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Navy railgun prototype burps fire and hurls projectiles

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A new Navy railgun prototype belched a jet of orange flame on its inaugural test shot, hurling a metal projectile at speeds up to 5,600 mph.

navy railgun
navy railgun

The US Office of Naval Research has shown off a video of a railgun test before, but this new clip is either more terrifying or more awesome, depending how you look at it. A new prototype railgun belched a jet of orange flame on its inaugural shot, sending a metal projectile — which can reach speeds up to 5,600 mph (9,000 km/h) — down range. It then left an eerie trail of superheated air behind it, not unlike the handheld railguns in Eraser.

The new prototype is significant aside from its nightmarish destructive force: it's the first privately built railgun that the Navy has tested. Built by BAE Systems, the gun is capable of firing a projectile with 32-megajoules of energy. For reference, a 1-ton car traveling at 100 mph (160 km/h) has a force of about one megajoule. The next stage of development is to build a railgun capable of firing up to ten rounds per minute. Right now the problem, as you can see, is the large amount of heat generated from each shot, so thermal management systems for the gun and power supply are next on the list. The Navy hopes to eventually mount 20- to 32-megajoule railguns on ships, which will be able to hit targets 50 to 100 nautical miles away. While we're peace-loving people at The Verge and don't condone shooting your own railguns at anything living, we do get a kick out of the combination of high-speed cameras and things moving really fast.