The U.S. Office of Naval Researchannounced last week that it demonstrated a world record-breaking 33-megajoule shot by its new electromagnetic railgun.
A megajoule measures the energy of a mass traveling at a certain velocity; a one-ton vehicle moving at 100 miles per hour equals a megajoule of energy.
The weapon, located aboard the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division, means that the Navy can fire projectiles at least 110 nautical miles, keeping sailors and Marines further away from harm.
It also means those projectiles have even higher velocities, which can help for air and missile defense. A 33-megajoule shot could reach extended ranges with Mach 5 velocity -- five times the speed of sound.
The Navy demonstrated a 10-megajoule shot in 2008.
The railgun is also beneficial because it could eliminate the need to carry a high-energy explosive warhead and traditional gun propellants. Obviously, reducing explosives and chemicals on board is not only safer, but simpler from a supply chain perspective.
Here's a video of the 2008 shot:
This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com