A radical new weapon that can fire a shell at seven times the speed of sound has been introduced into the U.S. Navy. Described by researchers as “Star Wars technology”, this electromagnetic rail gun uses electricity to accelerate the shell, instead of chemical explosives. It uses the same principles as that of a particle accelerator; high electrical currents accelerate a sliding metal conductor, or armature, between two rails, launching projectiles at 5600 mph.
The high tech gun can fire projectiles over a range of 100+ miles.
While the weapon is scheduled to be widely used by the Navy in 2018, the results of the prototype guns were so impressive that Admiral Pete Fanta, the Navy’s director of surface warfare, suggested installing them into warships as early as this year.
The EM rail gun is remarkably inexpensive to use, relative to traditional shells and missiles. The cost of each projectile is only $25,000, one percent of the cost of a Navy missile. Because no explosives are required to launch the shell, the high tech gun is much safer. The kinetic energy warhead eliminates the hazards of high explosives in the ship and unexploded ordnance on the battlefield.
President Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative, nicknamed ‘Star Wars’ in the 1980’s, began the research into electromagnetic launchers.
The weapon can fire a shell weighing 10kg at up to 5,600mph over 100 miles – with such force and accuracy it penetrates three concrete walls or six half-inch thick steel plates. It can be used against other naval threats, air threats (planes or missiles), and ground targets.