The Navy’s railgun is now being tested at the military’s proving grounds in New Mexico, according to officials.
Earlier this week, it was reported that the Navy had quietly moved its experimental electromagnetic railgun to the U.S. Army’s White Sands Missile Range. Live-fire tests of the potentially game-changing weapon have been taking place for perhaps several weeks.
The railgun project has been accelerating over the past eight weeks. At the end of May, the U.S. Navy reported that engineers and technicians at the Naval Surface Warfare Center were setting up shop at the Port Hueneme Division (NSWC PHD) at White Sands.
But apparently preparations for the much anticipated test firings have been going on for much longer. “The installation of the railgun began earlier this year and required a large effort for the mount, gun, power controls, displays and functional ties into the range,” said Site Manager John Winstead in an official statement. The extent of the set-up required to host the railgun is a testament to the colossal power of the weapon. Every round requires about 32 megajoules of energy to fire, which is roughly the amount of power running through a modern-day office building every thirty seconds.
The importance of the Navy’s railgun as a next-generation weapon is due to its sheer destructive force. The cannon launches projectiles at well over 5,000 mph, three times the speed of most conventional firearms. The speed alone turns the round into a kinetic warhead, generating the destructive force of a large explosive just by ramming into the target.