When I first saw this an half hour ago, I thought it a recent test firing. Now looking at the date it’s actually from December 2010, but it’s still cool to see.
A railgun doesn’t use an explosive charge to fire the projectile. Instead, it uses electromagnets to pull the projectile along until it leaves the weapon. The projectile doesn’t contain explosives, but at a muzzle velocity of around 11,000 feet per second (about Mach 10!) the force of impact would probably at least equal that of an conventional explosive. Plus, not having the danger of all that explosive ordinance on board makes a happier Navy.
BAE Systems, along with partners IAP Research and SAIC, participated in a record-setting shot measuring 33-megajoules (MJ) of muzzle energy set by the Office of Naval Research’s (ONR) experimental Electromagnetic Railgun launcher on December 10, 2010. The shot broke ONR’s previously held world record of 10.64MJ of muzzle energy achieved in Jan. 2008.
A MJ is a measurement of energy associated with a mass traveling at a certain velocity. For example, a one-ton vehicle moving at 100 mph equals a MJ of energy.
The experimental Electromagnetic Railgun launcher used for the demonstration was developed through a team led by BAE Systems, after which BAE Systems showcased their advanced composite prototype railgun to Navy leaders.
BAE Systems received a $21 million contract from ONR in February 2009 to design and develop an advanced containment railgun prototype.
- U.S. Navy Testing Shiny New 32-Megajoule Railgun Prototype (pcworld.com)
- U.S. Navy set to test first industry railgun prototype (gizmag.com)
- US Navy preps railgun for tests (go.theregister.com)