This one kills with speed
London: A lethal new weapon that can fire a shell at seven times the speed of sound has been successfully tested on land.
Described as ‘Star Wars technology’ by researchers, such a device has belonged solely to the world of science fiction for decades. But now it is close to a reality with sea trials on a US warship planned in two years.
Using electromagnetic energy, the gun can fire a shell weighing 10kg at up to 5,400mph over 100 miles – with such force and accuracy it penetrates three concrete walls or six half-inch thick steel plates. Two prototypes of the weapon have been developed for the US Navy — one by British arms manufacturer BAE Systems and the second by a US firm.
Rear Admiral Matthew Klunder, head of US Naval Research, said the futuristic electromagnetic railgun — so called because it fires from two parallel rails — had already undergone extensive testing on land. It will be mounted on high-speed vessel the USNS Millinocket for sea trials in 2016. Electromagnetic launchers were one of the areas researched by Ronald Reagan’s Strategic Defence Initiative, nicknamed ‘Star Wars’ after the science fiction film franchise.
Warships can carry dozens of conventional missiles, which cost around R6 cr each, but could be loaded with hundreds of railgun projectiles, at only R15 lakh each.