U.S Navy Begins Test On EM Railgun

  • 12:00 AM, February 29, 2012
  • 1656
The Navy has fired the first industry-built electromagnetic railgun (EM Railgun) prototype launcher at a test facility, commencing an evaluation that is an important intermediate step toward a future tactical weapon for ships, officials announced Feb. 28. The firing at Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD) kicks off a two- month-long test series by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) to evaluate the first of two industry-built launchers. The EM Railgun launcher is a long-range weapon that fires projectiles using electricity instead of chemical propellants. Magnetic fields created by high electrical currents accelerate a sliding metal conductor, or armature, between two rails to launch projectiles at 4,500 mph to 5,600 mph. After installing the BAE Systems launcher and outfitting it with a comprehensive suite of sensors, high-speed cameras and measuring devices, engineers fired successful low-energy test shots to prepare it for the evaluation. When fully developed, the EM Railgun will give Sailors a dramatically increased multimission capability. Its increased velocity and extended range over traditional shipboard weapons will allow them to conduct precise, long-range naval surface fire support for land strikes; ship self-defense against cruise and ballistic missiles; and surface warfare to deter enemy vessels. The Navy's near-term goal is a 20- to 32- megajoule weapon that shoots a distance of 50 to 100 nautical miles.
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