The US Navy has developed an electromagnetic railgun capable of firing a 23 lb projectile at 7 times the speed of sound, while accurately hitting targets from over 100 miles away, and will begin sea trials for the weapon starting in 2016. Top Navy are calling the railgun "Star Wars" technology, and believe it will be a game-changer in the New Millenium's rapidly evolving field of military technology.
Rear Admiral Matthew Klunder, Chief of Naval Research recently led a round table discussion on developments regarding the electromagnetic railgun, revealing that the weapon of the future had already undergone extensive testing on land and would be mounted on the USNS Millinocket, a high-speed vessel, for its 2016 sea trials.
"It's now reality and it's not science fiction. It's actually real. You can look at it. It's firing," said Klunder
"It will help us in air defense, it will help us in cruise missile defense, it will help us in ballistic missile defense," he said. "We're also talking about a gun that's going to shoot a projectile that's about one one-hundredth of the cost of an existing missile system today."
The Rear Admiral intends to further discuss the weapon and its potential impact with military and industry leaders at a major maritime event - the Sea-Air-Space Exposition - near Washington, beginning this Monday. As for the aforementioned ground testing of the electromagnetic railgun, the US Navy has released video footage of the weapon blowing the holy living daylights out of a bunch of different targets, which you can watch here.
While most modern day weapons rely on chemical propellants (like gunpowder or fuel) to fire projectiles, the railgun utilizes electricity instead. According to the Office of Naval Research, the firing mechanism operates with the use of magnetic fields, created by high electrical currents that accelerate a sliding metal conductor, or armature, between two rails to launch projectiles at speeds of up to Mach 7.5. The electromagnetic energy used to fire the railgun's projectile is known as the Lorenz Force.
The Navy research chief pointed out the cost differential of munitions - $25,000 for a railgun projectile versus $500,000 to $1.5 million for a missile - would cause any potential adversary to think twice about the economic viability of engaging U.S. forces.
"That... will give our adversaries a huge moment of pause to go: 'Do I even want to go engage a naval ship?'" Klunder told reporters. "You could throw anything at us, frankly, and the fact that we now can shoot a number of these rounds at a very affordable cost, it's my opinion that they don't win."
In addition to the electromagnetic railgun, Rear Admiral Klunder has recently alluded to US Navy's successful testing of unmanned autonomous helicopter drones.