It can travel 5,400 mph, seven times the speed of sound, using speed rather than explosives to destroy its target. The weapon has been nicknamed the “Star Wars” gun by researchers because of the technology it uses, technology only seen in the world of science-fiction until now.
The Electromagnetic Railgun (EMRG) will be added to U.S. warships within two years.First proposed and initiated in 2005, the technology was part of a new program to push the boundaries of America's most advanced weapons systems.
The EMRG launcher is a long-range weapon that fires projectiles using electricity instead of chemical propellants like gun powder, according to the U.S. Navy Science & Technology Department. The use of electricity as opposed to chemicals will allow the projectile to travel at speeds up to 5,600 mph.
After electricity has been generated by the ship, an electric pulse is sent to the rail gun, creating an electromagnetic force which accelerates the projectile to Mach 7.5. The ability to travel at extreme speeds eliminates the use of high explosives, thereby eliminating the danger on ships and unexploded ordnance on land. The speeds will allow the Navy to conduct precise naval surface fire support or land strikes and increase ship defense, deterring the enemy.
“The railgun is a true warfighter game changer,” say officials of the Office of Naval Research. “Wide-area coverage, exceptionally quick response and very deep magazines will extend the reach and lethality of ships armed with this technology.”
Rear Admiral Matthew Klunder, head of U.S. Naval Research, told reporters that the EMRG has already undergone successful testing on land and will soon be mounted on the USNS Millinocket for sea trials in 2016.
The railgun has the ability to fire further than conventional guns and can maintain enough kinetic energy to inflict tremendous damage.
“It’s now a reality and it’s not science fiction,” Admiral Klunder said.