The Chinese navy is reportedly testing the planet’s most powerful coil gun – a type of electromagnetically powered weapon capable of launching projectiles with very high speed and accuracy.
In a firing test revealed to the public for the first time, the electromagnetic launcher accelerated a 124kg (273lbs) projectile to a speed of 700km/h (435mph) in less than 0.05 seconds, according to scientists involved in the project.
It was the heaviest known projectile to be used in a coil gun experiment. While the exact dimensions and maximum range of the weapon remains classified, a shell moving at such speeds could hit a target several kilometres away.
Coil guns are also known as Gauss guns or magnetic accelerators. The weapon features a series of coils arranged along the barrel of the gun, each one constituting a “stage”. Each coil is energised one after another to create a magnetic field that can levitate and propel a projectile forward.
The projectile typically stays suspended in the centre of the coil during launch, which helps to keep it on a straight course and prevent it from touching the wall of the barrel. It can be fired repeatedly and rapidly without causing wear on components.
Coil guns could revolutionise the way that wars are fought, allowing for faster, more accurate and devastating attacks on enemy targets. They could also launch missiles or send satellites into space.
The technology has been around for decades, but challenges in materials science and electronics have made it difficult to build large and powerful models.
One of the closest competitors to the Chinese coil gun, a 120mm-calibre electromagnetic coil mortar test device at the Sandia National Laboratories in the United States, can fire a projectile weighing 18kg. It is among the largest of these devices ever built.
Other systems around the world typically can fire projectiles weighing only a few grams and with a diameter of a few millimetres, according to a study published by Israeli scientists in the journal Scientific Reports in January.
The larger a coil gun, the better its ability to fire projectiles similar to those fired by traditional artillery. A standard 155mm artillery shell used by the US military weighs around 43kg, while Italy’s Indigo anti-aircraft defence missile weighs 120kg.
The coil gun has a number of advantages over traditional artillery, including higher launch speeds, lower launch costs and shorter preparation time, according to the Chinese team led by professor Guan Xiaocun with the Naval University of Engineering.
“It has the potential for revolutionary breakthroughs in terms of speed, range, power, accuracy, safety, flexibility and reliability,” Guan and his colleagues wrote in a paper published in the peer-reviewed journal Transactions of China Electrotechnical Society this month.
“It is widely applicable in areas such as weapon systems, near-Earth satellites and high-speed missile launches.”
Their 30-stage coil gun is still in the testing phase, and it is unclear when or if it will be deployed in the field. However, the Chinese military has been investing heavily in the technology in recent years.
“The Naval University of Engineering has overcome a series of difficulties” in building a large coil gun, said Ma Weiming, lead scientist of the Chinese military’s electromagnetic launch programme in a paper published in June.
Ma said the challenges included the design and manufacturing of large-calibre high-magnetic-density coils and compact pulsed power technology.
He added that China was developing an even more powerful coil gun capable of launching a projectile at a speed of 3,600km/h, which could push the weapon’s kill range to over 100km.
The rapid development of coil guns in China was in part due to a breakthrough in sensor technology, according to Guan’s team.
Coil guns generate a strong magnetic field when fired, which can interfere with electronic devices and sensors, so research on electromagnetic launchers typically requires measuring the projectile’s flight behaviour through external means.
However, Guan’s team came up with a new smart projectile equipped with sensors that are shielded from electromagnetic interference thanks to special materials, allowing them to collect high-quality data about projectile flight behaviour. This precise data from internal sensors can help scientists improve the efficiency and stability of coil guns.
I do agree that what this planet needs most are more weapons. Thanks China. - UP: 2
Wouldn't it be revolutionary if low earth orbit satellites can be launched by coil guns. - UP: 3
Can a leader or a country start seriously to save the planet. All these technology and engineering are going into warfare and AI. Just check the daily news. - UP: 2
I'm sure this is quite an accomplishment but I feel like complaining that I cannot find anything about India's successful moon landing. - UP: 2
@Jeff B. Jeff B, I found 5 x articles on India's historical south pole moon landing. One a video, another a historical & overall perspectives on moon landings, three are related news. - UP: 3
@Edwina L. Must be edition I have set up. Thanks for correction. - UP: 0
One thing is for sure, if we ever get attacked by an alien life form invasion, we got plenty of new and modernized weapons. - UP: 6
Hmm how about rail launched hypersonic glider? - UP: 1
America knows nothing and fears nothing but brute force equipped with destructive weapons. This is the reason theyre so desperate to get SK and JP onboard to do their bidding, so when it comes to real fighting, they can let others be cannon fodders. - UP: 11
If this will promote deterrence and peace, go on. But something "Made in China" I wonder what kind of quality it has? - UP: 2
@Cha J. Quality compares favorably to other Chinese devices, like iPhones. - UP: 11
与 iPhone 等其它中国设备相比，质量更好。
@Godfree R. iPhone is a Chinese device? Get real. - UP: 1
@James007 It is made in China by Chinese technicians using mostly Chinese parts.
The US cannot make such products at scale. - UP: 10
@Godfree R. Assembling a bunch of parts in China, developed and designed and many times mfg outside of China, does not make the iPhone a "Chinese device". - UP: 1
@Godfree R. Sure, Trained by America to operate on American and western machines and designed meticulously to microns tolerances in America. - UP: 1
@Cha J. This is 2023, not 1953. Jokes about the quality of Chinese-made good s are about twenty years behind times. - UP: 9
现在是 2023 年，不是 1953 年。 关于中国制造的商品质量的笑话已经落后时代20年了。
@Cha J. It'll likely be similar in quality as China's space equipment... the most important things is that such a weapon delivers the intended result most of the time, incremental refinements will make it even better over time. - UP: 3
@da**@****** Apple only provides its main contractor with the design concepts with no details in construction, materials selections, etc. All components selections, production processe, packaging, etc. are done by the local suppliers and subcontractors in China. The who supply chain management and manufacturing processes are Chinese innovation. If you could, visit a factory in China to see the blindness of ideology affecting the quality of comments. By the way, the quality of many Android smartphones are better or as good as iPhones. - UP: 7
苹果公司只向其主承包商提供设计概念，而不提供结构、材料选择等细节。所有零部件的选择、生产流程、包装等都由中国本地的供应商和分包商完成。供应链管理和生产流程都是中国的创新。如果可以，请到中国的工厂参观一下，看看意识形态的盲目性对质量的影响。顺便说一下，许多安卓智能手机的质量都比 iPhone 好，甚至不相上下。
@Cha J. One does not become the world's factory if quality is no good. - UP: 7
@Simon H. Really? Where is Gorilla Glass made? The display? A-series SoC? The camera? The acceleromter? Gyroscope? The wi-fi and audio chips? (many, many more examples)
By your logic, the ones that will be built in India will be Indian designed and produced? - UP: 2
@da**@****** Many of those you mentioned are made in china. - UP: 3
@Cha J. This is a low quality comment which is obsolete by at least 20 years, as Chinese products today are generally of superior quality sold throughout the world. For instance, you can read the Auto Reviews about the quality of China's Battery run EVs. Even Elon Musk praises the quality of Electrical Vehicles made by Tesla's Chinese rival manufacturers. China would make its key military weapons even more reliable. - UP: 5
这是一条低质量的评论，至少在 20 年前就已经过时了，因为今天的中国产品普遍质量上乘，畅销全球。例如，您可以阅读有关中国电池电动汽车质量的汽车评论。就连埃隆-马斯克也称赞特斯拉的中国竞争对手生产的电动汽车的质量。中国的关键军事武器会更加可靠。
@Simon H. Most I mentioned are not sourced from Chna. A couple I mention could be, but are from non-Chinese companies.
It's very clear you don't know what you're talking about here. - UP: 1
@Cha J. Well just go and dare them and you will know what the quality is, but you got only one try though ;) - UP: 7
@Descendant. One doesn't get that reputation if they always consistently produced high quality products. FYI, they just became the world factory because of Cheap Labor. - UP: 0
@Cha J. Or the reputation is due to outdated perception and media bias/smear? Plenty of countires with far cheaper labor but don't see anything close China. - UP: 0
So many guns, weapons and missiles China can test on the Americans, US better not try to invade and making troubles and test China patience. - UP: 13
You don't think that the Americans have a few of their own? They also have a military comprised of fighters who grew up firing and dodging bullets in the ghettos. The battlefield is like home for them .... been warring since before they were even teenagers. - UP: 2
@Mh K. We know they don't have a few of their own, because all of their tests have failed. 100% failure rate. - UP: 5
@Godfree R. Wow, didn't know you had access to classified US info.
Or...are you just guessing? - UP: 2
@da**@****** There is no need for guessing, its reported all over the news. At least for Hypersonic Glider Missiles, the US has failed 3 tests out of a total of 5 for the past 8 years. And today, the US still can not get its Hypersonic Glider Missile to aunch, while China has already moved on to produce the 2nd generation of HS weapons based on oblieque detonation technology that boosts the Missiles up to Mach 16, not at the final stage but throughout the flight. - UP: 3
没必要猜测，新闻上都有报道。至少在高超音速滑翔导弹方面，美国在过去 8 年里总共进行了 5 次测试，其中 3 次失败。而今天，美国仍无法发射其高超音速滑翔导弹，而中国已经开始生产第二代高超音速武器，该武器基于斜爆震技术，可将导弹提升至16马赫，不是在最后阶段，而是在整个飞行过程中。
@Robert P. I thought the article was about coil guns? Maybe his comment was wider, as in "many guns, weapons and missiles" but you comment "no, US doesn't. 100% failure rate"? Now you want to make the statement you're talking about one specific missile system. - UP: 1
@Anthony B. Fun fact: China has never defeated the US in any war or conflict in all of world history. - UP: 0
@Duck H. You mean: China never have started a war or with another country. The US have started wars and conflict in all of the world history. - UP: 2
@Lam O. Do you even know Chinese history? Korea, Vietnam (and arguably India) would all disagree with you. If you want to include Chinese history before the PRC, then there's literally too many wars started by China for me to list (comments have a 1500 word limit). - UP: 0
你了解中国历史吗？朝鲜、越南（可以说还有印度）都不同意你的观点。如果你想把中国之前的历史也算进去，那么由中国挑起的战争实在是太多了，我无法一一列举（评论有 1500 字的限制）。
PLA couldn't get the EMALS done yet but already talking about something else. At some point, it becomes a joke. - UP: 3
@James007 What are you talking about? It's been done - UP: 10
@Skar**@****** What exactly been done? Funny enough, you should perhaps learn what it takes to operationalize something. Imaginations are not one of them. - UP: 1
China has had EMALS 5 years ago. Today China's Shandong aircraft carrier operates Two onboard EMALS for quick launch of carrier aircrafts. Did you miss the news report? Or you just pretend innocence? - UP: 6
@Robert P. Fujian though - UP: 1
@Robert P. Can you post a single video of a Chinese fighter plane launched on any catapult from a real ship? Of course, not. - UP: 1
@Skar**@****** Not even fujian. :) Or post a link to a video Fujian launcing any aircraft by a catapult. - UP: 1
@James007 The carrier is under water test, PLA has not released the photos, but EMALS on Fujian carrier is reported all over the place by western media. . Just be patient, you will have plenty of photos in due time. - UP: 2
@James007 Their EMALS actually could achieve more than a thousand time success rate before it ecounters its first failure, something not achievable on the USS Gerald R. Ford. - UP: 5
Keep your adversary guessing, like Sun Tze would probably do... If it helps maintain the peace, then it's ok... - UP: 13
At the end of the day, is Chinese made toy and no one would take it seriously.... - UP: 5
@Micheal B. Good thinking, talk it loudly to US and West. - UP: 2
@Micheal B. Righhtt. You know China has nukes? - UP: 12
@Micheal B. Biden should take your advice and stop calling China an existential threat. - UP: 7
@Wayne B. And so is US, right? - UP: 1
@Cha J. No one was belittling the US' toys... and China does take them seriously and hence the Chinese advancements in its own toys. - UP: 4
@Cha J. Do the US has H-bombs? - UP: 1
Here they go again! Perhaps they just watched "The guns of Navarone" movie but missed the moral of the story. :) - UP: 2
@Jake C. Hint: Na zi Germany was still defeated. - UP: 1
@Jake C. Guns of Navarone was/is a self indulgence at a matinee. Any lessons there are for simpletons. - UP: 9
@Tg L. At least the movie has a semblance of mooring in history. it seems you would know something about simpletons, - UP: 1
@Jake C. Who fought the Germany the longest?. Who took out more of their assets? Who liberated the camps first? Who got to Berlin first? All the Soviets. Those are historical facts. That you don't know that shows who really is taught false history - UP: 2
Why is China so keen to advertise its technological and military research and acquisitions. No other country does? - UP: 6
@Yogesh G. Yes they do. Open your eyes. They all boast of their weaponry, especially dictatirshios, with their annual military parades which almost seem to be sending a message to their own people ' Don't even think about it....' - UP: 7
@Yogesh G. China is more transparent than others. - UP: 9
@Yogesh G. Deterence? Why do you think American are sailing their aircraft carriers all over the world when there are no signs of warfare? - UP: 10
@Yogesh G. So true. Like Mr Kim from North Korea does it as well. - UP: 3
@Albert L. Transparent in the wrong way - UP: 3
@Yogesh G. The news concerning Chinese military results/weapons are introduced by this websit, not published by state-owned website - UP: 9
@Trift A. If a country wants to fight real wars, then indeed keep it secretive... but disclosure is also deterence and it maintains the peace. - UP: 13
@Yogesh G. Lol! Foreign militaries have dedicated web pages to all things military - including weapons (used to have magazines before the internet) - UP: 1
@Yogesh G. Ummm ... Star Wars, Reagan, 1980's?
The US Defense budget up over a trillion dollars! The 45 million Americans living under the poverty line are now resorting to gang retail theft and the odd mass shooting. The US is going the way of the former USSR. - UP: 8
US rail guns are for land based deployment only, not yet reliable for sea based deployment yet. - UP: 2
Seng Chye S.
@Kkhz56nrpn Could the American Atomic powered submarine have met with one of these prototypes when it had to surface and limp back to Guam, while prowling the South China Sea? - UP: 2
This is the way. - UP: 8
@True origins The way to death and destruction. - UP: 2
Is it me, or is China bragging a lot about its military recently? US tends to be more secretive in comparison. - UP: 6
@Marco G. Before, theyre more of press releases but this one was publicly denonstrated. - UP: 4
@Marco G. The US has television channels dedicated to military 24/7. Secretive????? - UP: 6
@Marco G. Ummm ... F35 this, and F22 that, Space command, door-to-door weapons sales, promotions and pitches a-plenty. The US Defense Department wrote the book on bragging. - UP: 12
As a veteran deployed in Iraq during desert storm I thing USA will tremble because of this! They won't dare suggest separatism in Taiwan and Hong Kong anymore... America needs a reality check - UP: 15
@Lirc Library I think trembling are for those that haven't seen real action. - UP: 3
@Xiao C. 99% of American have not seen real action. - UP: 7
@Lirc Library Doesn't seem like you have been deployed? No offense. - UP: 5
@Lirc Library Lol. Of course you served and are a US veteran. Everyone who reads your post truely believes that. Thank you for your service lol. - UP: 4
Time for US to cry this technology was stolen from them, just like 5G - UP: 22
Kwai Meng T.
@James C. Do the Chinese really need to steal this technology? I am sure Chinese scientists know the Law of Physics. - UP: 5
@James C. Like gunpowder was a technology stolen from China? - UP: 3
This powerful weapon system will prevent America and its allies to invade China in the name of national security issue, Xinjiang lies, Tibet lies, genocide issues, human right issues and so on. In the past when China was weak, so many countries colonialized China, such as UK, France, Spain and Japan. A strong PLA will prevent it happen again. - UP: 35
@Felix J. Nobody wants to invade China. - UP: 8
@Felix J. Well said- UP: 0
When China reveals the testing to the public it means it has already been installed on their naval vessels ready for action. US has to factor this new toy in their computer war games. - UP: 28
Very impressive, but its short range gives it limited usage, for now. - UP: 11
0 This coil gun can be used to launch missiles . Currently a missile is launched with its own rocket firing and takes sometime for it to reach optimal speed. This coil gun can accelerate the whole process. It is like launching fighter jets on an aircraft carrier .The advantage is before the enemy can track and fire the anti missile the incoming missile is at the doorstep. - UP: 16
@Jeffrey T. Like Space mountain at Disney? - UP: 1
@Wayne B. Yes, and US is in the roller coaster with no idea where it is heading in the dark. - UP: 7