The United States Navy tested the first industry produced electromagnetic railgun in February 2012 at the Navy Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division. The tests were part of a program to replace the standard guns on sea vessels with an advanced, accurate weapon that works more efficiently. The railgun uses an electromagnetic pulse to propel a projectile at speeds exceeding Mach 7.Continue Reading
Electromagnetic railguns are an improvement because they have increased accuracy, can travel 100 miles at supersonic speeds and have a significantly lower price tag than missiles.
The gun works when electric fields move an armature between two conductive rails to launch a projectile. The system eliminates the limitations of the current weapons used by warships and costs a fraction of the price of a missile that has the same capabilities. A railgun costs $25,000 compared to the $1.5 million cost of some missiles.
The 2012 tests were a success, signifying a step forward in the development of the gun. BAE Systems, a private weapons firm, built the first prototype that goes beyond the previous trials and towards the implementation phase of the Navy's plan.
The 32-megajoule demonstrator replaced the laboratory model that the Navy previously used for testing. Its firing power is significant; one megajoule is equivalent to a 1 ton car being propelled at 100 mph.Learn more about Military