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A Railgun Cannon. What’s Next Star Destroyers?

Posted in News,Science by Chris Weber on January 20th, 2007

Navy test railgun - a railgun demonstrated in stargate atlantisHow many games have you played that featured a railgun as a weapon? I’m guessing just a few under a thousand. From Halo to Stargate to the movie Eraser, railguns are just as much a part of the sci-fi genre as bad acting and large-chested blue aliens. Now however, railguns are no longer science fiction. They are a reality for the US Navy.

The Navy demonstrated its new toy at the Naval Surface Warfare Center. The weapon uses electromagnetism to propel non-explosive projectiles to high speeds. The new weapon should increase the range of US Navy vessels as well as decrease the cost. The railgun is expected to replace the expensive Tomahawk missile saving the Navy a lot of money. Because of the speed of the projectile launched from such a weapon, it might be a cheap and efficient way to shoot down incoming missiles.

“It’s pretty amazing capability, and it went off without a hitch,” said Capt. Joseph McGettigan, commander of NSWC Dahlgren Division. He continued, “The biggest thing is it’s real–not just something on the drawing board.”

According to Wikepedia, “A Railgun is a type of Magnetic Accelerator Gun (MAG) that utilises an electromagnetic force to propel an electrically conductive projectile that is initially part of the current path.”

Don’t look for a hand-held model anytime soon. The full version, meant for Navy destroyers, will require an enormous amount of electrical energy to fire. The next generation of Navy destroyers are built to be all electrical, allowing for energy to be diverted from the engines to the railgun as needed. The gun would be able to fire a 40 pound projectile up to 6 times a minute. The projectile would actually leave earths orbit and reenter under satellite guidance. The force of the impact would destroy targets with no chemical explosive needed.

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