China may be testing a ship-mounted electromagnetic railgun.
Leaked photos posted on Twitter last week have revealed what appears to be the massive, hypersonic weapon atop a People’s Liberation Army Navy tank landing ship.
While the United States has spent millions of dollars and the better part of a decade working to develop a railgun, recent reports suggest the efforts may have been scrapped.
If China truly is testing a ship-mounted railgun, the move would make it the first to develop a superweapon of this kind.
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China may be testing a ship-mounted electromagnetic railgun. Leaked photos posted on Twitter last week have revealed what appears to be the massive, hypersonic weapon atop a People’s Liberation Army Navy tank landing ship
Railguns have long been touted as one of the future technologies of warfare, with the ability to launch projectiles at Mach 6 – or, more than 4,500 miles per hour.
Because the missile is fired using kinetic energy this eliminates the risks associated with keeping explosives on a ship.
It has been described by the United States Navy as a ‘true warfighter game changer.’
The photos shared by Twitter user Dafeng Cao show what appears to be a railgun atop the Haiyang Shan ship, according to Ars Technica.
As stated by the social media post, which the Twitter user claims is a translation of an analysis from ‘the most well-known former PLAN officer,’ the EM gun is a ‘formal project approved by PLAN,’ with a 5-6 year timeline.
The photos suggest it is on schedule for its test aboard the ship, the post notes.
If China truly is testing a ship-mounted railgun, the move would make it the first to develop a superweapon of this kind. The photos were shared by Twitter user Dafeng Cao
the United States Navy’s own plans for a railgun recently ran into a roadblock after roughly a decade of work – and more than $500 million.
A report from Task & Purpose late last year claimed the project may not get the funding it needs to become a reality.
Instead, it says the funds for the project are likely to be funnelled away to other systems, such as laser weapons.
HOW DOES THE RAILGUN REACH SUCH HIGH SPEEDS?
Railguns use electricity instead of gunpowder to accelerate a projectile at six or seven times the speed of sound.
Using an electromagnetic force known as the Lorenz Force, the gun accelerates a projectile between two rails that conduct electricity, before launching it at ferocious speed.
The technology uses electromagnets to send its projectiles hurtling off at thousands of miles per hour. The force generated can be adjusted, depending on the range of the target
This means the railgun can fire further than conventional guns and maintain enough kinetic energy to inflict tremendous damage.
Tests have shown that the weapons can fire a shell weighing 10kg at up to 5,400mph over 100 miles – with such force and accuracy it penetrates three concrete walls or six half-inch thick steel plates.
The video below shows tests of BAE’s model.
The EMRG has been described as ‘Star Wars technology’ by researchers, as the powerful missiles don’t rely on chemical propellants.
Instead, they are fueled by electricity alone.
Strong magnetic fields are created by electricity on the ship and a ‘pulse power system’ to sent propellants flying at Mach 6, or 4,500mph.
‘Wide-area coverage and exceptionally quick response will extend the reach and lethality of ships armed with this technology,’ the Office of Naval Research has explained in the past.
‘A future weapon system at this energy level would be capable of launching a 100+ nautical mile projectile’.