Railgun technology getting closer to reality
Back when I was younger, railguns were talked about as if they were pure science fiction inventions. They were featured in video games, books and movies as a sort of futuristic weaponry. Now it looks like railguns will be up for deployment sooner rather than later.
Raytheon was recently awarded a contract for developing a pulsed power system for use in railgun technology. In conjunction with that, the Department of Defense is hoping to start test firing a new railgun, which will launch projectiles at speeds between 4,500 and 5,600 miles per hour up to distances of 100 nautical miles, later this month.
Railguns are currently limited primarily by the amount of heat the weapon produces and the power required to fire it. This leads to railguns having a short barrel life and a slow firing rate. With new materials being created and a power system already in development, we might be seeing railguns in the near future.
Railgun technology allow for lower-cost projectiles to be fired, and could provide significant savings for the military. Railgun projectiles are not filled with explosives, they simply use their high velocities to produce energy that compares or surpasses explosives of a similar mass. With the ever-present threat of budget cuts, railguns could prove to be an effective addition to arsenals around the world.