The U.S. Navy pulled the plug, for now, on a futuristic weapon that fires projectiles at up to seven times the speed of sound using electricity.
The Navy spent more than a decade developing the electromagnetic railgun and once considered putting them on the stealthy new Zumwalt-class destroyers built at Maine’s Bath Iron Works.
But the Defense Department is turning its attention to hypersonic missiles to keep up with China and Russia, and the Navy cut funding for railgun research from its latest budget proposal.
The Navy’s decision to pause research at year’s end frees up resources for hypersonic missiles, directed-energy systems like lasers and electronic warfare systems, said Lt. Courtney Callaghan, a Navy spokesperson.
Information gleaned during testing will be retained in the event the Office of Naval Research wants to pick up where it left off in the future, she said.
All told, the Navy spent about $500 million on research and development, according to Bryan Clark, an analyst at the Hudson Institute.
The technology was close to making the leap from science fiction to reality in the 21st century with the testing of prototypes.