That is a beautiful gun! Just look at that shiny, high-caliber chamber with the built-in pair of rails, the mass of electric coils at the back-end and all those shiny nuts and bolts.
Well, that is all we may get to see for a while because the US Senate cut the funding for the Electromagnetic Railgun and Free Elecrron Laser projects of the ONR (Office of Naval Research). For the railgun enthusiasts visiting this blog, here is a link to a video of the railgun in action.
I had posted two other video links here in an April 21, 2011 entry. A similar device designed for launching airplanes from an aircraft carrier, namely the General Atomics’ electromagnetic aircraft launch system (EMALS) was written about on March 26, 2011 here. The EMALS program is still hanging on as of this writing.
Both of the above, the railgun and the laser have one big shortcoming. The power supply system required to power them on board the ships are still non-existent or “in development”.
In December 2010, the Navy tested the railgun (see videos above) which launched a 23 lbs projectile expending a massive 33 MJ (megajoules of energy. This was achieved only with large capacitor banks. The laser has been tested using upto 1 MW of power.
The US economic crisis has claimed another victim. Please read the rest of the story at the link above. I fully understand that this project is an extravagance, only slightly improving on what conventional weapons can do but at an exorbitant cost. But, in the olden days of budget surpluses, ONR would have managed to secure enough funding. After all, who doesn’t like big guns and lasers?