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Published on Mar 13, 2012
In the world of ordnance system development the need for system and subsystem testing under dynamic conditions is obvious. A number of approaches have been used by various agencies throughout the years. Rocket sleds. Powder guns. Compressed gas guns. Although each approach has its advantages and disadvantages, it is the disadvantages of traditional approaches that led to the creation of the Variable Energy Research Accelerator (VERA). Rocket sleds are often too expensive for small programs to afford. In addition to challenging packaging issues, traditional guns present a violent acceleration profile that can damage test hardware. Further, modifying their barrels for custom test requirements is often dangerous at best. The designer of VERA endeavored to create a cost effective system to deliver useful payloads to useful velocities while subjecting payloads to acceleration forces significantly lower than those associated with typical gun systems while allowing for quick and easy system level modification for unique test requirements. The result of this effort is VERA.
VERA is a low cost, low acceleration, low pressure, compressed charge combustion gun featuring a 40 foot (12.2 m) barrel and a 19 inch (483 mm) bore. VERA was designed to minimize payload acceleration forces, accommodate large and/or oddly shaped projectiles, and allow for in-barrel instrumentation and control of energetic or inert payloads.
And yes, VERA, can best be described as a "potato gun on steroids."