US Navy funds rail guns

The US Navy’s Office of Naval Research (ONR) has awarded BAE Systems a US$21 million contract to develop an advanced Electromagnetic (EM) railgun.
The 30-month contract is for the detailed design and delivery of an Innovative Naval Prototype (INP) railgun.
“This EM railgun contract is a continuation of BAE Systems’ dedication to delivering advanced technology for tomorrow’s sailors,” said Jim Schoppenhorst, vice president of Navy Programs for BAE Systems in a company news release.

Under this contract, BAE Systems will develop advanced railgun technologies including a composite launcher (barrel) that will be demonstrated in 2011. BAE Systems is partnered with IAP Research, and SAIC to develop the Railgun.

ONR’s INP program is part of the Department of the Navy’s Science and Technology investments focused on developing new technologies to support Navy and Marine Corps warfighting needs.

Railguns use electrical energy instead of chemical energy to launch projectiles at hypersonic speeds that can provide range in excess of 200 nautical miles. As such they are seen as the future of naval ordnance.  
One of the greatest potential advantages of railguns are safety and logistics because they uses no explosives in firing or storage.