WASHINGTON – China is developing an electromagnetic railgun to fire projectiles far faster and further than current gun barrels on ships and artillery, prompting what could become an electromagnetic arms race with the United States, according to a former Defense Department official who spoke with Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.
Former Pentagon technology security expert Peter Leitner told G2Bulletin that China’s development of a unique railgun will revolutionize close-in weapons systems, or CIWS, since researchers at the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation, or CASIC, have made a breakthrough in power generation and the wearing out of the barrel.
For example, China has a 30 millimeter Gatling cannon with 11 barrels that can fire up to 11,000 rounds a minute to shoot down 90 percent of incoming supersonic missiles.
However, it could be replaced by shipboard railguns to protect against future hypersonic threats to Chinese warships.
Until now, the U.S. has dominated in researching such technology and looks upon it as a key technology for 21st century warfighting.
While at the Defense Department, Leitner was involved in investigations of Western technology diversions by CASIC, whose 206 Institute researches electromagnetic launch technologies.
He said that electromagnetic railgun technology represents a “potential game-changing weapon of future wars.”
The technologies include electromagnetically launch-boosted missiles and the electromagnetic aircraft launch system, or EMALS, catapult system, which the Chinese intend to install in the construction of future aircraft carriers.
Such a force-multiplier will be significant as the U.S. military begins its eastward pivot to Asia and confronts China’s hindrance of free navigation in the East and South China Seas, over which China lays claim.
Unlike conventional weapons that use chemical explosives such a gunpowder, the railgun uses electromagnetic force to propel projectiles to hypersonic speeds, potentially up to ranges of several hundred miles.
A railgun’s barrel has two parallel conducting rails built into it.
The electric current passing through the rails then generates magnetic fields that propel the armament forward at high speed.
The shell detaches from the armature and is fired up to 100 miles at seven times the speed of sound.
By comparison, a Tomahawk cruise missile travels at 550 miles per hour, while the speed of naval artillery shell is 2,000 mph.
However, a missile shot from an electromagnetic railgun travels at 5,637 mph. At sea level, the speed of sound is approximately 762 mph.