The Navy conducted its first successful test on Jan. 28 of a powerful new ship-based weapon at the Naval Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD) in Virginia.
“We are starting our full-energy tests to evaluate the barrel life and structural integrity of the prototype system,” said Roger Ellis, who is the Navy’s program manager for the electromagnetic railgun.
Ellis said that the EM railgun, nicknamed “Velocitas Eradico,” will allow ships to hit targets at an extremely long range. The EM railgun fires a heavy, metal projectile that travels at 4,500 mph to 5,600 mph, which is many times the speed of sound.
“The team will conduct tests at 20 megajoules and 32 megajoules, shooting test projectiles similar to what was previously fired through NSWCDD’s laboratory launcher,” Ellis said. A megajoule is a unit of measuring energy.
He said that the railgun is a true warfighter game changer that has incredible range and a fast response, giving U.S. ships extended reach and lethality.
The tests will be conducted for several months by the Office of Naval Research (ONR), and will test one of two EM railguns that the Navy is considering for future use. If and when the project is completed, the railgun will be used on the Zumwalt class destroyer according to the Navy Times.
The EM railgun being tested was built by BAE Systems, which is a British company that specializes in developing military weapons and equipment. The BEA railgun is in competition with another EM railgun designed by General Atomic Electromagnetics, which is an American company.
Ellis said that the next step for the Velocitas Eradicos is to increase the rate-of-fire to 10 rounds per minute using pulsed power and to create a thermal management system. The range of the gun will be roughly 50 to 100 miles.
“Its increased velocity and extended range over traditional shipboard weapons will allow them to conduct precise, long-range naval surface fire support for land strikes; ship self-defense against cruise and ballistic missiles; and surface warfare to deter enemy vessels,” Ellis said of the railgun.
“The next phase of the development effort is to demonstrate the ability to operate at a firing rate of significant military utility,” Ellis said.
The railgun will be a cost-effective dumb-fire weapon, as opposed to a guided missile, with incredible range and accuracy. According to Ellis it could be used to knock missiles and other projectiles out of the sky, and so it doubles as an effective defensive weapon as well as being an offensive weapon.
You can see the railgun test here: