The U.S. Navy has pulled the plug on research on a futuristic weapon that fires projectiles at up to seven times the speed of sound using electricityBy DAVID SHARP Associated PressJuly 1, 2021, 8:33 PM• 3 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleBATH, Maine — The U.S. Navy pulled the plug, for now, on a futuristic weapon that fires projectiles at up to seven times the speed of sound using electricity.The Navy spent more than a decade developing the electromagnetic railgun and once considered putting them on the stealthy new Zumwalt-class destroyers built at Maine’s Bath Iron Works.But the Defense Department is turning its attention to hypersonic missiles to keep up with China and Russia, and the Navy cut funding for railgun research from its latest budget proposal.“The railgun is, for the moment, dead,” said Matthew Caris, a defense analyst at Avascent Group, a consulting firm.The removal of funding suggests the Navy saw both challenges in implementing the technology as well as shortcomings in the projectiles’ range compared to hypersonic missiles, he said.The Navy’s decision to pause research at year’s end frees up resources for hypersonic missiles, directed-energy systems like lasers and electronic warfare systems, said Lt. Courtney Callaghan, a Navy spokesperson.Information gleaned during testing will be retained in the event the Office of Naval Research wants to pick up where it left off in the future, she said.All told, the Navy spent about $500 million on research and development, according to Bryan Clark, an analyst at the Hudson Institute.The technology was close to making the leap from science fiction to reality in the 21st century with the testing of prototypes.The concept held the possibility of providing an effective weapon at pennies on the dollars compared to smart bombs and missiles.That’s because railguns use electricity instead of gunpowder, or jet or rocket engines, to accelerate a projectile at six or seven times the speed of sound. That creates enough kinetic energy to destroy targets.But there were a number of problems. Those included the range of about 110 miles in testing. A Navy vessel could not employ the gun without putting itself within range of a barrage of enemy missiles. And its usefulness for missile defense was also limited by range and rate of fire, Clark said.The idea dates back to the 1940s. But there have always been major hurdles because the parallel rails, or conductors, are subjected to massive electric current and magnetic forces that can cause damage after a few shots, said defense analyst Norman Friedman.A big question was always whether the gun could stay together during continuous firing, Friedman said.A normal gun can be fired about 600 times before the barrel has to be refurbished, but the barrel on the railgun prototype had to be replaced after about a dozen or two dozen shots were fired, Clark said.A few years ago, the Navy was talking about putting the gun on the future USS Lyndon B. Johnson, the last of three stealthy destroyers. It’s nearing completion and builder trials at Bath Iron Works.The 600-foot-long (180-meter-long) warship uses marine turbines similar to those that propel the Boeing 777 to help produce up to 78 megawatts of electricity for use in propulsion, weapons and sensors.That’s more than enough electricity for the railgun, and the ship has space following the cancellation of the advanced gun system, leaving the ship with no conventional cannon-based weapon.Instead, the Navy is pursuing an offshoot of the railgun, a hypervelocity projectile, that can be fired from existing gun systems.
The estate of pop artist Robert Indiana has reached a settlement that keeps intact a longstanding relationship with the copyright holder of the iconic “LOVE” seriesBy DAVID SHARP Associated PressJune 11, 2021, 8:02 PM• 3 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articlePORTLAND, Maine — The estate of pop artist Robert Indiana has reached a settlement that keeps intact a longstanding relationship with Morgan Art Foundation, which holds the copyright for his iconic 1960s “LOVE” series, to promote and preserve his work, officials said Friday.New York-based Morgan Art Foundation intends to work with the Maine-based Star of Hope Foundation, which aims to transform Indiana’s island home into a museum to celebrate his work.While the museum takes shape, the two organizations will work to display Indiana’s artwork at venues around the country.“We’ve done a lot of good stuff, but it’s overshadowed by the litigation,” said Larry Sterrs, chair of the Star of Hope Foundation. Completion of the museum is likely years away, he said.Indiana’s estate, which is valued at upward of $80 million, had been entangled in a lawsuit brought by Morgan Art Foundation. The lawsuit was filed the day before Indiana’s death on May 19, 2018, at age 89 on Vinalhaven Island, 15 miles (25 kilometers) off Rockland, Maine.It accused the reclusive artist’s caretaker and an art publisher of taking advantage of Indiana and producing forgeries — accusations the pair denied. That led to more claims and counter claims.Under the agreement, Morgan dropped its lawsuit against the estate and Indiana’s caretaker but not against the art publisher.It also doesn’t resolve a case brought by Maine’s attorney general, who claims the estate paid excessive legal fees during litigation. That lawsuit contends $3.7 million paid to four law firms and about $400,000 collected by the estate’s personal representative were excessive.Indiana created a lifetime of art but he’s best known for LOVE, spelled with two letters to a line and with a tilted “O.”It’s been transformed into sculptures around the world, and was featured on a U.S. postage stamp.The goal is display such artwork in a home museum that’s going to be created at Indiana’s former residence in a converted Odd Fellows Hall, a Victorian-style building, on Vinalhaven. Indiana also had several other properties that could be utilized for the art museum, art education and artist-in-residency programs, Sterrs said.In the meantime, though, Morgan Art Foundation and the Star of Hope Foundation will work together to get the artwork in front of people at venues around the world, Sterrs said. Most of the estate’s $80 million worth cited in court documents comes from the art collection.“The future is bright for the market and legacy of Robert Indiana, and the estate is pleased to have helped create this success,” said James Brannan, a Rockland attorney for the estate.