By David Ponce
The thing about gunpowder is that:
1) It takes up quite a bit of space. Space that could otherwise be used up by yet more ammo.
2) It’s darn messy, loud and inelegant.
Why, it would make a lot more sense for projectiles to be accelerated to lethal speed by electromagnetic finesse, rather than by the same chemical bruteness that’s been in use for hundreds of years. No? Well, now the Office of Naval Research (ONR) and the Naval Special Warfare Center-Dahlgren have awarded a combined $14.7 million to BAE Systems to develop a 32 megajoule (MJ) Laboratory Launcher. Thirty-two megajoule is equivalent to a firing speed of Mach 8 or eight times the speed of sound. The ultimate goal is to have a 64-MegaJoule Tactical System capable of deployment on-board naval surface combatant ships.
If you’re still in the dark about electromagnetic railguns, read up. The skinny is: more ammo, less mess, more accuracy.