The US Navy blew away a world record last week at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Dahlgren, Virginia when they successfully fired their new electromagnetic cannon.
The experimental cannon is capable of firing a projectile 110 nautical miles (200 kilometers) at five times the speed of sound. The US Navy hopes that this revolutionary cannon will extend the reach of weapons aboard ships.
“The 33-megajoule shot means the Navy can fire projectiles at least 110 nautical miles, placing sailors and Marines at a safe standoff distance and out of harm’s way, and the high velocities achievable are tactically relevant for air and missile defense,” Rear Adm. Nevin Carr, chief of naval research, said in a Navy report on the test.
“This demonstration moves us one day closer to getting this advanced capability to sea.”
Unlike conventional ship weapons, the futuristic railgun uses powerful jolts of electric current to propel a non-explosive slug along rails before launching it at supersonic velocities. The gun’s range could extend up to 20 times that of conventional guns currently in use, with slugs propelled at five times the speed of sound. In addition, the weapon’s use of a controlled magnetic field and electric jolts eliminates the need to carry bulky explosives on board ships.
The record 33 megajoule shot produced on Friday is three times that of the previous record, also set by the US Navy in 2008.
A megajoule is equivalent to the energy released when a one-ton vehicle slams into a wall at 100 miles (160 kilometers) per hour.
But the Navy is not stopping there, with plans to have a 64-megajoule railgun system onboard ships by 2025.