Magazine article National Defense

Navy's Electric Gun Could Hit Targets More Than 100 Miles Away

Magazine article National Defense

Navy's Electric Gun Could Hit Targets More Than 100 Miles Away

Article excerpt

* The Navy has begun firing a weapon that uses electricity instead of gunpowder to launch projectiles faster and farther than ever before.

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The electromagnetic railgun now being tested comes from BAE Systems. Another prototype from General Atomics will be delivered later this month, officials said.

BAE's demonstrator is a 32-megajoule gun. Each megajoule is equal to the kinetic energy of a 1-ton car moving at 100 mph.

Testers have fired BAE's gun six times using a brick-like projectile, future projectiles will be long, slender and aerodynamic. They will contain electronics that will allow them to withstand the temperature and force that goes along with being blasted out of a railgun, officials said.

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Magnetic fields created by high electric currents drive a sliding metal conductor between two rails to send projectiles soaring through the air at up to 5,600 mph. A 40-pound projectile fired from the weapon would be able to travel 100 nautical miles in five seconds.

A fully developed electromagnetic rail-gun will allow sailors to support Marines landing on shore with precise, long-range fire support; defend ships against cruise and ballistic missiles; and target enemy boats and warships, said Roger Ellis, a program manager at the Office of Naval Research. …

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