When Did the U.S. Navy Conduct a High-Speed Railgun Test?


Quick Answer

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.

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When Did the U.S. Navy Conduct a High-Speed Railgun Test?
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Full Answer

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.

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