Navy to Fire Electromagnetic Rail Gun at Sea

A high-speed camera captures the first full-energy shots from the Office of Naval Research-funded electromagnetic railgun prototype launcher, Feb. 23, 2012, at a test facility in Dahlgren, Virginia. (Photo by John F. Williams/U.S. Navy)A high-speed camera captures the first full-energy shots from the Office of Naval Research-funded electromagnetic railgun prototype launcher, Feb. 23, 2012, at a test facility in Dahlgren, Virginia. (Photo by John F. Williams/U.S. Navy)

The U.S. Navy plans to test-fire a long-range electromagnetic weapon against a floating target at sea later this year as part of the fast-paced development of its new Electromagnetic Rail Gun.

The rail gun uses an electromagnetic current to fire a kinetic energy warhead up to 100 miles at speeds greater than 5,000 miles per hour — a speed at least three times as fast as existing weapons.

In the upcoming exercise, the kinetic energy projectile will seek to hit, destroy or explode an at sea target from on-board the USNS Trenton, a Joint High Speed Vessel, service officials said.

The test shots, which will be the first of its kind for the developmental, next-generation weapon, will take place sometime later this year at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. The date hasn’t yet been specified.

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About the Author

Kris Osborn
Kris Osborn is the managing editor of Scout Warrior.
  • sw614

    While I can see the utility of kinetic energy rounds against certain hard targets, what about soft targets? Is a HE round in the works? Can an explosive round withstand the G forces present when the round is accelerated to such speeds? How effective will a KE round be against ships given that most warships do not have thick armor? Will a KE round just punch a hole straight through a vessel?

  • TeXan1111

    The navy's main mission is to attack pickup trucks and fuel trucks (just check what the carriers are fighting nowadays) Will this have enough power to do this?