Normally, new weaponry tends to make defense more expensive. But the Navy likes to say its new railgun delivers the punch of a missile at bullet prices.
A demonstration of the futuristic and comparatively inexpensive weapon yesterday at the Naval Surface Warfare Center at Dahlgren had Navy brass smiling.
The weapon, which was successfully tested in October at the King George County base, fires nonexplosive projectiles at incredible speeds, using electricity rather than gun powder.
The technology could increase the striking range of U.S. Navy ships more than tenfold by the year 2020.
"It's pretty amazing capability, and it went off without a hitch," said Capt. Joseph McGettigan, commander of NSWC Dahlgren Division.
"The biggest thing is it's real--not just something on the drawing board," he said.
The railgun works by sending electric current along parallel rails, creating an electromagnetic force so powerful it can fire a projectile at tremendous speed.
Because the gun uses electricity and not gunpowder to fire projectiles, it's safer, eliminating the possibility of explosions on ships and vehicles equipped with it.
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