SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) – The Navy is showing off its latest weaponry – guns that use an electromagnetic force.
The railguns fire at greater rangers and are less expensive to operate. It can shoot a projectile at Mach 7 -- that's about 5,300 miles an hour. This would fly from New York to Washington DC in about 6 minutes.
The Navy calls it a game changer, a gun that uses short bursts of electromagnetic energy instead of gun powder. To fire projectiles so fast, the target disintegrates on impact.
"It can shoot down ballistic missiles. It can shoot down very advanced cruise missiles. It can shoot down fast moving aircraft. It can shoot down fast moving ships. It can even support soldiers and Marines at 100 miles on shore," Rear Adm. Matt Klunder said.
The Navy calls it effective and affordable. The projectiles -- which have navigational electronics inside them -- cost about $25,000 each. A single cruise missile can easily top $1.5 million.
"We want the American public to know now that we have a gun system that frankly will be so effective and affordable that now our adversaries will know… they'll know before they even try to do something to our nation, that they'll never win," Klunder said.
Which makes you wonder if our enemies are in the process of building this too, but Klunder is confident they don't have the technology.
"There's quite a bit of secret sauce in these gun systems in the development. We've protected that," he said.
Right now the projectiles are loaded by hand one at a time, but eventually the system will be automated, with the ability to fire about 10 times a minute. And because the projectiles are so small, there's no fear of running out in the heat of battle.
"I can store hundreds and hundreds of these projectiles on our ships. I can defend our ships. I can defend our nation. It's extremely safe, and it's extremely effective," Klunder said.
So far, all the railgun tests have been done on land. The Navy plans to try its first test on a ship in 2016, and if all goes well, they hope to start using it for real in 2018.