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US navy electro-cannon test successful

Hypersonic railgun slug breaks Mach 7

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Video The US Navy's electromagnetic railgun project notched up a successful test yesterday. The radical new protoype weapon, operated by the the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren, fired* shot a hypersonic aluminium slug at approximately Mach 7.5 to generate muzzle energy of 10.6 megajoules.

Here's a vid of the test:

The Office of Naval Research are hoping that they can scale up their electric cannon to 64-megajoule levels, enabling them to fire heavier projectiles at targets two hundred miles away. Whether electrical pulses of the required magnitude can be generated practicably remains to be seen.

Even if they can be, at present railgun barrels only have a life of three or four shots owing to the terrific stresses placed on them - this problem will also need to be solved.

Still, if these and other technical niggles can be ironed out, the Dahlgren railgun's descendants may genuinely change the rules of the killing game. For now, though, all we have is a pleasing video. ®

*Presumably we can't say that, actually, any more than one could speak of "firing" an arrow from a bow. Blitzed, perhaps?

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