The United States Navy's Electromagnetic Railgun system has been fired for the 1,000th time, bringing the system one step closer to integration on USN warships deployed at sea.
Less than 12 months ago, the railgun established a new world record when it fired a projectile with 33 megajoules of force. Since then, the tests have been ongoing, culminating in the landmark 1,000th launch, which occurred on 31 October.
The 999 previous firings have examined various aspects related to the system's performance, including potential damage caused to it by the massive forces involved when it's in operation.
USN Electromagnetic Railgun
The USN's Electromagnetic Railgun's being put through its paces by scientists working at ONR - the Office of Naval Research.
"A railgun weapons system must be able to launch hundreds of projectiles and withstand extreme pressures, currents and temperatures", Captain Paul Stewart, the US Naval Research Laboratory Materials Testing Facility's Commanding Officer, explained.
"Today's firing of the 1,000th shot demonstrates Navy researchers are steadily progressing toward achieving that goal, developing a more effective and efficient future ship combat system."
US Navy Railgun: Projectile Launch
The US Navy railgun defies the convention set by earlier weapons designs, which typically launch their projectiles with an explosive force. It, by contrast, draws on electromagnetic power to charge a projectile forwards. This launched projectile travels on rails, before leaving the railgun at extreme velocities, up to a maximum of seven times the speed of sound (Mach 7).
"This test demonstrates continued advances in armature development, rail design, and barrel materials used in high power railgun launch", Doctor Robert Meger, who leads the Charged Particle Physics division of ONR, said in a statement. "Firing up to 15 shots per week on the laboratory's experimental railgun, researchers at NRL perform detailed testing and analysis of rails and armatures, providing S&T expertise to the Navy program that is directly applicable to tests at large-scale power levels", he added.
From here on in, the USN will continue to progress the Electromagnetic Railgun concept, despite the chance that its future might be endangered by budget costs.
Railgun image copyright US Navy