By Luke Campbell-Dixon

Weapon Engineering

Engineers at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Dahlgren, Va., successfully fired the first shot from the Electromagnetic (EM) Railgun prototype launcher, developed by BAE Systems. The test shot kicks off a two-month-long series of tests to evaluate the first industry-developed EM Railgun that will help bring the U.S. Navy a significant step closer to producing a next-generation, long-range weapon for surface ships.

“This is the first-ever shot from the world’s first tactical Railgun. Unlike the laboratory launcher, this Railgun has the look and design of a gun that could potentially fit onboard a surface ship,” said Dr. Amir Chaboki, BAE Systems’ Program Manager for Advanced Systems. “This accomplishment is a result of great collaboration between BAE Systems and our industry partner, IAP Research, engineers, scientists and our government counterparts.”

These tests will complete the first phase of a two-phase program to essentially invent an entirely new gun that will change the Navy forever. The second phase will focus on further developing the technology at a significant firing rate of 10 rounds per minute while implementing cooling and thermal management.

The EM Railgun technology uses high-power electromagnetic energy instead of explosive chemical propellants to propel a projectile farther and faster than any gun before it. When fully weaponized, the EM Railgun will deliver hypervelocity projectiles in support of Marines, ground forces and ship defense.

At full capability, the EM Railgun, mounted on U.S. Navy vessels, will be able to fire a projectile at 32-megajoules (MJ) approximately 110 nautical miles. The high-velocity projectile will destroy land, sea, and air targets using kinetic energy, rather than with conventional explosives.

“This event marks a monumental achievement for our company and the Office of Naval Research,” said Mark Signorelli, BAE Systems Vice President and General Manager, Weapon Systems. “We are excited to work with the U.S. Navy to bring this revolutionary and game-changing capability to our Sailors and Marines.”

U.S. Navy MACH 10 Railgun Test by BAE