The US Navy has just completed a 10-megajoule test fire of their huge rail gun. For the first time ever, they fired a projectile with a velocity of 8,270 feet per second. That's an amazing 5,640 mph, and the gun is only firing at a third of its potential power. The other video shows you what the projectile looks like when loaded.
The Navy is researching rail guns because they would weigh less than conventional ones, and since they rely on electromagnetics to fire rounds, you wouldn't need a big, dangerous pile of explosives stored in a magazine. All of that means a lighter ship, and a much more deadly ship: a combat-ready rail gun would be able to fire Mach 5 projectiles over 200 miles with pinpoint accuracy, hitting 5 meter targets.
Yesterday's test firing at the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division used just some of the potential 32-megajoules the laboratory test gun is capable of, and that's only half the 64-megajoules the Navy is aiming at for the final weapon. Expect even more dramatic videos, sometime soon. [Navy Times and Danger Room]