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China Just Blew The US Navy’s Electromagnetic Railgun Out Of The Water
While the United States spent years dithering over the future of its much-hyped electromagnetic railgun project, China ate its lunch. The Chinese navy plans to field its own secretive version of the electromagnetic railgun on naval vessels as early as 2025, according to a U.S. intelligence assessment first reported by CNBC.
China's interpretation of the long-theoretical supergun, which utilizes a massive amount of power to create electromagnetic fields to accelerate projectiles to hypersonic velocities, is reportedly capable of “striking a target 124 miles away at speeds of up to 1.6 miles per second," according to CNBC — fast enough to strike Philadelphia from New York in just under a minute.
If the U.S. intelligence assessment is accurate, this is a major strategic coup for the Chinese. Back in February, photos circulating on social media appeared to show a railgun-esque deck gun mounted on the bow of the Type 072III-class landing ship Haiyang Shan. The next month, a People's Liberation Army-run news outlet confirmed that the Chinese navy had achieved a “breakthrough" during sea trials for the new railgun.
The Chinese railgun was first developed in 2011 and then tested in 2014. Over the next three years, the supergun was calibrated for extended operational ranges. Meanwhile, the Office of Naval Research was still trying to figure out how to fire multi-shot salvos with its version of the railgun. Indeed, the U.S. intelligence assessment confirms that the Chinese supergun was first mounted on a naval vessel for at-sea trials even earlier than the PLA said, with initial tests underway as early as December 2017.
The December sea trials are some serious egg on the face of the Pentagon. As Task & Purpose reported around the time, the ONR electromagnetic railgun has been stuck in a research and development “valley of death" after more than a decade of development that cost $500 million. The reason? Shifting priorities within the Pentagon's Strategic Capabilities Office towards other directed energy projects — namely the hypervelocity projectile and solid-state lasers that offer more cost-effective alternatives to the pricey supergun — that left the prospect of future tactical demonstrations up in the air.
There is the possibility, of course, that the Chinese railgun is a paper tiger of sorts, a hoax designed to make the already-overstretched DoD antsy about its future in the Pacific amid growing tensions over artificial islands in the South China Sea. But even if the railgun ends up relegated to the function of shipboard missile defense rather than an offensive weapon, it's very existence is a shot across the bow to the United States when it comes to engineering next-generation weapons.
The War Zone's Joseph Trevithick sums it up perfectly in his analysis of the U.S. intel assessment. “If the PLAN's fleets actually include any significant number of railgun-equipped ships by 2025," he writes. “It is even more likely that the era of near total United States naval supremacy in any prospective conflict, especially in Pacific Region, will have come to a close."
The command chief of the 20th Fighter Wing at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, was removed from his position last month after his chain of command received evidence he disrespected his subordinates.
Editor's Note: The following is an op-ed. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Task & Purpose.
The "suck it up and drive on" mentality permeated our years in the U.S. military and often led us to delay getting both physical and mental health care. As veterans, we now understand that engaging in effective care enables us not just to survive but to thrive. Crucially, the path to mental wellness, like any serious journey, isn't accomplished in a day — and just because you need additional or recurring mental health care doesn't mean your initial treatment failed.
Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Free Liberty.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has called on the security alliance's allies to maintain and strengthen their "unity," saying the organization is "the only guarantor of European and transatlantic security."
Stoltenberg told reporters on November 19 that NATO "has only grown stronger over the last 70 years" despite "differences" among the allies on issues such as trade, climate, the Iran nuclear deal, and the situation in northeastern Syria.
He was speaking at the alliance's headquarters in Brussels on the eve of a NATO foreign ministers meeting aimed at finalizing preparations for next month's summit in London.
WASHINGTON — More than $35 million of the roughly $400 million in aid to Ukraine that President Donald Trump delayed, sparking the impeachment inquiry, has not been released to the country, according to a Pentagon spending document obtained by the Los Angeles Times.
Instead, the defense funding for Ukraine remains in U.S. accounts, according to the document. It's not clear why the money hasn't been released, and members of Congress are demanding answers.
The admiral in charge of Navy special operators will decide whether to revoke the tridents for Eddie Gallagher and other SEALs involved in the Navy's failed attempt to prosecute Gallagher for murder, a defense official said Tuesday.
The New York Times' David Philipps first reported on Tuesday that the Navy could revoke the SEAL tridents for Gallagher as well as his former platoon commander Lt. Jacob Portier and two other SEALs: Lt. Cmdr. Robert Breisch and Lt. Thomas MacNeil.
The four SEALs will soon receive a letter that they have to appear before a board that will consider whether their tridents should be revoked, a defense official told Task & Purpose on condition of anonymity.