Modified Supergun Shoots Projectiles at 4,500 MPH

Interesting Engineering

The U.S. Navy developed an experimental railgun capable of rapid fire that shoots projectiles at staggering velocities without the need for explosives.

DAHLGREN, Va – Warning sirens wale out the concrete bunker at a top-secret Naval facility where U.S. military engineers and scientists prepare to fire a weapon for which no one can defend.

The weapon is a railgun capable of firing projectiles at 4,500 MPH and will soon reach 10 rounds per minute. The electromagnetic railgun launcher is a weapon system designed for long range targets that fires projectiles by using incredibly strong electromagnetic fields instead of chemical propellants. The magnetic fields produced by high electrical currents accelerate a sliding conductor between two rails to launch projectiles at 4,500 MPH.

How a Railgun Works

Electricity is gathered for a few moments in the pulsed power system. Then, an electric pulse is sent to the gun, creating an intense electromagnetic force  to accelerate the projectile up to Mach 6. The gun does not need explosives for propulsion or damage, it relies solely on electricity and its immense kinetic energy, reducing the potential hazards in the ship and unexploded shells on the battlefield.

What can it do?

The gun is designed as the "holy grail" of weapons. It can be used as anti-air, ship, or tank, destroying any target with ease. The gun is under current modifications to bump up its 38 nautical mile range, up to a staggering 100 miles. The duality of the gun will allow sailors multi-mission capabilities, allowing them to conduct multiple roles including ground fire, fire support or land strikes, ship defense, and naturally as a deterrent to ward away any enemy vessel.

The Navy is also making headway on a system that can fire 10 rounds per minute, a terrifying amount to any object downrange. Future progression of the weapon could see use in missile defence, a potentially cheaper and viable alternative to incredibly expensive current countermeasures. The gun shoots at such a high velocity that it could easily intercept a hostile missile from an extremely long distance. The bullets also house small electronic components that can be used to guide the projectile: an incredible feat of engineering by creating an electronic computer able to withstand the immense acceleration of the projectile.

The pentagon believes the new gun could cause a revolution on the battlefield as gunpowder technology dwindles out. The impressive gun requires a staggering 25 Megawatt Generator- that is enough power to support almost 19,000 homes. The current, and already US $1 Billion, is receiving an extended US$800 million to develop the technology and integrate it on other battleships. The gun is remarkably quite, however, an incredibly large bang can be heard solely due to the fact that the projectile is breaking the sound barrier- by more than six times.

The gun will go through more testing before it will be integrated into modern battleships. The gun retains some incredible technology that could revolutionize the battlefield and add a whole new element of fear, from over a 100 miles away. Of course, hopefully, there will not be a situation involving a live target to be at the wrong end of this massive gun. However, if there ever were, you can only imagine the wake of devastation it would leave behind.

railgun[Image Source: The US Department of Defense]

SEE ALSO: Railgun Tested by the US Navy

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