US tech firm’s railgun fires projectiles at Mach 6

A railgun projectile is fired during a test. (US NAVY)

Looking to expand tactical and logistical capabilities while enhancing safety aboard US Navy vessels, an American technology firm contracted by the Navy has conducted a test of their new railgun prototype- one that pushes projectiles at six times the speed of sound.

According to the Daily Mail, the California-based firm General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems (GA-EMS) test-fired its Blitzer railgun, which uses electromagnets to send its projectiles careening towards targets at thousands of miles per hour.

GA-EMS has confirmed that the projectiles reached acceleration speeds of more than 30,000 times the force of gravity in a test conducted last week.

Considered the wave of the future in weapons tech, the railgun is considered to be a safer alternative than carrying conventional, explosive-based weaponry. Firing a solid projectile, the railgun uses kinetic energy to deliver devastating destruction to any target it hits.

In addition the blistering speeds and the sheer ballistic power of railguns, the electromagnetic force used to power the railgun can be adjusted, allowing targets to be engaged at various ranges.

GA-EMS Vice president of missile defense and space systems Nick Bucci says the latest tests “completes the risk reduction and technology maturation of the individual components of our electromagnetic railgun launched hypersonic projectiles.”

“We continue to fire and test our projectiles in an open range setting, allowing us to collect and analyze¬†a significant amount of performance data under real-world conditions”, he said.

The American firm is in stiff competition with BAE Systems, who has been doing railgun tests with the US Navy since 2012.

GA-EMS has plans to have a test weapon aboard a US Navy destroyer by summer.

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