An experimental electromagnetic rail gun (EMRG) was successfully test-fired by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) at the Naval Surface Warfare Center lab at Dahlgren, Virginia, in late January. The gun launched a seven-pound aluminum projectile at 5,550 miles per hour, sending it across a 72-foot test course in 10 milliseconds.
Navy officials say if development is successful, the gun eventually could be fielded on board surface combatants for long-range naval fire support for Marine Corps and Army units ashore. They add, though, that an operational EMRG won't be available until around 2020 at the earliest. The gun could go on board next-generation surface combatants in the 2020-2025 timeframe and be backfitted to operational ships.
The rail gun is an ONR "Innovative Naval Prototype" initiative, one of several highrisk, high-reward projects that could provide war-winning capabilities if successfully transitioned to Fleet operators.