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Originally published April 22 2014

U.S. Navy unveils railgun that can launch low-cost projectiles at Mach 7 with range of 100 miles

by J. D. Heyes

(NaturalNews) Highly destructive weapons that were once the subject of science fiction movies are fast becoming reality in today's high-tech world, and that's not necessarily a good thing for the survival of Mankind.

One of the technologies that the U.S. Defense Department has been working to develop, along with the militaries of a few other great powers, is laser weaponry; currently, the U.S. is leading that race with defensive systems mostly aimed at knocking out incoming ballistic missiles like the Army's THEL -- Tactical High-Energy Laser -- and systems that have been developed and deployed on U.S. Navy warships.

'It's not science fiction'

Speaking of the Navy, one of its signature accomplishments is the railgun, which the service plans to formally unveil at the San Diego Naval Base in July. According to published accounts, the Navy plans to hold a static display of its $500 million electromagnetic railgun prototype aboard the Joint High Speed Vessel Millinocket, the same ship on which the Navy will perform its first maritime test-firing of the weapon in 2016.

"The American public has never seen it," said Rear Adm. Matthew Klunder, chief of naval research, in a recent telephone press conference.

"Frankly, we think it might be the right time for them to know what we've been doing behind closed doors in a Star Wars fashion," he added. "It's now reality. It's not science fiction. It's real and you can look at it."

According to published information, railguns use an electromagnetic force, called the Lorentz force, to launch a projectile between a pair of rails. A high-power electric pulse is sent to the rails, where a magnetic field is then generated. The result is that a 23-pound projectile can be hurled at speeds as high as Mach 7 over a distance of up to 100 miles. Navy bean counters will like it because each projectile is relatively cheap at about $25,000, or a fraction of the cost of a conventional missile, said Klunder.

The Navy has been excitedly developing its railgun concept for a number of years. The first prototype program was launched in 2005, and between then and 2011, the service spent some $250 million on continued development. Navy officials say they will likely spend a similar amount between 2012 and 2017.

Klunder called the weapon a game-changer whose time has nearly arrived.

Efficient killing is best

Currently, the Navy has two prototypes; it will test one of them in 2016 on the USNS Millinocket -- a noncombatant catamaran vessel that is intended to carry cargo and troops -- because it has a broad flight deck with plenty of space for the weapon, which consists of the gun mount itself, power supply and three additional major pieces. The following year, the Navy will begin studying how best to integrate it into the fleet.

"I really think it will give our adversaries a huge moment of pause to go, 'Do I even want to go engage a naval ship?' Because you are going to lose. You can throw anything at us, and the fact that we can shoot a number of these rounds at very affordable costs -- it's my opinion that they don't win," Klunder said.

Currently, Navy destroyers and cruisers -- the primary surface combatants -- carry between 96 and 122 vertical firing tubes for launching Tomahawk and other cruise missiles. By comparison, each railgun would likely be accompanied by hundreds of the smaller projectiles.

Efficient killing, it seems, has become a prerequisite these days, thanks to a growing mountain of spiraling debt caused by a bloated Big Government with a voracious, insatiable appetite.

What's next -- humanoid military robots? Actually, yes:

Yesterday's sci-fi is today's killing reality.


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