July 7, 2006 The United States Navy has awarded two contracts for the development of an electro-magnetic gun system capable of deployment on board naval surface combatant ships. The development work preliminary design for an Electro-Magnetic (EM) railgun prototype and the preliminary design of the U.S Navy's 32 megajoule (MJ) Laboratory Launcher. An electro-magnetic railgun uses electrical energy to accelerate projectiles to extreme velocities. Railguns do not require powders or explosives to fire the round and therefore free magazine space for other mission areas. In addition, electro-magnetic guns provide a highly consistent and uniform explosive charge that gives much greater accuracy. Thirty-two megajoule is equivalent to a firing speed of Mach 8 or eight times the speed of sound. This will be an intermediate step on the road to a 64-MJ Tactical System capable of deployment on-board naval surface combatant ships.