This could change things significantly and has all sorts of useful applications. It would seem to go without saying that they're not going to be "less than lethal," but that's kind of the point. 28 pounds and 50,000 rounds with minimal acoustic signature? Sounds like a winner - if this thing actually works. The fact that it basically fires golf balls should make the air force very happy also.
By David Crane
Imagine a gun with no recoil, no sound, no heat, no gunpowder, no visible firing signature (muzzle flash), and no stoppages or jams of any kind. Now imagine that this gun could fire .308 caliber and .50 caliber metal projectiles accurately at up to 8,000 fps (feet-per-second), featured an infinitely variable/programmable cyclic rate-of-fire (as high as 120,000 rounds-per-minute), and were capable of laying down a 360-degree field of fire. What if you could mount this weapon on any military Humvee (HMMWV), any helicopter/gunship, any armored personnel carrier (APC), and any other vehicle for which the technology were applicable?
That would really be something, wouldn't it? Some of you might be wondering, "how big would it be," or "how much would it weigh"? Others might want to know what it's ammunition capacity would be. These are all good questions, assuming of course that a weapon like this were actually possible.
According to its inventor, not only is it possible, it's already happened. An updated version of the weapon will be available soon. It will arrive in the form of a tactically-configured pre-production anti-personnel weapon firing .308 caliber projectiles (accurately) at 2,500-3000 fps, at a variable/programmable cyclic rate of 5,000-120,000 rpm (rounds-per-minute). The weapon's designer/inventor has informed DefRev that future versions of the weapon will be capable of achieving projectile velocities in the 5,000-8,000 fps range with no difficulty. The technology already exists.
The weapon itself is called the DREAD, or Multiple Projectile Delivery System (MPDS), and it may just be the most revolutionary infantry weapon system concept that DefenseReview has EVER come across.
The DREAD Weapon System is the brainchild of weapons designer/inventor Charles St. George. It will be 40 inches long, 32 inches wide, and 3 inches high (20 inches high with the pintel swivel mount). It will be comprised of only 30 component parts, and will have an empty weight of only 28 pounds. That's right, 28 pounds. The weapon will be capable of rotating 360 degrees and enjoy the same elevation and declination capabilities of any conventional vehicle-mounted gun/weapon.
The first generation DREAD (production version), derived from the tactically-configured pre-production weapon, will most likely be a ground vehicle-mounted anti-personnel weapon. Military Humvees (HMMV's) and other ground vehicles (including Chevy Suburbans) equipped with the DREAD will enjoy magazine capacities of at least 50,000 rounds of .308 Cal., or 10,000 rounds of .50 Cal. ammo.
But, what is the DREAD, really? How does it work? In a sentence, the DREAD is an electrically-powered centrifuge weapon, or centrifuge "gun." So, instead of using self-contained cartridges containing powdered propellant (gunpowder), the DREAD's ammunition will be .308 and .50 caliber round metal balls (steel, tungsten, tungsten carbide, ceramic-coated tungsten, etc...) that will be literally spun out of the weapon at speeds as high as 8000 fps (give or take a few hundred feet-per-second) at rather extreme rpm's, striking their targets with overwhelming and devastating firepower. We're talking about total target saturation, here. All this, of course, makes the DREAD revolutionary in the literal sense, as well as the conceptual one.
According to the DREAD Advantages Sheet, "unlike conventional weapons that deliver a bullet to the target in intervals of about 180 feet, the DREAD's rounds will arrive only 30 thousandths of an inch apart (1/32nd of an inch apart), thereby presenting substantially more mass to the target in much less time than previously possible." This mass can be delivered to the target in 10-round bursts, or the DREAD can be programmed to deliver as many rounds as you want, per trigger-pull. Of course, the operator can just as easily set the DREAD to fire on full-auto, with no burst limiter. On that setting, the number of projectiles sent down range per trigger-pull will rely on the operator's trigger control. Even then, every round is still going right into the target. You see, the DREAD's not just accurate, it's also recoilless. No recoil. None. So, every "fired" round is going right where you aim it.
One of the ammunition types the DREAD will be delivering downrange is the "Collision Cluster Round," or "CCR," that will be used to penetrate hard targets. The Collision Cluster Round (CCR) is explained in more detail on the munitions page of the DREAD Technology White Paper (links below). The DREAD Advantages Sheet also lists all the other advantages that the DREAD Weapon System enjoys over conventional firearms.
And, all this from a weapon that doesn't jam. Remember how at the beginning of the article I wrote "no stoppages or jams"? The DREAD won't jam because, according to its inventor, it can't jam. The DREAD's operating and feeding mechanisms simply don't allow for stoppages or jams to occur. It thus follows that the DREAD Centrifuge Weapon will be the most reliable metallic projectile launcher/ballistic device on the planet. DefRev is not at liberty to publish exactly why the DREAD can't jam, since Mr. St. George hasn't given us permission to describe the gun's operating and feeding mechanisms in any detail.
The only thing the DREAD's operator will really have to worry about is running out of ammo, which isn't likely. Any reasonably skilled gunner (Humvee, APC, Apache attack helicopter, etc.-- doesn't matter) should be able to avoid running through all 50,000 (or more) rounds of .308 Cal. or 10,000 (or more) rounds of .50 Cal. ammo prematurely, especially when he or she can dial down the DREAD's cyclic rate to 5,000 rpm or slower, if necesssary. Even if it becomes necessary to increase the DREAD's magazine capacity to upwards of 100,000 rounds (.308 Cal.) or 20,0000 rounds (.50 Cal.), and run the weapon all day and all night for weeks on end, this will have absolutely no effect whatsoever (positive or negative) on the reliability or durability of the weapon system. The DREAD is both heatless and frictionless, and doesn't generate any high pressures. So, there's virtually no wear and tear on the system, no matter how many rounds are fired through it back-to-back, even if it's run constantly on full-auto at 120,000 rpm, the whole time.
Here's the kicker: because it's electrically powered and doesn't use any powdered propellant for it's operation, the DREAD Centrifuge Weapon is virtually silent (no sound signature), except for the supersonic "crack" of the metal balls breaking the sound barrier when they're launched. This makes the direction that the rounds are coming from, and their point of origin (firing source), very difficult for enemy forces to identify. It also allows the operator to communicate easily with his team, or with his command structure, while he's still firing on the enemy (with the DREAD). With the DREAD, he won't have to fight to communicate over his own weapon's firing report. And, since the gun doesn't generate any muzzle flash or heat (it's heatless and frictionless, remember?), it doesn't produce any flash signature or heat signature. So, identifying the gun itself with IR (infrared) sensors will be impossible. The vehicle that the DREAD is mounted on is the only thing that will display a heat signature. That leaves you with a difficult-to-detect/locate weapon with a virtually endless suppy of ammo. Even if the DREAD-equipped vehicle does get identified and fired upon by the enemy, the risk of a catastrophic explosion from a bullet strike on the ammunition supply is zero, because the DREAD's ammunition doesn't contain any propellant. There's no gunpowder onboard to blow up. That just leaves the gas tank (vehicle's). Nothing's foolproof.
There's more. Since the DREAD/MPDS (Multiple Projectile Delivery System) is a centrifuge weapon, projectile velocity can be adjusted instantly back and forth between lethal and less-lethal/non-lethal modes. This means it can be utilized just as effectively for embassy security and peacekeeping roles. As an embassy security weapon, the less-lethal/non lethal mode would most likely be the way to go, in most cases. Less-lethal is usually adequate for any crowd control or riot control situations. However, let's say the crowd starts storming the gates, and now presents a lethal threat to the occupants inside. Well, just pull your Marines inside, switch your remotely-operated battery of DREAD's on over to lethal mode, and make survival above ground impossible for anyone outside the embassy. No one gets in. Same thing goes for military base security. Remote DREAD Centrifuge Gun Pods can be outfitted with heat and motion sensors, and left in unmanned areas. These remote pods can be either human-operated, or pre-programmed with both less-lethal/non-lethal and lethal protocols that will function automatically and not even require human operation. Mobile robotic platforms, including remote-controlled Unmanned Ground Combat Vehicles (UGCV's), could also be outfitted with DREAD systems. And, the list goes on. The technology application possibilities/potential uses are virtually endless.
So, what's the upshot? It's DefenseReview's opinion that, if the DREAD Weapon System works as advertised, it will have a profound impact on U.S. infantry warfare capabilities. It has the potential to literally change the way we fight on the ground, and perhaps even in the air. No question, it will revolutionize both ground and air vehicular armament and firepower capabilities. The DREAD will have a similarly profound impact on U.S. embassy security and military base perimeter security capabilities. This paradigm shift in firepower isn't limited to the ground and air, either. The DREAD's complete lack of recoil will allow it to be fired from space-based platforms, i.e. satellites, without knocking them off of their respective orbital paths. Zero recoil, plus 8,000 fps projectile speeds, 5,000-120,000 rpm capability, and huge on-board ammunition supplies, equals a viable and relatively inexpensive option for satellite defense (and enemy-satellite neutralization), and possibly even a fast-realizable armament solution/alternative for a U.S. Space-based defense network.
Leader Propulsion Systems (LPS) just informed DefRev that it has signed up with a large U.S. "defense entity" (i.e., a large U.S. defense contractor) to fully develop the DREAD technology for both lethal and less-lethal applications. This strategic partnership will also enable Leader to begin developing a family of gas-operated lightweight weapons chambered in .50 BMG (12.7x99mm), .338 Lapua, .300 Winchester Magnum and 7.62x51mm Nato (.308 Win.). According to Leader, this new development program will result in a family of weapons that will utilize, according to the company, a "revolutionary" and proprietary recoil attenuation/mitigation system. This system will also be used in a man-portable 25mm lightweight weapon system that LPS will also be developing. Defense Review is not currently at liberty to disclose any additional information on the DREAD development program to our readers. However, once we are, we'll inform our readers immediately, and continue to do so regarding any new significant developments, so stay tuned.
About the Author: David Crane is a military defense industry analyst and consultant, and the owner/editor-in-chief of DefenseReview.com. He can be contacted by phone at 305-389-1721, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
DREAD: The Skinny
DREAD Weapon System
Type of Equipment:
Multiple Projectile Delivery System
* Fires .308 caliber and .50 caliber metal projectiles accurately at up to 8,000 fps (feet-per-second)
* Features an infinitely variable/programmable cyclic rate-of-fire (as high as 120,000 rounds-per-minute)
* Electrically powered and virtually silent
* Capable of laying down a 360-degree field of fire
* Mountable on any military vehicles, includes humvees and helicopters
* Weighs only 28 pounds
* Magazine capacities of at least 50,000 rounds of .308 Cal., or 10,000 rounds of .50 Cal. ammo