If war is the continuation of politics by other means, General Atomics’ 3-megajoule Blitzer electromagnetic railgun is a serious new political instrument.
The railgun is essentially an artillery piece that uses electromagnetic fields, rather than more conventional chemical propellants, to launch projectiles at hypersonic speeds far in excess of what typical ordnance can achieve.
At the U.S. Army’s annual Maneuver and Fires Integration Experiment (MFIX), the Blitzer railgun performed successfully during eleven test firings. The test projectiles contained a Guidance Electronics Unit (GEU), which beamed back telemetry indicating the shells achieved an acceleration of over 30,000 gravities, and that all components survived the multi-Tesla magnetic field that powers the launcher.
“We continue to perform risk reduction and technology maturation of projectile designs and components to culminate in an integrated demonstration of a maneuvering railgun launched projectile,” says Nick Bucci, vice president of Missile Defense and Space Systems at General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems.
The next step is to integrate the system into a mobile, truck-based platform.