08 Aug 2017

US Navy’s electromagnetic railgun ready for operational demonstrations

The Office of Naval Research has announced that the Navy’s electromagnetic railgun is ready for field demonstrations.

Initial rep-rate fires (repetition rate of fires) of multi-shot salvos already have been successfully conducted at low muzzle energy. The next test sequence requires safely increasing launch energy, firing rates and salvo size.

Instead of using traditional gunpowder or other chemical propellants, the revolutionary railgun relies on a massive electrical pulse to launch projectiles at distances over 100 nautical miles—and at speeds that exceed Mach 6, or six times the speed of sound. That velocity allows projectiles to rely on kinetic energy for maximum effect, and reduces the amount of high explosives needed on ships.

The demonstrations will be carried out at the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division’s new railgun Rep-Rate Test Site at Terminal Range.

Dr. Thomas Beutner, Head of ONR’s Naval Air Warfare and Weapons Department, said: “Railguns and other directed-energy weapons are the future of maritime superiority. The U.S. Navy must be the first to field this leap-ahead technology and maintain the advantage over our adversaries.

“The railgun will be an effective deterrent against growing and increasingly complex threats,” said Beutner. “Its power level surpasses traditional gun technology, and it reduces explosive ship-board risks to Sailors and Marines at sea.” 

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