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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 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.
‘It’s Lt. Col. Vindman’ — Active-duty witness in Trump impeachment inquiry sharply corrects congressman
Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman made sure to take the time to correct a Congressman on Tuesday while testifying before Congress, requesting that he be addressed by his officer rank and not "Mr."
'What happens after that is out of their control' — Former military leaders and lawyers react to Trump's war crimes pardons
On Friday, President Donald Trump intervened in the cases of three U.S. service members accused of war crimes, granting pardons to two Army soldiers accused of murder in Afghanistan and restoring the rank of a Navy SEAL found guilty of wrongdoing in Iraq.
While the statements coming out of the Pentagon regarding Trump's actions have been understandably measured, comments from former military leaders and other knowledgable veterans help paint a picture as to why the president's Friday actions are so controversial.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. aircraft carrier strike group Abraham Lincoln sailed through the vital Strait of Hormuz on Tuesday, U.S. officials told Reuters, amid simmering tensions between Iran and the United States.
Tensions in the Gulf have risen since attacks on oil tankers this summer, including off the coast of the United Arab Emirates, and a major assault on energy facilities in Saudi Arabia. Washington has blamed Iran, which has denied being behind the attacks on global energy infrastructure.
Iran continues to support the Taliban to counter U.S. influence in Afghanistan, a recent Defense Intelligence Agency report on Iran's military power says.
Iran's other goals in Afghanistan include combating ISIS-Khorasan and increasing its influence in any government that is formed as part of a political reconciliation of the warring sides, according to the report, which the Pentagon released on Tuesday.