Electromagnetic launchers were one of the areas researched by Ronald Reagan’s Strategic Defence Initiative, nicknamed ‘Star Wars’ after the science fiction film franchise.
Rail guns use electricity instead of gunpowder to accelerate a projectile at six or seven times the speed of sound — creating enough kinetic energy to destroy targets.
Admiral Pete Fanta, the Navy’s director of surface warfare, has floated the idea of foregoing the current plan to put a prototype on another vessel this year and instead put it directly on future USS Lyndon B. Johnson – though no final decision has been made.
‘The Zumwalt-class is one of a number of options being explored for the electromagnetic railgun,’ said Lt. Cmdr. Hayley Sims, a Navy spokeswoman.
‘Due to the size, weight and power requirements, some platforms will be better suited for the technology than others.’