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Navy begins test of railgun launcher prototype at Dahlgren.
Engineers at NSWC Dahlgren Division are in the midst of a monthlong series of tests of the railgun prototype.
JOHN F. WILLIAMS/U.S. NAVY
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Ellis said the Navy received about $240 million in funding for the initial phase of the project, and about the same amount would carry the work through 2017.
A video of one of six recent test shots from the BAE Systems launcher shows a technician loading an aluminum test slug in the launcher. That is followed by a bright flash of light at the muzzle, with the projectile emerging in a plume of fire as it exits the chamber and punches through a nearby target.
Tests began at a level of 20 megajoules; the power will eventually be ramped up to 32--the level at which the gun would operate under real-world conditions.
BAE Systems, a national defense contractor with an office in Stafford County, was awarded a $21 million contract last year to develop the launcher prototype.
The first test shot was in 2006 at Dahlgren, followed by a 10.6-megajoule shot in 2008, and the record shot in 2010.
NSWC Dahlgren Division is the largest tenant command of the Naval Support Facility Dahlgren.
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According to the Navy, the railgun concept was born in 1864 when James Clark Maxwell developed electromagnetic field theory.
In the waning days of World War II,
A 2008 test shot of a prototype at Dahlgren set a world record of 10 megajoules. That was eclipsed by a 32 megajoule shot in December 2010.