NORFOLK, Va. (AP) - Navy officials say they're getting closer to one day equipping warships with an electromagnetic railgun that could allow ships to fire a projectile at targets up to 100 nautical miles away.
Standard 5-inch guns found aboard destroyers typically only have a range of 13 nautical miles. Navy researchers have been developing a gun that fires projectiles using electricity instead of chemical propellants since 2005. On Tuesday, the Navy said that testing on an industry-built prototype began at a military facility in Dahlgren, Va., earlier this month.
Navy researchers say the weapon's high-velocity and extended range would allow ships to provide long-range fire support for landing Marines, self-defense against cruise and ballistic missiles and also target enemy ships.
The Navy anticipates having the weapon ready for an acquisition program by 2017.