The Navy is currently in the process of developing a super-powerful electromagnetic rail gun. The weapon will have a range of more than 100 miles, traveling several times the speed of sound.
Currently, the railgun is only a prototype, and the durability of its barrel and overall structural integrity is being tested at the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division in northern Virginia. The railgun is capable of firing rounds upwards of 5,600 miles per hour, which is seven times greater than the speed of sound.
Navy researches have hopes of the railgun being used in providing support for soldiers storming beaches or defending against enemy ships. The current guns on destroyers only have a range of 15 miles.
"As you can see, it represents a significant increase in range," Roger Ellis, the Office of Naval Research's electromagnetic railgun program manager, said in a conference, reports Fox News.
A railgun operates by utilizing two sliding contacts that allow electric current to pass through a projectile, which in turn interacts with a magnetic field, accelerating a projectile.
The 40-foot railgun began development in 2005 with 240 million dollars currently invested into it, and the project is expected to continue until 2017. Though, progress seems to be moving along swiftly for the weapon, which is already in its later state of prototyping and had been test fired six times last week.
Tom Hurn, director of railgun programs, for General Atomics, one of the two companies providing the prototype stated, "We believe this is definitely a game changing capability that'll enable our forward presence and freedom of the seas."