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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 Navy is investigating reports that a female Marine discovered a hidden camera in one of the women's restrooms aboard the USS Arlington, an amphibious transport dock that's currently on at port in Greece, NBC News originally reported.
Today, an American service member died in a "non-combat incident" in Ninawa Province, Iraq according to a statement by Operation Inherent Resolve, the U.S.-led coalition fighting the Islamic State.
"I held one [sailor] in my hands as he passed. He died in my arms."
It's been 30 years since an explosion inside the number two gun turret on the USS Iowa killed 47 American sailors, but for Mike Carr, it still feels like yesterday.
"I knew all 47 guys inside that turret because as part of the ship's policy we had rotated between all three turrets," Carr, who served as a gunner's mate in the Iowa's aft 16-inch turret, told Task & Purpose. "We all knew each other rather intimately."
On April 19, 1989, the day of the blast, the ship was preparing for live-fire training at Vieques, Puerto Rico Naval Training Range.
Carr was wearing headphones that allowed him to hear what the crews in the other turrets were saying.
"At 10 minutes to 10 a.m., somebody came over the phones and said, 'We're having a problem, Turret 2, center gun,'" Carr recalled. "Then approximately two minutes later, I recognized Senior Chief [Reginald] Ziegler, who was the chief in charge of Turret 2, yell into the phones: 'Fire, fire, fire! Fire in center gun, turret 2. Trying to contain it.'"
Then came the blast, which was so strong that it ripped the headphones right off Carr's head.
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As a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and a newly minted second lieutenant, I felt well-prepared to tackle the challenges facing a junior field artillery officer in the U.S. Army. When the time came to leave the Army, however, I was much less prepared to make the transition into the yet-unknown civilian sector.
One of the primary issues facing veterans after we transition is that we lack the same sense of purpose and mission that we had with our military careers. Today, more than ever, our service members volunteer to put themselves in harm's way. They are defending our freedom across the globe and should be recognized as our country's true heroes. It's critical that employers educate veterans and provide viable options so we can make informed decisions about the rest of our lives.
The two-star general in charge of the roughly 15,000-strong 2nd Marine Division has turned micromanagement into an art form with a new policy letter ordering his Marines and sailors to cut their hair, shave their faces, and adhere to a daily schedule that he has prescribed.
In his "Policy Letter 5-19," Maj. Gen. David Furness lamented that he has noticed "a significant decline in the basic discipline" of troops he's come in contact with in the division area, which has led him to "FIX IT immediately," instead of relying on the thousands of commissioned and non-commissioned officers below him to carry out his orders.