China prepares for sea tests of railgun

In the web there were photos of the Chinese large landing ship “Haiyanshan” of the project Type 072-III with supposedly installed in its bow “railgun”. Western media report that the testing of a new gun can begin in the near future. If this is the case, then China will be the first country to install a weapon of this class on the ship and bring it to sea for testing.

Recall that the railgun is a weapon that uses electromagnetic forces to disperse a projectile. The design of the system implies that the projectile at the first stage of the shot is part of an electrical circuit that accelerates it between two contact rails (hence the name railgun). For a shot gun needs to supply high voltage and current, which can not provide a simple connection to the electrical network. Several countries are engaged in the development of technologies for this type of weapons. China, in turn, has been working on the railgun since the early 2000s, and on the whole, research in the field of electromagnetic weapons has been conducted by the country since the 1980s.

In open access, the first information on the creation and testing of new weapons by China appeared in 2005. Then it was a question of relatively compact laboratory samples, unsuitable for scaling and use in real conditions. At the end of last year, the Marine University of Engineering Sciences of the People’s Liberation Army of China announced the development of technologies that could be used to create the railgun. Specifically, it was a method of electromagnetic propulsion of shells. There were no other details on this subject.

Pretty dimensional, not on the scale of the ship, the gun, installed in its bow, is unlike any existing artillery ship system in China. It looks like a huge tower with a barrel, behind which three sea containers are mounted on the deck. Various sources report that, probably, a charging automaton is located in the tower, while in the containers there may be an energy system, generators and a weapon control system. Also, a new element appears on the superstructure of the landing ship, which may be a radar control station for fire.

The media also notes that, as a rule, China uses Type 909 / 909A project ships to test new weapons. In total, the Navy of the People’s Liberation Army of China has four such ships, each with a displacement of 4.5 thousand tons. It is possible that the gun was so large that its power plant simply can not provide the required amount of energy railgun, so it was decided to use the ship “Haiyangshan” with a displacement of 7 thousand tons.

It should also be recalled that even earlier military prototypes of the railgun were presented by the American company General Atomics, as well as British BAE Systems. Installation BAE Systems uses as metal projectiles metal kinetic blanks weighing 16 kilograms. The muzzle energy of the gun is 32 megajoules. The muzzle energy of the prototype installation of General Atomics is 1 megajoule higher. Last summer, the US Navy Research Department, in conjunction with BAE Systems, tested a railgun mounted at the Dahlgren training ground in Virginia. As part of the tests, the gun first fired two shots in a row.

To date, the development of railguns for the US Naval Research Administration has been frozen. Engineers and military decide the fate of the project, which now seems very vague. It is possible that the project will be completely stopped. The reason for this is the complexity of the gun, its high energy consumption, the relatively low resource of the railgun barrel, and the absence at the time of the fleet of ships suitable for installation and large-scale testing of the electromagnetic installation.

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