Archive for December 16th, 2010

Quietly Awesome Railgun Milestone

The U.S. Navy’s dreams of one day raining burning-hot bars of solid tungsten carbide down on enemies from hundreds of miles away came one step closer to fruition this week as they successfully demonstrated a thirty-three megajoule electromagnetic railgun firing. Range? Apparently around 110 miles.

It sounds impressive, and as far as railguns go, it certainly is. Note that the Navy are concentrating right now on raw power and, to a lesser extent, range, as steps towards their goal of having an immensely badass standoff weapon.

So far, as near as I can tell, nobody’s mentioning – anywhere! – the accuracy of such a system. We can rain death down on an enemy from over a hundred miles away, and have it arrive at several times the speed of sound, yay. What are the odds of actually hitting a realistically-sized target, though? At 110 miles, what’s the impact radius?

For that matter, what’s the intended target for this future railgun system? Obviously, the Navy would like to put big holes in noun from a great distance away… but what noun?

Don’t get me wrong, having a railgun that can punch holes in things from over a hundred miles away is extremely awesome, and is a great leap towards the “1970s of tomorrow” we were promised back in the 1950s. 🙂 I just think it would be nice if they at least dropped a few hints as to what the darn thing is meant for, is all.

(My guess is that this is meant, like many naval weapons, as an anti-ship weapon, as a way of countering – or completely bypassing, at very high speed – missile-defense systems. A little browsing online might turn up just who exactly has recently fielded, or is about to field, a new system of that sort…)

Published in: Geekiness, General | on December 16th, 2010 | No Comments »