previous powder railgun.

High velocity

The EMRG is capable of accelerating projectiles at initial velocities far in excess of those achieved with existing weapons, using electromagnetic force by injecting very high currents into conductor rails while the project will also examine the possibility of integrating EMRGs into land and naval platforms. In the first phase, the gun concept will be validated by means of numerical simulations and experimental work, an important step towards the development of a large-scale demonstrator in the coming years. The high-tech project will also enable advances in many different areas of superior technology, including aerothermodynamics, projectile technologies, material strength, energy storage and conversion in addition to various electrical and electromagnetic phenomena, which should be useful for further applications.

The “PILUM” project is part of the “Preparatory Action on Defence Research” (PADR) research programme which is funded by the European Commission and managed by the EDA.

Besides the ISL, the following partners are involved in the project:

  • Von Karman Research Institute (Belgium), specialised in fluid dynamics and propulsion
  • the system integrators Naval Group and Nexter Systems (France)
  • the ammunition suppliers Diehl Defence (Germany) and Nexter Munitions (France)
  • Explomet (Poland), specialised in the explosive coating of metals
  • ICAR (Italy), manufacturer of high-density electrical capacitors
  • Erdyn Consultants (France) for the management of European cooperation projects