32-Megajoule Rail Gun

Like every other red-blooded American boy, I enjoy the notion of propelling a piece of lead at up to Mach 8 and at “extreme” ranges. That’s why I was glad to hear that BAE Systems has delivered a rail gun capable of such feats, and that the US Navy signed for the package

Picture 13-7

Not exactly a firearm but I won’t discriminate against any device that can hurl lead and twice the speed of a .204 Ruger 🙂

Mind you, the Navy isn’t like pissing its pants for joy that it gets to play with a 32-megajoule rail gun. This is America, after all. What the Navy really wants is a 64-megajoule rail gun. But since that might take 13 years and would require, yep, 6 million amps per shot, the Navy’s gonna have to quit bitching and enjoy the toys it has, at least for now

More @ Gizmodo



Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


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  • me

    32 megajoules? Hmm. I wonder how big it is. That sounds, if I understand it correctly, three or four times as powerful as the 120mm NATO standard tank gun.

    I wonder if it could be fit into a tank turret, or mounted in a tracked AFV like an old German PanzerJaeger. It sounds pretty fearsome in a direct-fire role. I’m imagining this thing could kill any tank in existence all the way out to the horizon. Or fire canister shot at Mach 8 for close support.

    Given that this is for the Navy, it may be that it’s vastly too big for any of that and it’s only possible to utilize it by bolting it to the deck of a warship. But I am enthusiastic about what this implies for the future.

  • The problem with these rail guns is the power they use. They cannot be used on anything but a ship with a huge power plant. That new destroyer the navy are developing, the DD(X), which is 100% electric, will use it by completely diverting all power from the engine to the gun.

    Like laser weaponry the problem is power.

    Another disadvantage is that the barrels have limited use, a lot less than current navel guns. Ships that use it will have to carrying replacement barrels.

  • Roy Rapoport

    I’m confused. Given that rail guns use by creating magnetic fields and propelling their payload, I was assuming the payload would be ferrous. Wouldn’t lead be entirely unmoved by rail guns?

  • Gerald

    Has nothing to do with moving the projectile with magnetic fields. Basically, there are two strips of metal (rails) that are squeezed together via a magnetic field. As they are sqeezed together, a projectile is propelled down the rails, like a bar of soap shoots from your hands when you sqeeze it too tightly. The effect is a massive velocity that vastly exceeds chemical propellants. The downsides are that the rails wear down very quickly due to the immense friction, and the immense power usage of the device.

  • Gerald

    Further, you are thinking of a Gauss gun, which the projectile must be magnetic. This is an entirely different (but also electrically powerd and magnetic) design then a rail gun.