DAHLGREN, Va. – A futuristic weapon getting a trial run by the Navy demonstrated its destructive power at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Dahlgren.
In the demonstration Thursday, engineers fired the electromagnetic railgun at what they said was a record power level: 10 megajoules.
The previous railgun power-use record was about 9 megajoules of muzzle energy.
Railguns use electromagnetic energy to launch projectiles long distances — more than 200 nautical miles.
Because the railgun uses electricity and not gunpowder to fire projectiles, it eliminates the possibility of explosions on ships.
The Navy hopes the railgun will eventually replace the standard 5-inch gun on its ships. The weapon isn't expected to be deployed until at least 2020.
[A joule is defined as the energy needed to produce one watt of electricity for one second.
The railgun tested Thursday actually has a capacity of 32 megajoules, but the Navy is slowly building up the energy level in a series of tests.
That's a lot of power, but with a new series of electrically-powered ships coming on line, the Navy figures generating capacity will not be a problem.
According to the Navy, the railgun, when fully developed, will be able to launch solid projectiles at Mach 5, or about 3,700 mph.]