In July 2017, the Office of Naval study announced the the Navy's electromagnetic railgun was all set for ar demonstrations.BATH, Maine — The U.S. Navy has pulled the plug, because that now, on a futuristic weapon that fires projectiles in ~ up to seven times the speed of sound making use of electricity.

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The navy spent an ext than a decade developing the electromagnetic railgun and once thought about putting lock on the new, stealthy Zumwalt-class destroyers built at Maine’s bath Iron Works.

But the Defense department is transforming its attention to hypersonic missiles to store up with China and Russia, and also the navy cut capital for railgun research study from its latest budget proposal.

“The railgun is, for the moment, dead,” claimed Matthew Caris, a defense analyst in ~ consultancy Avascent Group.

The removed of funding says the Navy observed both obstacles in implementing the modern technology as well as shortcomings in the projectiles’ selection compared come hypersonic missiles, that said.

The Navy’s decision come pause study at year’s end frees up resources for hypersonic missiles, directed-energy equipment (like lasers) and also electronic war systems, claimed Lt. Courtney Callaghan, a marine spokesperson. Info gleaned during testing will be kept in the occasion the Office of Naval research wants to choose up whereby it left off in the future, she added.

All told, the marine spent about $500 million on research and also development, according to Bryan Clark, an analyst in ~ the Hudson Institute.

The technology was close come making the leap from science fiction to truth in the 21st century with the trial and error of prototypes. The concept held the possibility of providing an effective weapon at pennies ~ above the dollars compared to smart bombs and missiles. That’s since railguns use electrical power instead of gunpowder, or jet or rocket engines, to advice a projectile at 6 or seven times the speed of sound. The creates enough kinetic power to damage targets.


A high-speed camera captures a full-energy shooting by one electromagnetic railgun prototype launcher at a test facility in Dahlgren, Va. (John F. Williams/U.S. Marine via AP)

But there to be a variety of problems. Those had the variety of around 110 mile in testing. A navy vessel might not employ the pistol without placing itself within variety of a barrage of opponent missiles. And also its usefulness because that missile defense to be also limited by selection and rate of fire, Clark said.

The idea dates back to the 1940s. Yet there have constantly been major hurdles because the parallel rails, or conductors, space subjected to massive electric current and magnetic pressures that can reason damage after a couple of shots, claimed defense analyst Norman Friedman. A huge question was always whether the gun can stay with each other during constant firing, Friedman added.

A common gun deserve to be fired around 600 times before the barrel must be refurbished, yet the barrel ~ above the railgun prototype had actually to be replaced after around a dozen or two dozen shots to be fired, Clark said.

A couple of years ago, the navy was talking about putting the total on the future warship lindon B. Johnson, the last of three stealthy destroyers. It’s nearing completion and builder trials at bathtub Iron Works.

The 600-foot-long warship uses naval turbines similar to those the propel the Boeing 777 plane to help produce as much as 78 megawatts of electrical power for use in propulsion, weapons and sensors. That’s much more than enough electrical energy for the railgun, and the delivery has an are following the cancellation of the progressed gun system, leaving the ship with no standard cannon-based weapon.

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Instead, the navy is follow an offshoot of the railgun, a hypervelocity projectile, that have the right to be fired indigenous existing total systems.