Thursday, March 8, 2012

Railguns: The Navy's 'Ultimate Superweapon'

That they are now starting to brag about it is pretty good confirmation that the technical issues are now resolved and the weapon is deliverable.  I say this because every high school student taking physics for the past half century has known of the possibility but also knew that the rails were destroyed in the process.  A huge issue that needed to be worked around.

Otherwise the weapon is still a conventional ballistic system with massive range and fits well with naval doctrine.  Recall that the ballistic option effectively disappeared for the Navy during WWII.  Today the capital ship is an aircraft carrier for good reason.  This is not going to change as the air footprint is huge.  A rail gun does provide escorts with a complimentary foot print that was missing.

More interesting such a weapon would act as an excellent anti missile system against any intercontinental missiles that are incoming and may even find its way into space on that mission.  Depending on range, the navy could even take on that role as they have mobile launch platforms and any attacker must pass over coasts.

Railguns: The Navy's 'ultimate superweapon'

This terrifyingly powerful gun can shoot a 40-pound metal slug up to 5,600 miles per hour. See it in action
POSTED ON MARCH 1, 2012, AT 4:30 PM

The Navy's electromagnetic railgun prototype can fire metal projectiles like this with 32 times the force of a car traveling at 100 miles per hour. Photo: Facebook/Office of Naval Research

The video: After six years of development and at least $240 million, the U.S. Navy's futuristic electromagnetic railgun is one big step closer to reality. The Office of Naval Research (ONR) is now test-firing a working prototype of the weapon that's small enough to fit on a warship. Using electric pulses, not chemical explosives, the cannon can shoot a 40-pound metal slug from New York to Philadelphia at up to 5,600 miles per hour — more than seven times the speed of sound — with 32 times the force of a car traveling at 100 miles per hour. (Watch a video below.) "This is the stuff you saw in movies a couple of years ago — cutting-edge, taking out the Transformers — and now it's reality," says ONR chief Adm. Matthew Klunder

The reaction: Meet "the ultimate superweapon," says David Woods at Manolith. The railgun is already deadly with these test projectiles — basically non-aerodynamic hunks of metal — and once the railgun starts using real ammo, "it could revolutionize the way battles are fought." But watching this "railgun in action chills me to the bone," says Jacqueline Burt at The Stir. "I'm not disputing the incredible technical achievement this signifies," but I could say the same of the atomic bomb. Can any good "ever come from creating a weapon of mass destruction"? 

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