The most powerful cannon in the US arsenal looks like something straight out of science fiction.
Meet the Blitzer railgun by General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems. Using nothing more than electromagnetism for propulsion, the Blitzer can fire a 23 lb projectile over 100 miles at a speed greater than Mach 7.
“The electromagnetic railgun represents an incredible new offensive capability for the U.S. Navy,” said Rear Adm. Bryant Fuller in a press release statement. “This capability will allow us to effectively counter a wide range of threats at a relatively low cost, while keeping our ships and sailors safer by removing the need to carry as many high-explosive weapons.”
The incredible weapon can be operated by a single sailor. Each projectile costs around $25,000, which is marginal when compared to the six figure price tag of missiles with a similar range.
While the Navy has talked about using railguns for more than a decade, the weapon is still under development with more than $250 million set aside for continued research in 2017 alone. Earlier this year General Atomics made improvements to the two-way data link between the projectile and the ground station.
“We’re continuing to test at an impressive pace, building on the successes over the past year to advance both our Blitzer railgun systems and hypersonic projectile capabilities,” said Nick Bucci, vice president of Missile Defense and Space Systems at General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems, in an interview with New Atlas. “We are on track to conduct another series of tests using the Blitzer 10 MJ railgun system later this year. With each new firing, we continue maturing the technologies and performing risk reduction toward a multi-mission railgun weapon system that supports future operation on land and at sea.”
Watch the video below to see the rail gun in action.