After decades of research and development, The Office of Naval Research released video showing a rather impressive site — the Navy’s electromagnetic railgun boasting a firing rate of an estimated 4.8 shells a minute! While it was done at below full power testing is set to ramp up to 20 megajoules by the of this summer and 32 megajoules next year some time. Remember that one megajoule is the equivalent of a one-ton truck moving 160 miles per hour.
The railgun which is something out of a sci-fi movie relies on an electrical pulse to send a 23-pound projectile up to 100 miles away at speeds over Mach 6. The best part about the whole thing is that the projectiles don’t have explosives. This also ends the need for storing gunpowder or other dangerous chemical propellants aboard ships. This would, in turn, free up space tremendously allowing more projectiles to be stored which are less dangerous than current projectiles. “Reducing explosive loads aboard ship — no gun powder, rockets or high explosives — also makes the ship less susceptible to catastrophic battle damage,” said Tom Boucher, system’s program engineer.
Does this mean our taxes will go down whenever they decide to launch this into action? Wishful thinking but I’m sure the answer is no. With a price tag of about $25000 USD per projectile compared to the millions, it takes to produce a single rocket you can’t help but wonder. We all know that if the rail gun made it out to the fleet that the Navy would use every bit of its budget from the cut back on standard missiles. For example, the Tomahawk cruise missile sets the Navy back $1.87 million. That’s a lot of rail gun projectiles.
Especially now that the rail gun is small enough to fit onto current and future Naval Vessels. It isn’t all attack, of course, the Navy is making sure it has defense capabilities as well. The idea is to be able to use the rail gun for surface fire support, anti-air, and anti-surface. This would allow for next level warfare. Could this be the next big thing on already impressive Navy vessels? I guess we will find out. For now, we will just have to wait eagerly in anticipation for the day that the rail gun actually makes it onto a navy vessel for full blown active service.
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