Thanks to the British Daily Mail we have the latest news on the American Navy rail gun experimental apparatus. A gadget, a laboratory device that now for the 1,000th time has successfully fired a projectile, not using conventional chemical propellants to do so but relying upon "the effects of a strong magnetic field" - - achieving incredible and hitherto unimaginable velocities previously unobtainable!
"U.S. Navy fires the railgun that can shoot a missile 100 miles at eight times the speed the sound for the 1,000th time"
"The U.S. Navy has hit a major milestone with the 1,000th firing of its electromagnetic railgun."
"Commanders said the milestone means that the incredible state of the art weapon has moved closer to actual deployment on warships."
"It can accelerate a seven pound projectile to a speed of 5,600 miles." [the kinetic energy of such a round when fired has to be just immense!]
"Navy officials said that the range of a railgun is up to 20 times greater than that of conventional weapon systems."
"The aim is to potentially replace extremely expensive Tomahawk missiles."
The touted performance of the device, the apparatus, the lab bench experiment so far very impressive. A way off from a deploy-able system as of this moment. But the course has been set and progress has been made that seems to indicate that the future of surface naval warfare will include the rail gun?
I would have to assume that any projectile as fired from a deployed rail gun must possess a fancy and accurate system so as to be able to engage successfully those way OVER THE HORIZON [OTH] targets! Embedded GPS and some sort of electro-optical laser terminal guidance of very sophisticated design and able to withstand the extreme forces of acceleration!
And from a comment to the Daily Mail article we find that the eminent science-fiction writer Robert Heinlein is the originator of the rail gun concept? Robert with Isaac Asimov and L. Sprague de Camp employed at the Philadelphia Naval Yard during World War Two. Engaging in wartime weapons development and experimentation, a collaboration of minds and ideas of the most of the most profound nature?
"Robert A. Heinlein is believed to be the first science fiction author to write about the railgun."
Today science-fiction, tomorrow reality?