This week I met someone who recently got to watch the Navy’s latest railgun test firing in person.
The flames are caused purely by friction with the air, not by any kind of explosive propellant. Yikes.
The projectile was traveling at 5,600 miles per hour (Mach 7). By contrast, a round fired by an average hunting rifle only travels at about 2,000 miles per hour. The railgun projectile was traveling at Mach 5 when it hit the target. The railgun has a accuracy range of about 220 miles - conventional naval weapons have only gotten us to around a tenth of that number.
The YouTube videos of the test firing are insane:
In other hitting-stuff-with-really-fast-stuff news, here’s the military video of the Navy missile blowing up the wayward spy satellite: