Back in 2010 we showed you that the United States Navy developed a 33-megajoule railgun prototype. Rather than relying on a explosion to fire a projectile, the technology uses an electomagnetic current to accelerate a non-explosive bullet at several times the speed of sound. The conductive projectile zips along a set of electrically charged parallel rails and out of the barrel at speeds up to Mach 7. The result is a weapon that can hit a target 100 miles or more away within minutes. The prototype that we saw back in 2010 was large and clearly not ready to see any action. The new prototype, developed by BAE systems, shows that the railgun has gotten smaller, and likely closer to combat readiness.

A test shot fires from the Office of Naval Research-funded Electromagnetic Railgun prototype launcher located at the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division. The test shots begin a month-long series of full-energy tests to evaluate the technology. This prototype, developed by BAE, is the first of two industry-built launchers that will bring the Department of the Navy a step closer to producing a new-generation, long-range, weapon for surface ships.