Photos Suggest China Might Have a Hypersonic Railgun

Megalith

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In contrast to the US, which has reportedly scrapped its efforts, China appears intent on making railguns a reality. New photos show a Chinese ship with what may be an electromagnetic railgun. Experts say that “there isn’t really a known defense mechanism against a railgun shot at high Mach numbers.”

In US testing, prototype hypersonic railguns shot projectiles up to 7,800 km/hr (4,850 mph) with an impressive range of up to 150 km (93 miles). But, after 10 years of development, the U.S. scrapped the project. They did this for a multitude of reasons, including the fact that these types of weapons are exceedingly difficult to apply in combat, especially on top of a ship.
 

Zareek

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Talk about an overreaction. There is no known defense for artillery shells either; you can harden stationary installations, install some armor but moving around and staying beyond range is your best defense. This type of weapon like any dumb weapon is about targeting and anticipating your targets next move. This is a cannon that fires with higher velocity rounds and doesn't use gunpowder as propellant not a super weapon that can win a war with one shot.
 

Teenyman45

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Talk about an overreaction. There is no known defense for artillery shells either; you can harden stationary installations, install some armor but moving around and staying beyond range is your best defense. This type of weapon like any dumb weapon is about targeting and anticipating your targets next move. This is a cannon that fires with higher velocity rounds and doesn't use gunpowder as propellant not a super weapon that can win a war with one shot.

No known defense? Maybe you just need to find somebody sufficiently skilled in badminton to return the volley...
 

Verado

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Talk about an overreaction. There is no known defense for artillery shells either; you can harden stationary installations, install some armor but moving around and staying beyond range is your best defense. This type of weapon like any dumb weapon is about targeting and anticipating your targets next move. This is a cannon that fires with higher velocity rounds and doesn't use gunpowder as propellant not a super weapon that can win a war with one shot.

So you are trying to say that a shell that moves 3 times as fast and has 3.5 times the range of traditional naval battleship shells isnt revolutionary?
 

MrDeaf

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Well, if I did my math right, a 7800km/h projectile, assuming it doesn't ever lose velocity, will travel 150km in 68.4s.

I don't know if such a projectile can travel along the curvature of the earth to reach its destination when the target is beyond the horizon.
 

pavementeater

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This is a prop it's not a Hypersonic Railgun i doubt is even a real weapon.
The weight of something this huge on the forward / bow of a ship alone if real would cause issues for stability and the forward part of the ship would be farther down into the water. Also if something that huge and power full would cause major issues with the class of ship they currently have this Hypersonic Railgun installed and mounted on.
 

Susquehannock

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Stroggs beware!

B185DD73BF1267BB99940D357E8896EF622523AE
 

Maxx

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This is a prop it's not a Hypersonic Railgun i doubt is even a real weapon.
The weight of something this huge on the forward / bow of a ship alone if real would cause issues for stability and the forward part of the ship would be farther down into the water. Also if something that huge and power full would cause major issues with the class of ship they currently have this Hypersonic Railgun installed and mounted on.

It's mounted on the cutting-edge Type 055 destroyer (of which there is only one functioning, I believe) and progress on it has been followed closely by U.S. military. However, you are correct in being critical.

Quote:
"If the warship is equipped with new-concept weapons, a whole dynamic electric power system commanded by computers will be introduced. Because launching new-concept weapons including laser weapons and electromagnetic guns requires enormous energy within a short period of time." (my two cents: you would never take the risk of testing a prototype weapon on the first in a new class of destroyer, and you would certainly not be extremely visible in doing so)
 
Last edited:

nomas

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Props and making your adversary guess what is real and what is a headfake are part of Sun Tzu's bag of recommended tricks. Inducing underestimation/overconfidence is also recommended.
 

pavementeater

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It's mounted on the cutting-edge Type 055 destroyer (of which there is only one functioning, I believe) and progress on it has been followed closely by U.S. military. However, you are correct in being critical.

Quote:
"If the warship is equipped with new-concept weapons, a whole dynamic electric power system commanded by computers will be introduced. Because launching new-concept weapons including laser weapons and electromagnetic guns requires enormous energy within a short period of time." (my two cents: you would never take the risk of testing a prototype weapon on the first in a new class of destroyer, and you would certainly not be extremely visible in doing so)

Interesting at first I thought the 055 destroyer too but then i looked at the Bow and the forward then noticed the area platform would be to small to be on the 055 also the 055 destroyer has guided missile in the front next where the EM gun is placed ,weight , heat , and the small platform area rule the 055 out for me so changed my thinking to China had it mounted on their 072-class landing ship. Which neither class of ship could truly operate a huge azz EM gun . Round storage , redesign area for coolant storage and all the weight they would have to redesign the whole ship for this weapon.
 

Revdarian

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i will believe it after it has fired let's say 5 test rounds.... because as we know the current problem isn't only the energy required but that no current known materials are able to withstand the stress of more than a couple shots.
 

sfsuphysics

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So this is the reason why republicans are so adamant in increasing military spending in the budget this year.
 

DejaWiz

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Military railguns are so last decade. Lasers are where it's at...
 

Nafensoriel

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Anything a laser or railgun can do.. a properly designed missile can do better and for less total investment.
 

Maxx

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changed my thinking to China had it mounted on their 072-class landing ship. Which neither class of ship could truly operate a huge azz EM gun . Round storage , redesign area for coolant storage and all the weight they would have to redesign the whole ship for this weapon.

Hmm, yeah, I think you're right, still does seem for show.
 

atarione

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we should invest in small autonomous warships capable of launching / resupplying various drones with smart weapons .. these should be built cheaply (i know I know ...military,..lol) and deployed in significant numbers to simply overwhelm any opponents.
 
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Current railgun technology is really of no use to the military, its too bulky and takes far too much energy to propel a shot.

If this was world war one, with fixed static defenses then yea i can see it being useful there, but todays wars are dynamic and something big and bulky that needs its own electricity sub station to work is more of a liability.

If they keep researching it and find ways to make it much smaller and use less energy then that would be a different story, but at the moment its more or less useless and todays missiles can do the same job.
 

WhoMe

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I always saw rail guns as something more useful in/from space. Shooting at fixed targets like a land based headquarters or construction depot (or a satellite on a fixed trajectory), and really only useful if it's cheaper than conventional weapons. Mounting one on a boat, that seems like a lot of ifs, if you can stabilize it and if it's cheaper than a conventional weapon, than yeah it might be useful for destroying fixed infrastructure or mobile stuff that won't get sufficient warning time to move out of the way.
 

Nanogrip

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USA: We've had this rail gun technology in development since the 70's.

China: Sangks foe de desine, we copy, now hav ouer own new LAIR GUN.
 

Chunder

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What can this do that a guided missile destroyer can't do better?

Not be intercepted by defenses and punching a hole in current armor technology. Or in shorter form: Sink any ship it targets. China has invested heavily into anti-access weaponry, this is just another aspect of their carrier killers if they solve the problem we gave up on.
 

SamuraiInBlack

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Well, if I did my math right, a 7800km/h projectile, assuming it doesn't ever lose velocity, will travel 150km in 68.4s.

I don't know if such a projectile can travel along the curvature of the earth to reach its destination when the target is beyond the horizon.

That would be one hell of a snipe.
 

nomas

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What can this do that a guided missile destroyer can't do better?

Cheaper ammo, more ammo onboard, and less fire hazard if the ship comes under attack. Faster speed to target reduces the target's evasive potential. If the railgun has the range, it can hit targets beyond the horizon. No line of sight required.
 

Nafensoriel

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Railgun ammunition is far from what anyone would call cheap. Any "gun" also has to account for the weapon components itself for costs. Unlike the movies when you fire a 50 cal all day you damn sure will be doing barrel changes. With something as high energy as a railgun just keeping the weapon itself in sustainable performance is expensive.

With the advance of computers and miniaturization missiles are always multimission and generally don't care about the weather or time of day. Any line of sight gun(like a railgun) is going to have situations where it just has zero functional use. Not to mention that it requires the entire ship be built around it. A missile only needs a simple launcher and in some cases a control radar/laser/wire. Things that can come in just about any shape and size and the exact same weapon system can thus be strapped to a 5ton, LAV, humvee, ship, technical, etc.

So really it boils down to military axioms. Is a single highly dangerous weapon as valuable as 50 slightly less effective but multimission weapons? Hell even the argument of being able to "one shot a carrier" becomes moot when the carrier can cover considerably more range with considerably more flexibility.

Better is the enemy of good. A railgun is better. A missile is good. Good now is a victory now.
 

Aireoth

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If they did guarantee it is more of a show peice. From why I remember if the railgun trials one of the largest problems is component wear, that kind of energy ended up requiring barrel replacement after a few shots and I think full replacement before a dozen.
 

DedEmbryonicCe11

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Cheaper ammo, more ammo onboard, and less fire hazard if the ship comes under attack. Faster speed to target reduces the target's evasive potential. If the railgun has the range, it can hit targets beyond the horizon. No line of sight required.
There's no way firing a railgun is cheaper than firing missiles. The US wouldn't have cancelled their program and they would have loads more test fires to show if it was a technology that could used repeatedly in a single engagement. Weren't their test firing videos like months/years apart?
 

Khahhblaab

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Talk about an overreaction. There is no known defense for artillery shells either; you can harden stationary installations, install some armor but moving around and staying beyond range is your best defense. This type of weapon like any dumb weapon is about targeting and anticipating your targets next move. This is a cannon that fires with higher velocity rounds and doesn't use gunpowder as propellant not a super weapon that can win a war with one shot.

I say let them make it. If actually understanding technology has any impact, they might make a faster bullet, but as soon as they put some explosives in it, it will surely explode upon firing. talk about collateral damage and friendly fire!

Let them take them out themselves. I cant imagine them being able to make a firing mechanism that can survive being shot out of a rail gun and still explode when it reaches the target.

FIRE: (Another one of them bites the dust because the firing-pin thought it hit something.)

N.Korean firing officer: Ah,Shi-bal, I think I will defect now.
 

atarione

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There's no way firing a railgun is cheaper than firing missiles. The US wouldn't have cancelled their program and they would have loads more test fires to show if it was a technology that could used repeatedly in a single engagement. Weren't their test firing videos like months/years apart?

china's whole economy is based on figuring out how to build stuff for $1.90 that use to cost $100 to build in America... perhaps they did figure it out?
 
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Well, if I did my math right, a 7800km/h projectile, assuming it doesn't ever lose velocity, will travel 150km in 68.4s.

I don't know if such a projectile can travel along the curvature of the earth to reach its destination when the target is beyond the horizon.
You do realize that WWII battleships could fire their main guns beyond the horizon? The biggest hurdle in making it that far is air resistance.

I also wouldn't be surprised if it was simply a mock-up. The Chinese are pretty good at making mock-ups to try and fool foreign intelligence agencies.
 

tangoseal

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Meh doesn't matter.. the Chinese Navy is super weak, its their ground army that is worrisome.
 

darrpara

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Between this and the Russian super drone nuclear submarine I feel like we are losing the psyops battle on two fronts..
 

aaronspink

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Well, if I did my math right, a 7800km/h projectile, assuming it doesn't ever lose velocity, will travel 150km in 68.4s.

I don't know if such a projectile can travel along the curvature of the earth to reach its destination when the target is beyond the horizon.

All hyper velocity projectile utilize an exoatmospheric flight profile to maintain velocity. When fired fully through low earth altitude they rapidly lose velocity (and possibly structural integrity) due to friction. For line of sight applications, they would still be effective with direct fire, but to reach out to 50+ miles, and maintain any significant energy, they need get out of the atmosphere as quickly as possible.

It is the same reason you don't see any sea skimming supersonic anti-ship missiles. Things like Brahmos race quickly to high altitudes and then dive on their target.
 

MrDeaf

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You do realize that WWII battleships could fire their main guns beyond the horizon? The biggest hurdle in making it that far is air resistance.

I also wouldn't be surprised if it was simply a mock-up. The Chinese are pretty good at making mock-ups to try and fool foreign intelligence agencies.

I do know that, but WW2 shells traveled at around around 762m/s - 1000m/s and could be lobbed over the horizon.

The railgun does 7800km/h (2167m/s) and what I'm not sure of, is if its trajectory is flatter than the curvature of earth
 

Brian_B

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I'd imagine it's trajectory with regard to gravity would be exactly the same as the WW2 shells, and bullets from a gun, and baseballs from a pitching mound - gravity being fairly consistent and all. But I'm not a physics or math guy to back that up.

Battleship cannons, Army artillary, hypersonic rounds, gun bullets - They all travel ballistically - they can certainly go beyond the horizon, and navies/armies have been pretty darn good at doing that for a while. Just a matter of calculating out the arc.
 
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