U.S. Navy evaluating a second railgun prototype

By Ben Coxworth
October 11, 2012

Back in February, the Office of Naval Research (ONR) test-fired a prototype electromagnetic railgun that had been built by BAE Systems for the U.S. Navy. BAE isn’t the only game in town, however – this Tuesday, ONR announced that it is now evaluating a second railgun prototype, made by San Diego-based General Atomics.

As with the BAE device, the latest prototype has been installed at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Dahlgren, Virgina.

Unlike conventional guns, railguns don’t use explosives such as gunpowder to propel their projectiles. Instead, they incorporate a sliding metal armature that sits between two conductive metal rails. Once the railgun is activated, an electrical current flows up one rail, through the armature, and back down the other rail. This accelerates the armature forward at great speed.

Read more: U.S. Navy evaluating a second railgun prototype — gizmag.

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