Navy Tests Incredible Sci-Fi Weapon








Navy Tests Incredible Sci-Fi Weapon


  SOUTHWEST ASIA — A B-1 Lancer banks left just before a rollover during an open house flyby here Jan. 16. More than 1,300 people enjoyed the


U.S. Air Force, Navy and Royal Marine-hosted open house that showcased various aircraft. Click to enlarge.


The U.S. Navy yesterday test fired an incredibly powerful new big gun designed to replace conventional weaponry aboard ships. Sci-fi fans will recognize its awesome power and futuristic technology

The big gun uses electromagnetic energy instead of explosive chemical propellants to fire a projectile farther and faster. The railgun, as it is called, will ultimately fire a projectile more than 230 miles (370 kilometers) with a muzzle velocity seven times the speed of sound (Mach 7) and a velocity of Mach 5 at impact.


The test-firing, captured on video, took place Jan. 31 in Dahlgren, Va., and Navy officials called it the "world’s most powerful electromagnetic railgun."

The Navy’s current MK 45 five-inch gun, by contrast, has a range of less than 23 miles (37 kilometers).

The railgun has been a featured weapon in many science fiction universes, such as the new "Battlestar Galactic" series. It has also achieved newfound popularity among the 20-something-and-under generation for its devastating ability to instantaneously shoot a "slug" through walls and through multiple enemies in video games such as the "Quake" series of first person shooters.

The Navy’s motivation? Simple destruction.

The railgun’s high-velocity projectile will destroy targets with sheer kinetic energy rather than with conventional explosives.

"I never ever want to see a Sailor or Marine in a fair fight. I always want them to have the advantage," said Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Gary Roughead. "We should never lose sight of always looking for the next big thing, always looking to make our capability better, more effective than what anyone else can put on the battlefield."

The railgun’s lack of explosives means ships would be safer, said Elizabeth D’Andrea, Electromagnetic Railgun Program Manager.

The Navy’s goal is to demonstrate a full-capability prototype by 2018.


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What is a Sonic Boom? Can I See One?

December 31, 2007

There’s something strange about the notion of seeing the sound barrier, as this Navy photograph suggests is the case. The sound barrier is just a certain velocity relative to the surrounding environment, not an actual membrane to be penetrated by a jet’s nose.

So what’s going on?


Off the coast of Pusan, South Korea, July 7, 1999 — An F/A-18 Hornet assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron One Five One (VFA-151) breaks the sound barrier in the skies over the Pacific Ocean. VFA-151 is deployed aboard USS Constellation (CVN 64). Click to enlarge.

The visual phenomenon in this picture is caused by a layer of water droplets trapped between two high-pressure surfaces of air. In humid conditions, condensation can gather in the trough between two crests of the sound waves produced by the jet. This effect does not necessarily coincide with the breaking of the sound barrier, although it can.

On October 14, 1947, U.S.A.F. Major Charles "Chuck" Yeager flew into aviation history by piloting a Bell XS-1 research plane to supersonic speeds. These days NASA is flying unmanned aircrafts at close to Mach 10 velocity.

The origins of the Mach number stretch back before humans ever took flight, to 1887, when Austrian physicist Ernst Mach established his principles of supersonics. His famous Mach number is the ratio of an object’s velocity to the velocity of sound, relative to the local environment. Sounds are waves of disturbance in the atmosphere and so their velocities depend on air temperature and pressure.

At sea-level pressure in 59-degree Fahrenheit air, sound travels 760 mph. Flying any faster is a noisy enterprise. When moving at subsonic speeds (Mach number < 1), an aircraft’s pressure disturbances (i.e. sound waves) are generally distributed in all directions.

But on breaking the sound barrier the pressure field of the aircraft extends from the rear of the plane in a Mach cone—a shock wave that builds and causes a sonic boom.


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