This is the dummy's guide to the rail gun

Designed to double the muzzle velocity of all naval artillery weapons to hypersonic speeds up to Mach 6, the Navy’s rail gun system uses advanced technology that is a pain in the ass to understand — until now.

Militarized rail guns use electromagnetism to propel a conductive armature housing which launches a weaponized projectile downrange.

The two parallel rods — considered the weapon’s barrel — are connected to a power source which sends an electrical current through the rails generating a powerful magnetic field.

The simultaneous currents that run through the rails produce a magnetic field called the “Lorentz Force.” The term refers to the force which is applied by a magnetic field on a traveling electrical charge.

That’s what we call clean power. (Images via Giphy)

Related: The Navy is developing rail gun rounds for Army Howitzers

The Lorentz Force is responsible for pushing the projectile through the gun’s barrel and launching it toward its target. The advantage of using the Lorentz Force is the higher the barrel is raised, the better the muzzle velocity.

Although the calculation to construct and operate the rail gun is exceptionally complicated, just generating enough power to use the weapon is exceptionally difficult.

Rail-gun

The formula for the Lorentz Force. Looks like a foreign language. (Source: Real Engineering)

Once the rail gun generates enough power from its source, the force of firing the weapon becomes so intense it actively tears itself apart. The heat it produces is known to melt the gun’s railing system little-by-little.

Boom! (Images via Giphy)
Due to the intense electrical heating, the projectiles flakes off a small discharge as a result of the massive current and friction that runs through the rails. The expelled shells melt and shed during flight.

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Each time the gun is fired, the explosive force damages the weapon causing it to limit its shelf life before needed significant repairs. For now, the rail gun is in testing until a solution of further stabilizing the weapon can be found.

Until then, take a slow motion look at the weapon’s freakishly strong power as rips through its target with easy.

In super-duper slow motion. (Images via Giphy)
Check out Real Engineering‘s video below to see the rail gun’s complete breakdown for yourself.

Real Engineering, YouTube