Electro-magnetic Projectile Accelerator

Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

Got some extra room under you Christmas tree? Have I got the perfect stocking stuffer for you! It fires a 7 pound projectile at 7,875 feet per second. What’s not to love? It’s an electro-magnetic projectile accelerator. OK, it’s a railgun. The launcher is at ONR’s Electromagnetic Launch Facility, located in Virginia at the Naval Surface Warfare Center’s Dahlgren Division Laboratory.

A video of the test firing is below the fold.

The goal is a 64 Mega Joule (MJ) (muzzle energy) Electromagnetic Rail Gun (EMRG). One megajoule is the amount of kinetic energy of a 1-ton car traveling at 100 mph. The video is of a recent 33 MJ firing.

The attraction of the railgun is its ability to fire projectiles 10 or more times the distance of conventional naval guns. At these projectile speeds, the friction with the air produces extremely high temperature gasses that the barrel must accommodate before the next round is fired.

H/T: Defense Industrial Daily, Fox News.

14 thoughts on “Electro-magnetic Projectile Accelerator”

  1. lol Mullensmd


    I was saving that for later. I didn’t want to ruin the surprise. 😉

  2. Buddha,

    Don’t you read Heinlein, man?

    First we build one on the Moon…

    Then the Guidance computer goes sentient….

    Then it starts lobbing stuff at us!

  3. Buddha…if they built on the moon and it melted it….would we be in for some major Fondue?

  4. The Nazis had floated the notion of a magnetic rail gun in WWII, to be built in NW France to launch a flood of projectiles at London. The idea fell apart when it was realized there wasn’t enough electrical generating capacity in the area, to support such a weapon. It’s hard to compete with gunpowder.

  5. I submitted a design to our government in around 1999-2000 for what I called and Electro-Magnetic Platform Gun, this was a Space based basic crude design for a defense anti ballistic missile system…

    Tell no one of this…

  6. Lets see if I can get this slightly longer video to embed. This may answer rafflaw’s question about how the target fared.


  7. I would expect that any electronics inside the projectile, used for guidance, for example, would be subjected to acceleration forces much greater than in conventional artillery shells. Just another of the challenging engineering problems to be solved.

  8. OMFG,………….so wants one of them, would be sweet to shake the hell out of my neighbor and his loud parties, LOL this would be louder…………….please Santa, I’ve been pretty good so far….LOL

  9. rafflaw: At that velocity, both the projectile and target would liquefy. Make a big splash of molten material.

    Funny thing. When I was in high school, my best friend and I did the calculations for such a weapon. It has been more than a half century, but as I recall, we came up with these kinds of numbers. We figured the atmospheric friction heating would likely cause the projectile to be a molten blob by the time it exited the rail or barrel. My friend is now a well known theoretical physicist. I got my degree in another field of science but never lost my interest in things that go fast through the air.

  10. “At these projectile speeds, the friction with the air produces extremely high temperature gasses that the barrel must accommodate before the next round is fired.”

    So I would imagine that your first shot better be your best shot.

  11. Wow! I saw this article the other day, but that is the first time I have seen the video. What kind of damage will it do when it hits its target? I like the deterrent capability a weapon like this does for ships and possibly land based forces. I am surprised that we haven’t seen any laser weapons in the military’s hands yet. Thanks NAL.

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