U.S. Navy now has two railgun prototypes to play with

Our official motto here at DVICE is as follows: "you can never have enough railguns." As it so often does, the U.S. Navy has followed our lead, and has acquired a second prototype railgun system for testing.

This second prototype system comes from General Atomics, the same company that makes the Predator drones. The first railgun, which the Navy has been messing around with since January, was constructed by BAE Systems. Here's a picture, and you can see that the design, while similar, does have some significant differences:


So, what do you do with two railguns? We can think of some things:

  • Shoot stuff
  • Mount them side-by-side to make one badass double-barrel railgun
  • Shoot more stuff
  • Put them 10 miles apart, fire them both at once, and see if you can get the projectiles to smash into each other in midair
  • Shoot even more stuff

The Navy seems to be favoring the "shoot more stuff" option, and within the next five years it hopes to have a tactically deployable system that can automatically load and fire between six and 10 rounds per minute. Issues that need to be overcome include charging the gun up to 30 or 40 megajoules of energy as quickly as possible, and firing the projectiles at 5,600 miles per hour without destroying the internal rails and barrel after just a handful of shots.

General Atomics, via ONR

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