China's Betting the Future of Warfare on Railguns

Friday, 22 December 2017 - 10:16AM
Technology
Military Tech
No
Friday, 22 December 2017 - 10:16AM
China's Betting the Future of Warfare on Railguns
< >
Cover Image: U.S. Navy
Though they are undeniably awesome pieces of sci-fi tech, railguns have had some trouble making their way into real warfare—the US recently tested its own railgun system, but an announcement in late summer made it clear that the new gun would not be put into service (at least this year). On the other hand, the Chinese military seems to be investing heavily in new railgun tech, along with electromagnetic catapults for their carriers. According to Popular Science: While the technology has received great attention in United States military circles, China is the nation producing the most unclassified, peer-reviewed electromagnetic launch research in the world. It's the type of public science that suggests China could field a range of military electromagnetic technologies in the future.

To give a bit of background, a railgun is a device that accelerates a metal rod down a tube using magnets placed on either side, rather than gunpowder. The rods can reach hypersonic speeds when launched this way, giving them incredible destructive potential. Here's a short video that explains how they work:


In addition to new railgun tech, the Chinese navy is working on integrating electromagnetic-assisted launch systems, or EMALS, to help launch heavier aircraft from their carriers. Currently, the standard for launch systems consists of a steam-powered apparatus. Between new railguns and EMALS catapults, the Chinese navy seems to be building a new toolbox to help it deal with more advanced opponents. If you're interested in checking out more electromagnetic weapons, how about this Fallout-inspired coilgun, made by a fan using an old plastic pistol and some Altoids cases?
Science
Science News
Technology
Military Tech
China's Betting the Future of Warfare on Railguns
No
No