We have had extensive coverage of the work on the US Navy railgun project The latest video is of the BAE industrialized version of the railgun. It now looks more like a navy gun instead of an industrial research project with exposed rails. They are working on a thermally managed railgun that can shoot ten shots per minute.
CS Monitor – the navy gun is firing 40 pound bullets at Mach 7. 32 megajoules is equal to 32 tons going at 100 mph. It is roughly equal to something weighing a little less than one ton going at 600 mph. The impact would be like a one ton plane colliding at just under the speed of sound.
General Atomics successfully test-fired aerodynamic rounds from its Blitzer™ electromagnetic (EM) railgun prototype for the first time in September 2010. This test demonstrated the integration and capabilities of a tactically relevant EM railgun launcher, pulsed power system, and projectile. The test was performed at the U.S. Army Dugway Proving Grounds under a contract with the Office of Naval Research, using projectiles developed by Boeing’s Phantom Works in St. Charles, Mo. The projectiles were launched by the Blitzer system at Mach 5 speed with acceleration levels exceeding 60,000 gee, and exhibited repeatable sabot separation and stable flight.
A second railgun prototype, built by General Atomics, is set to arrive for testing in April, Ellis said. Having railguns built by different companies gives the Navy a choice if it ultimately decides to deploy the superweapon.
During the five years of Phase II, the Navy plans to test cooling systems and a battery that could store the energy required by the railgun. It has contracted with General Atomics, BAE Systems and Raytheon for designs for a pulsed power system.
Because of its hypersonic speed produced by the railgun, a projectile shaped like a bullet could deliver devastating damage even without exploding. It could include electronic guidance systems such as GPS that would be protected against the immense heat of the giant bullet’s hypersonic passage.
“The rounds we are firing currently are non-aerodynamic slugs,” Ellis said of the testing. “They match the interior ballistics of what the launcher is expected to see but are intended to slow down quickly.”
If all goes well, the Navy could end up equipping its ships with railguns of all different sizes. Companies such as General Atomics have already built smaller railguns for their own testing purposes.
The Navy’s goal is to demonstrate a full-capability prototype by 2018.