WASHINGTON (TIP): The US navy has announced plans to deploy its first ever electromagnetic railgun, a “game changing” device that fires projectiles without explosives over distance of 160 km and at seven times the speed of sound. Railguns use an electromagnetic force known as the Lorenz Force to rapidly accelerate projectiles between a pair of conductive rails, firing them a velocity greater than can be achieved by traditional guns and artillery.
This increased velocity means that projectiles do not need to have any explosive payload. Instead, the railgun simply fires a solid lump of metal, relying on the speed of its impact to transfer massive amounts of heat and kinetic energy to the target. The navy has said that weapon represents “the future of naval combat” with current prototypes capable of punching through the hull of ship “like a freight train” due to be installed and tested on ships by 2016.
“The American public has never seen it,” said Rear Admiral Matthew Klunder, chief of naval research, in a telephone press conference. “Frankly , we think it might be the right time for them to know what we’ve been doing behind closed doors in a Star Wars fashion,” he said. “It’s now reality . It’s not science fiction. It’s real and you can look at it.” Because railguns do not require any explosive shells, the price of firing the weapon is massively reduced, with a 10kg projectile costing just $25,000 -1 /100th the cost of a conventional misile.