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Future Warfare: Meet The Electromagnetic Railgun

General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems has successfully tested its electromagnetic railgun technology—a first step toward a new form of strategic ordnance.

If war is the continuation of politics by other means, General Atomics’ 3-megajoule Blitzer electromagnetic railgun is a serious new political instrument.

The railgun is essentially an artillery piece that uses electromagnetic fields, rather than more conventional chemical propellants, to launch projectiles at hypersonic speeds far in excess of what typical ordnance can achieve.

Railguns are touted as one of the future technologies of warfare, using kinetic and laser energies instead of classic controlled explosives.

Because the missile is fired using kinetic energy this eliminates the risks associated with keeping explosives on a ship.

The Department of the Navy’s science and technology corporate board chartered the Innovative Naval Prototype (INP) to build the EM Railgun, which uses generated by the ship, according to the Office of Naval Research.

An electric pulse is sent to the railgun which creates an electromagnetic force which releases the projectile at Mach 6, or 4,500 mph. 

According to the ONR: ‘The railgun is a true warfighter game changer.

‘Wide-area coverage and exceptionally quick response will extend the reach and lethality of ships armed with this technology.

‘A future weapon system at this energy level would be capable of launching a 100+ nautical mile projectile’.

The railgun was tested Dahlgren naval facility’s new Terminal Range in Virginia.

The US Navy has been working on the gun with BAE Systems since 2005.

Because the missile is fired using kinetic energy, this eliminates the risks associated with keeping explosives on a ship

US military has been working on the weapon since 2005 and say it is one of the future technologies of warfare

The EM Railgun relies on energy that is generated by the ship, according to the Office of Naval Research

The technology uses electromagnets to send its projectiles hurtling off at thousands of miles per hour. The force generated can be adjusted, depending on the range of the target

During phase I developers focused on developing pulsed power technology.

During phase II, which started in 2012, will further develop the pulsed power system and the launcher system.

‘We’ve got to move away from gunpowder,’ said Fox’s defense analyst, Allison Barrie last year.

‘The future is lasers and electromagnetic railguns’, he said.

Last year, a similar device called the Blitzer railgun also released a missile at Mach 6 speeds.

Relying on the same technology, this railgun was designed by San Diego-based General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems (GA-EMS).

It also used electromagnets to send its projectiles hurtling off at thousands of miles per hour.

The electromagnetic force generated can be adjusted, depending on the range of the target.

HOW DOES THE RAILGUN REACH SUCH SPEEDS?

Railguns use electricity instead of gunpowder to accelerate a projectile at six or seven times the speed of sound.

Using an electromagnetic force known as the Lorenz Force, the gun accelerates a projectile between two rails that conduct electricity, before launching it at a ferocious speed.

This means the railgun can fire further than conventional guns and maintain enough kinetic energy to inflict tremendous damage.

Tests have shown that the weapons can fire a shell weighing 10kg at up to 5,400mph over 100 miles – with such force and accuracy it penetrates three concrete walls or six half-inch thick steel plates.

The video below shows tests of BAE’s model.

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