If China is ahead deploying Railguns, electromag catapults and hypersonic weapons

China seems to have made a lot of progress making more practical electromagnetic catapults for aircraft carriers and such electromagnetic catapults could be scaled to launch large drones from smaller ships.

In a presentation at the PLAN University Rear Admiral Ma Weiming told Chinese experts in electromagnetic research that China had made breakthroughs in key areas of electromagnetic applications, such as railguns and electromagnetic-assisted launch system (EMALS) catapults.

Various photos now appear to show that China has installed a railgun onto a military ship. The size of the railgun appears competitive with the size of the 32-megajoule landbased railgun which the United States has been testing.

The US had considered installing a demonstration railgun onto its own Navy ship in 2006 but delayed the work. The US BAE railgun system is designed to fire 22-pound projectiles at Mach 7 speeds to more than 100 miles.

If China is making significant progress in these leading areas of emerging military technology, this will force the USA to revamp wasteful military spending and research. The United States had been actively researching railguns for over a decade and had been working on hypersonic missiles and engines for many decades. It is likely that China has closely followed and studied the US multi-decade long programs and copied or stole what the US was doing and created some innovations on their own.

The US has overpaid and wasted funds on many large weapons systems. The F35 stealth fighter program has used $122 billion and is taking $12-15 billion per year. Over half of the 360 F35s are not flying because they need repairs and are waiting for parts.

The electromagnetic catapult on the new US Ford supercarriers has had extensive reliability and performance problems. The new US carriers are overbudget and heading to $14+ billion for the first carrier.

The US has been very wasteful with military research and procurement. For the past several decades this has not been strategically significant because no other competing country was near the US level of military technology.

This situation has now changed.

The US military waste will cause the US to lose ground in high tech military technology.

SpaceX reusable rocket technology is a decade or two ahead of competitors. The US military and NASA could support SpaceX BFR rocket and leverage it for hypersonic weapons capability. Placing orbital systems to drop telephone pole-sized metal would enable hypersonic bombardment of targets. This would be capability that could neutralize North Korea’s weapons.

Other military electromagnetic advances from China

China claims to have successfully tested its first permanent magnet propulsion motor for vessels recently, according to the State-owned China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation (CSIC), which is known for manufacturing China’s first aircraft carrier and the Jiaolong submersible vessel.

The motor used in conventional submarines has the power of several megawatts, but he still cannot determine the exact power of the installed test model.

Permanent magnet propulsion motor technology can replace the reduction gears and significantly reduce the running sound to the lowest possible level, the expert said.

On the global scale, the permanent magnet motor will have the power to meet the needs of full electrical movement for nuclear submarines.

In July 2017, Chinese state media had reported that the China is fitting its newest nuclear sub with an electromagnetic engine that sounds a lot like Tom Clancy’s fictional Red October engine.

They had also reported that an electric rim driven shaftless submarine propulsion system was installed.

Rear Admiral Ma Weiming, China’s top naval engineer, is notably responsible for the development of multiple Chinese naval electromagnetic programs, including the electromagnetic catapult and railguns. He said the Chinese navy is adding a “shaftless” rim-driven pumpjet, a revolutionary and silent propulsion system to their newest attack submarine, the Type 095 SSN.

This electric drive is an attempt to leap beyond current submarine technology to technology with a long history of attempted development. This is similar to China making a stronger commitment to develop a submersible arsenal ship. China is taking technology and designs with decades of history and actually implementing them.

Previous submarine pumpjets are “shrouded propellers,” which consist of a tubular nozzle covering the propeller. By removing the shaft of the propeller, the reduction in the number of moving parts decreases the noise made by the pumpjet, as well as saving hull space. Smaller civilian rim driven electric pumpjets are easier to maintain, and have less cavitation (bubbles that form during propeller movement), which make them even more quiet.

CCTV13 had a “Focus on the interview” segment on May 30,2017. They discussed the of electric propulsion technology power of Admiral Ma Weiming. There was some discussion of the technology and spin about how China was moving beyond copying to attempt to create breakthroughs.The first few minutes of the video discussed telecommunication switching work of Zhang Ping.

Integrated Electrical Propulsion System (IEPS) turns all the output of the ship’s engine into electricity, unlike traditional propulsion designs, which convert engine and reactor output into mechanical action to turn the propeller shaft. The high electrical output can also be used to power motors for the propellers or potentially high-energy weapons. Additionally, IEPS has far fewer moving parts, making them quieter, and thus ideal for use on submarines. When coupled with quieter reactors like the Type 095’s reported natural circulation reactor, the rim-driven pumpjet and IEPS can drastically reduce the acoustic signature of any SSN.

Yamato-1 in 1991

Westinghouse, the leading U.S. advocate, gave up in the late 1960s — because the weight required to create a sufficiently powerful magnetic field would sink most ships.

In the early 1990s, Japan succeeded in making a 100 foot long 8 mph prototype surface ship called the Yamato. A group of Japanese physicists and naval architects quickly realized that the powerful magnetic coil made possible by superconductors could transform the MHD ship from old dream to new reality. Aconsortium of universities and major high-tech firms here committed about six years ago to forge ahead with a $40 million-plus project to build the propellerless MHD ship.

US and UK have tried to get electric drive to work but have not committed to it for their next generation submarines

The US Columbia submarine and UK Dreadought will not start construction for a few years and the first unit will be ready around the 2031. They have not decided to use electric drive and may choose more conventional propulsion systems.

The US and UK military and researchers have been working on electric drive propulsion tests for at least two decades. The RED-I motor used a wet gap permanent magnet motor to turn a ring of propeller blades. Two RED-I motors are mounted in free flood areas in the submarine mud tank, forward of the stern planes. The permanent magnet motor employed is large enough to permit a four feet diameter UUV to internally pass through the RED-I propulsor system in order to deploy from the stern of the submarine.

There has been general acceptance that there is potential benefit for quieter submarines using this technology but the US has opted for more conventional approaches for quieter submarines.

Potential modernization plans of the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) were revealed in unprecedented detail by a former rear admiral in a university lecture, perhaps delivered within the last 2-3 years. The admiral, retired Rear Admiral Zhao Dengping, revealed key programs such as: a new medium-size nuclear attack submarine; a small nuclear auxiliary engine for conventional submarines; ship-based use of anti-ship ballistic missiles (ASBMs); next-generation destroyer capabilities; and goals for PLAN Air Force modernization.

This information was from an article by Richard D. Fisher, Jr. at the Center for International Maritime Security.

Zhao is a former Director of the Equipment Department of the PLAN.

Admiral Zhao described a new unidentified 7,000-ton nuclear-powered attack submarine (SSN) that will feature a “new type of powerplant…new weapon system and electronic information system.” It has a sound isolation raft and propulsor which should reduce its acoustic signature, 12 cruise missile tubes in front of the sail, and a bow and sail similar to the current Type 093 SSN. The 7,000 ton weigh suggests it may reflect the lower-cost weight and capability balance seen in current U.S. and British SSNs.

This might be the rumored next generation Type 095 SSN. China plans to build 14 Type 095s.

Small Nuclear Powerplant for long duration AIP diesel submarines

There was a slide showing a new low power/low pressure auxiliary nuclear powerplant for electricity generation for fitting into conventional submarine designs, possibly succeeding the PLAN’s current Stirling engine-based air independent propulsion (AIP) systems.

The cost of typical AIP diesel submarines are 100 million USD to 250 million USD compared to 1 – 5 billion USD for typical nuclear submarines. There are large AIP diesel submarines that can be around 1 billion dollars.

AIP subs have submerged (AIP) endurance of 14-30 days, and total endurance of 45 to 90 days. .Nuclear subs typically have endurance submerged or not of 90-100 days, limited by the food storage for the crew. AIP submarines using no air have to use the less powerful non-air power source and engines which limits speed to about 4-5 knots.

A nuclear auxiliary power system for SSK-sized submarines would be an affordable conversion to an “all-nuclear” powered submarine fleet. While nuclear auxiliary powered submarines may not have the endurance of SSNs, their performance could exceed that of most AIP powered submarines while still being very cheap.

Admiral Zhao suggests that the PLAN is developing a new nuclear reactor-powered auxiliary power unit to charge the batteries of smaller and less expensive conventional submarines, allowing the PLAN to more rapidly increase its numbers of “nuclear” powered submarines. (CJDBY)

Zhao’s slides detailed hypersonic weapons and laser and microwave weapons.

Another slide with a future destroyer with integrated electric power system, full-spectrum stealthiness, integrated mast and integrated RF technology and new type laser/kinetic energy weapon appear to be China copying many of the US Zumwalt-class destroyer. The US only built three Zumwalt destroyers.

China is also developing stratospheric long-endurance UAV and a stratospheric airship.