The U.S. Navy has spent half a billion dollars working to perfect a new type of projectile weapons technology that could be used in current and future naval ships. That gun is the railgun, which has always sounded like something out of a video game or science fiction. Unfortunately, it looks as though the project is possibly going to be scrapped after all the money and time was put into the research and development of the weapon.
The strange part is that the weapon isn't possibly being scrapped because it doesn’t work; the railgun works quite well. The beast can toss a projectile down range travelling at 4,800 mph for distances of up to 100 miles. The problem so far is that the high-tech weapon can’t fire those projectiles fast enough.
Reports indicate that the Pentagon wants a weapon system able to fire at a rate of 10 rounds per minute, however, the rail gun is currently only able to fire 4.8 rounds per minute. Possibly putting the final nail in the coffin of the rail gun, at last for now, is the HVP or hyper velocity projectile. This weapon takes the fancy projectile developed for the railgun and uses it instead in the existing 5-inch guns already on naval warships.
The HVP gives up a lot in the range and velocity game to the railgun, HVP can fire the projectile at Mach 3, which is about half the velocity the rail gin delivers. HVP can toss that projectile for 30 miles, about one third the range of the railgun. The big feather in the cap for the HVP is the fact that it is a weapon system that can be delivered much faster than the railgun.
The 5-inch guns are already on ships in the fleet. Those facts mean that the railgun could be dead by 2019 according to reports. For now, the faster and less costly alternative is HVP and it's looking better to the Pentagon.