The U.S. Navy is planning sea trials for a weapon that can fire a low-cost, 23-pound (10-kg) projectile at seven times the speed of sound using electromagnetic energy, a "Star Wars" technology that will make enemies think twice, the Navy's research chief said.The video gives you a feel for what it can do and why it is so different from conventional naval guns.
Rear Admiral Matthew Klunder, the chief of Naval Research, told a round table group recently the futuristic electromagnetic rail gun had already undergone extensive testing on land and would be mounted on the USNS Millinocket, a high-speed vessel, for sea trials beginning in 2016.
The Navy research chief said that cost differential - $25,000 for a railgun projectile versus $500,000 to $1.5 million for a missile - will make potential enemies think twice about the economic viability of engaging U.S. forces.
Railguns use electromagnetic energy known as the Lorenz Force to launch a projectile between two conductive rails. The high-power electric pulse generates a magnetic field to fire the projectile with very little recoil, officials said.
"We're talking about a projectile that we're going to send well over 100 miles, we're talking about a projectile that can go over Mach 7, we're talking about a projectile that can go well into the atmosphere," Klunder said.
The U.S. Navy's Newest 21st Century Weapon
This is yet another step the US military is taking to make sure it is ready for 21st century warfare: the railgun.