Naval Rail Gun Fires at 7 Mach

As I have posted in thepast, only the navy has the capacity to develop a rail gun and plausibly deployit.

Here they are setting newrecords.  I am unsure what use a line ofsight weapon will have.  We have so many othergreat ways to kill targets that are that close or that visible.  However, it certainly opens the door for eliminating incoming missiles.

In the event they areplaying with the toy and maybe it may be useful someday.

By Rebecca BoylePosted 12.10.2010 at 4:39 pm

Railgun Test U.S. Navy

The Navy just broke its own record foran awesomely powerful railgun,which can hurl a projectile hundreds of miles at superfast speeds without usingexplosives.

Today's 33-megajoule shot — powerful enough tolaunch 33 Smart cars at 100 mph — means the Navy can fire projectiles at least125 miles, keeping military personnel at a safe distance from their targets,according to the Office of Naval Research.

Rather than using an explosion to fire abullet, the futuristic weapon uses an electromagnetic current to accelerate aprojectile to March 7.5. The video pretty much says it all.

The eventual goal is a ship-mounted railgunthat can fire a projectile more than 200 miles at speeds of more than 8,000feet per second. A kinetic energy warhead would eliminate the use of hazardousexplosives on ships and on the battlefield, the Navy says.

Today’s test beats the Navy’s previous record,set in 2008. The old video is still pretty impressive.

Schematic diagram of a railgun
railgun is an entirely electrical gun thataccelerates a conductive projectile along a pair of metal rails using the sameprinciples as thehomopolar motor.Railguns use two sliding or rolling contacts[1] that permit a large electric current to pass through theprojectile. This current interacts with the strong magnetic fields generated by the railsand this accelerates the projectile.

The U.S. Navy has tested a railgun thataccelerates a 3.2 kg (7 pound) projectile to 2.4 kilometers per second(7,875 feet per second).[2] They gave the project the motto,"Velocitas Eradico" which they translate as "SpeedDestroys" but actually means "I am speed and I destroy".

Top gun: Navy's super sci-fi railgun declared most powerful on Earth

Onceexclusively within the world of classic science fiction novels—like Robert A.Heinlein's "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress"—the United States'Navy has brought the electronic railgun into the world of reality.

The technology for the railgun was first demonstrated in a MIT lab back in1964. Also known as a "mass driver" the concept was used as afuturistic weapon in many different stories including the famous Heinleinnovel.

TheOffice of Naval research demonstrated the power of the new weapon on December10, 2010 by firing at a target using an astounding energy pulse of 33 megajoulesto propel the projectile.

Megajoules are a unit of energy. One is about equal to the kinetic energystored within 1-ton traveling at 100 miles per hour.

The railgun tested is a newly upgraded version of the gun. Two years ago itonly managed abort a third of the current energy output.

Naval engineers stated that the super weapon was fired twice. The test tookplace at the Naval Surface WarfareCenter in Dahlgren, Virginia.

The very first shot obliterated the world's record for muzzle energy. After a5-minute power up of the tractor-trailer sized weapon, the first projectileexploded from the barrel generating a terrific force. The slug traveled 5,500feet and effectively destroyed the wooden target. The speed burned theatmosphere about it and left a fiery trail like a meteor.


During an interview with the Washington Post, railgunproject manager Roger Ellis explained that people "see these things in thevideo games, but this is real. This is what is very historical."

Unlike conventional guns, a railgun operates on a different set of physics. Itdoesn't depend on explosive propellants or charges. Instead the futuristicweapon relies on a mammoth surge of electrical energy to shoot a slug from thebarrel. According to naval engineers the projectile can reach speeds of Mach 8and obliterate objects as far away as 100 miles.

Each time it's fired the railgun's projectile breaks the sound barrier creatinga sonic boom that rolls across the countryside like ominous thunder.

Although the technology has been around for about half a century, until thelast decade it was considered impractical. The concept of a railgun seemed moresuited for use in space or on nearly airless planets or moons. The energyneeded to propel a projectile any distance in atmosphere as dense as Earths wasseen as unattainable.

Yet gradually the technology to generate fantastic amounts of energy burstsbecame available and once it was feasible the Navy began building experimentalmodels of the railgun.

The needfor speed

One advantage of a railgun is that no explosive warheads are used. The targetis not destroyed by a warhead, but rather the kinetic energy built up by thespeed and mass of the projectile.

This is same principle that's at play when a deep space object such as a largemeteor or asteroid impacts the surface of a planet with the force of manyhydrogen bombs detonating at once.

The Navy likes the fact that the weapon works without warheads. The need tocarry explosive munitions on board their ships is therefore reduced and so arethe odds of accidental detonations.

The Post reported that the chief of Naval Research, Rear Adm. Nevin P. CarrJr., expects the railgun to be tested on ships at sea before 2018 and deployedas a defensive weapon sometime after 2020. The ONR sees one use as a defenseagainst incoming cruise missiles.

Seeing that the Navy now has the fastest, most powerful gun in the world, theychose their project's Latin motto well: "velocitas eradico." 

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