0 $
2,500 $
5,000 $
2,697 $

Chinese Ship With Electromagnetic Railgun Starts Sea Trials – Reports

Support SouthFront

Chinese Ship With Electromagnetic Railgun Starts Sea Trials - Reports

Click to see the full-size image

A Chinese Type 072II-class landing ship armed with a large electromagnetic railgun (ER) mounted on it was sighted and photographed on its way to open sea, according to a report by the Task & Purpose on December 29th.

The picture most certainly shows the Haiyang Shan ship, the same Type 072II-class landing ship that was spotted in January 2018 docked at the Wuchang shipyard in China’s central Hubei province, the largest of the People’s Liberation Army Navy’s inland shipyards and a major production hub for the country’s conventional submarines.

The Chinese railgun was first developed in 2011, first tested in 2014 and there was little information regarding it. But, in February 2018, a Chinese outlet reported that the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) website had confirmed that a “breakthrough” had been achieved during sea trials. Furthermore, in June, a US intelligence assessment suggested that the ER underwent trials even earlier than the Chinese side admitted, as early as December 2017.

The same assessment estimated that the PLA is planning to field its superweapon on naval vessels in 2025, far ahead of the Pentagon’s slow and budget-lacking efforts. But, the photos released on December 29th show that it appears that the PLA is working far ahead of the presumed schedule.

This would amount to a “strategic coup” for Beijing against the US, which is attempting to catch up with Chinese advances in hyper-velocity projectile technology.

Dr. Thomas Beutner of the US Office of Naval Research’s Naval Air Warfare and Weapons Department said the railgun and directed-energy weapons “are the future of maritime superiority” in 2017, according to a report in the US Department of The Navy’s Information Technology Magazine.

The US has spent hundreds of millions on its own ER since the mid-2000s but little progress appears to have been made. The Strategic Capabilities Office (SCO) reportedly stifled funding of the weapon. Instead, it has pushed for diverting resources to the Hyper Velocity Projectile program, which places a focus on developing cheaper, low-drag projectiles that could be fired from an ER, or perhaps from other gun systems.

“We thought railguns were something we were really going to go after, but it turns out that powder guns firing the same hypervelocity projectiles gets you almost as much as you would get out of the electromagnetic railgun, but it’s something we can do much faster,” Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work told Congress in May 2017.

The National Defense Authorization Act included an additional $20 million for innovative Naval Prototypes Advanced Technology Development (0603801N) explicitly to accelerate the development of a shipboard tactical demonstrator. Furthermore, an additional $20 million allocated in the 2019 NDAA for the Army’s distinct railgun efforts.

“With China and Russia challenging our technological superiority, we cannot just play defense,” said Rep. Jim Langevin of the defense budget back in May 2018. “Instead, we must promote and accelerate the adoption of game-changing technologies including hypersonics, directed energy, and applications of artificial intelligence.”

In terms of technical data regarding the Chinese railgun. There is little known, Task & Purpose provided a summary in February 2018, regarding its supposed specifications:

  • It appears that work on the ship was being carried out at a port that usually installed twin 37mm guns;
  • “The gun barrel itself suggests a capability far beyond conventional projectile or powder cannons in service among China’s existing fleet, let alone any modern navy. “No other existing weapon or known planned system matches the size of the gun’s massive cupola nor the extremely fat profile of its barrel,” Tyler Rogoway observes at The War Zone. “The closest some could find was the Type 055 destroyer’s H/PJ38 130mm deck gun or the PLZ05 155mm self-propelled howitzer’s gun system, but neither of these are anywhere near the scale as [this] system.”
  • The large enclosure in particular most resembles the assembly of the Office of Naval Research’s current prototype railgun;

The race for the electromagnetic railgun is still not over. However, China appears to be far ahead of the US. This, combined with the US also apparently falling behind in terms of hypersonic technology allows some sources to speculate that there may be an incoming change in the global military balance.

Support SouthFront


Do you like this content? Consider helping us!