The U.S. Navy will reveal an electromagnetic railgun to the public for the first time on February 4th. The new Directed Energy Weapon (DEW) will be presented by experts from the Office of Naval Research (ONR), Naval Sea Systems Command and BAE Systems at the Naval Future Force Science and Technology EXPO in Washington. “We’ve achieved breakthroughs in compact power and gun design.” said Roger Ellis, program manager at ONR, in a recent Navy release.
The railgun is a DEW with innovative technology that uses high electrical currents to generate magnetic fields strong enough to launch projectiles 100 nautical miles, as fast as six times the speed of sound. The railgun has been a concept for years, but until recently, engineers had not found a strong enough electrical power source. The Navy invested $81 million to have K2, a lithium-iron phosphate battery developer, solve the power problem.
Using electricity to power weapons reduces the amount of high explosives on Navy ships and minimizes the dangers of unexploded ordinance remaining on the battlefield. The railgun prototype will be tested at sea and land in 2016 and 2017.