Navy Experimental Rail Gun to Fire GPS-Guided Projectiles
The U.S. military has been looking for ways to smarten up its dumb projectiles for years—look no further than this GPS guided mortar round recently fielded by the army—hoping to increase lethality while reducing collateral damage. The Navy is no exception to this trend, and the seaborne branch is looking for precision beyond its current arsenal. The Office of Naval Research wants a guided munition for its experimental electromagnetic rail gun that can alter the course of a 5,600 mile per hour projectile in flight.
Electromagnetic rail guns use powerful magnets lined up in series along the length of a cannon to accelerate projectiles to thousands of miles per hour in an extremely short span, giving them ranges in the hundreds of miles. Next to the Navy’s current capabilities—officers claim the newest surface gun systems, which aren’t even online yet, will be able to reach targets up to 72 miles away—that’s a vast improvement. But thus far, the Navy’s rail gun program has cost $240 million over seven years, and the technology is still very much restricted to the lab.