US Navy is all set to make use of a new and radical weapon that is capable of firing a shell at 7 times the speed of sound by 2018. The railgun is termed as ‘Star Wars Technology’ and can fire a shell that weighs in at 10kg with a speed of 5,400mph over a distance of 100 miles. The fired shell is capable of penetrating three concrete walls (six half-inch thick steel plates).
The development of this weapon is progressing so well that a Navy admiral is ready to skip an at-sea prototype and move to the installation of an operational unit aboard the Zumwalt-class destroyers. The electromagnetic launchers were one of the aspects that were researched by Ronald Reagan’s Strategic Defence Initiative known as ‘Star Wars’.
Instead of using gunpowder for accelerating a projectile, the railguns use electricity. Admiral Pete Fanta, the Navy’s director of surface warfare, has suggested that the railgun be installed on future USS Lyndon B. Johnson. No final decision has been made as of yet though.
Lt. Cmdr. Hayley Sims, a Navy spokeswoman said, “The Zumwalt-class is one of a number of options being explored for the electromagnetic railgun. Due to the size, weight and power requirements, some platforms will be better suited for the technology than others.”
The railgun makes use of an electromagnetic force, called the Lorenz Force, for accelerating the projectile between the two rails that are conductors of electricity, subsequently firing it at an unbelievable speed. This implies that the railgun is capable of firing further and inflicting more damage as compared to conventional guns.
Loren Thompson, a defense analyst at the Lexington Institute said, “The Navy is determined to increase the offensive punch of the surface warships. To do that with a limited budget, it needs to look at everything from smart munitions to railguns to lasers.”