President Ronald Reagan’s fabled Star Wars program included faked demonstrations, designed to force the Russians to try to create their own wallet-draining space defense. Military historians will tell you there’s a long history of that sort of thing. When a general told Winston Churchill that the Germans had gotten wise to the Brit’s fake planes, once they spotted the wooden supports under the faux wings, Churchill instructed his general to put the struts under the wings of real planes. So is this revolutionary rail gun, allegedly capable of firing a projectile seven miles at Mach 8, for real? Careful: that’s a trick question. Make the jump for a shot of the actual gun, which uses more electricity in a femtosecond than Santa Barbara uses in a month. See? I made that up . . .
Oh, it’s real. US Navy (Office of Naval Research) has been working on this technology for years. It’s the largest surface warfare weapons engineering program currently in the Navy. The biggest hurdle will be to miniaturize the system to reduce its size, weight and shipboard power requirements.
Not only that, but NAVAIR (US Naval Air Systems Command) is replacing steam powered catapults on the next generation Ford-class aircraft carriers with electromagnetic cats; essentially rail guns for shooting warplanes off carrier decks.