The U.S. Navy is developing an electromagnetic rail gun that has the potential to fire projectiles faster than the speed of sound.
Although it may sound like science fiction, the U.S. Navy is developing a weapon known as the “8 Megajoule Electromagnetic Railgun.” This weapon has the capability – in theory at least – to shoot a projectile at Mach 8, which is eight time faster than the speed of sound or about 5,000 miles per hour. The electromagnetic railgun is expected to enter its testing phase in 2017.
The U.S. Navy hopes to use the electromagnetic railgun as an offshore weapon attached to its warships. Next generation naval warships are expected to be outfitted with the electromagnetic railgun around 2020. In theory, the electromagnetic railgun could fire on an entire battlefield from offshore. It is also believed that this type of weapon has the potential to end conflicts quickly with less force than a nuclear bomb.
The electromagnetic railgun works by generating electrical magnetic energy inside a bank of flux capacitors. The system creates enough energy to propel a projectile forward at remarkably high speeds. In 2010, the U.S. Navy was testing a number of prototypes of the weapon.