Report on Navy Laser, Railgun and Gun-Launched Guided Projectiles


April 7, 2020 10:12 AM

The following is the April 2, 2020, Congressional Research Service report, Navy Lasers, Railgun, and Gun-Launched Guided Projectile: Background and Issues for Congress.

Three new ship-based weapons being developed by the Navy—solid state lasers (SSLs), the electromagnetic railgun (EMRG), and the gun-launched guided projectile (GLGP), also known as the hypervelocity projectile (HVP)—could substantially improve the ability of Navy surface ships to defend themselves against surface craft, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), and eventually anti-ship cruise missiles (ASCMs).

The Navy has been developing SSLs for several years, and in 2014 installed on a Navy ship its first prototype SSL capable of countering surface craft and UAVs. The Navy since then has been developing and installing additional SSL prototypes with improved capability for countering surface craft and UAVs. Higher-power SSLs being developed by the Navy are to have a capability for countering ASCMs. Current Navy efforts to develop SSLs include

  • the Solid State Laser Technology Maturation (SSL-TM) effort;

  • the Optical Dazzling Interdictor, Navy (ODIN);

  • the Surface Navy Laser Weapon System (SNLWS) Increment 1, also known as the high-energy laser with

  • integrated optical dazzler and surveillance (HELIOS); and

  • the High Energy Laser Counter-ASCM Program (HELCAP).

The first three efforts above are included in what the Navy calls the Navy Laser Family of Systems (NFLoS) effort. NFLOS and HELCAP, along with technologies developed by other parts of DOD, are to support the development of future, more capable shipboard lasers.

The Navy has been developing EMRG for several years. It was originally conceived as a naval surface fire support (NSFS) weapon for supporting Marines and other friendly forces ashore. Subsequently, it was determined that ERGM could also be used for air and missile defense, which strengthened Navy interest in ERGM development. The Navy is continuing development work on ERGM, but it is unclear when production-model ERGMs will be installed on Navy ships.

As the Navy was developing EMRG, it realized that the guided projectile being developed for EMRG could also be fired from powder guns, including 5-inch guns on Navy cruisers and destroyers and 155 mm artillery guns operated by the Army and Marine Corps. When fired from powder guns, the projectile does not fly as quickly as it does when fired from an ERGM, but it still flies quickly enough to be of use as an air-defense weapon. The concept of firing the projectile from powder guns is referred to as GLGP and HVP. One potential advantage of HVP/GLGP is that, once developed, it can be rapidly deployed on Navy cruisers and destroyers and in Army and Marine Corps artillery units, because the powder guns in question already exist.

In addition to the question of whether to approve, reject, or modify the Navy’s FY2021 funding requests for SSLs, ERGM, and HVP/GLGP, issues for Congress include the following:

  • whether the Navy is moving too quickly, too slowly, or at about the right speed in its efforts to develop these weapons;

  • the Navy’s plans for transitioning these weapons from development to procurement and fielding of production models aboard Navy ships; and

  • whether Navy the Navy’s shipbuilding plans include ships with appropriate amounts of space, weight, electrical power, and cooling capacity to accommodate these weapons.

Source: USNI News “Report on Navy Laser, Railgun and Gun-Launched Guided Projectiles”

Note: This is USNI News’ article I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the article’s views.


China Displays Its High-altitude Fast Reconnaissance Drone like SR-71


WZ-8 regarded as rival to US SR-71. Photo from CCTV footage.

China displays its advanced new weapons at its National Day military parade yesterday.

Defenseworld.net says in its report “New Dagger Shaped High-altitude Reconnaissance Drone Debuts at China’s National Day Parade” that according to Wu Jian, editor of Defense Weekly under Shanghai-based Xinmin Evening News, the drone can effectively gather intelligence in real time in a controllable way.

It says that Wu is of the opinion that a satellite can conduct reconnaissance only when it is above the target so that the enemy may be alerted of the drone’s intention to guide missile to attack the target.

Mil.huanqiu.com, on the other hand says in its report “Annalyses of Equipment: They are the weightiest stars of this massive military parade” that according to Taiwan media, WZ-8 flies at supersonic speed and that it matches US SR-71 in functions and design.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on defenseworld.net and mil.huanqiu.com’s reports, full text can respectively be viewed at https://www.defenseworld.net/news/25594/New_Dagger_Shaped_High_altitude_Reconnaissance_Drone_Debuts_at_China___s_National_Day_Parade#.XZPrpW5uKvt and https://mil.huanqiu.com/article/7Qq0K2E50Tm.


China Develops Lots of Advanced Weapons in 2018


In its report “Another blowout year: Review of homegrown new types of weapon, equipment in 2018” on December 28, mil.huanqiu.com presents the following new weapons China developed in 2018:

China Is the First to Test an Electromagnetic Rail Gun on Warship

Rail gun is very powerful due to the high speed of gun shot. The US is the first to test such a gun on ground without much success. China, though a late commer, has been testing the gun on a warship.

DF-26 Missiles Fully Commissioned

DF-26 is China’s new generation of intermediate ballistic missiles very powerful in hitting ground and surface targets. In 2018, it has passed the tests of trial installation and operation and combats. Now some rocket force units are entirely installed and operating such missiles.

Incessant News about B-20 Bomber

On May 8, 2018, the outline sketch of a new-type long-range bomber emerges in the major promotion film “Large Nation Takes Off” issued by the aviation industry. Outsiders speculate that the bomber is China’s new-type B-20 bomber, about which there had been lots of rumors.

Later CCTV’s documentary “Permanent Soul of the Army” also mentions “great progress obtained in the research and development of the new type long-range strategic bomber H-20”. It enhanced outsiders’ speculation.

Fourth Sea Test of China’s Homegrown Aircraft Carrier

After the three sea tests of the carrier on May 13, August 26 and October 28, China’s homegrown aircraft carrier began its fourth sea test on December 27.

The frequent sea tests indicate smooth progress of the tests and there is the speculation that the carrier will soon be commissioned.

Maiden Sea Test of China’s 10,000-ton Class Type 055 Destroyer

The test attracts keen interest among Western media and military analysts as Type 055 destroyer is bigger and more advanced than those of the US, Japan, South Dorea.

Shocking Display of J-10B with Thrust Vector Engines

On November 6, J-10Bs displayed highly difficult maneuvers such as Cobra and leaves floating maneuvering enabled by their thrust vector engines.

The show indicates China’s mastery of thrust vector technology.

Y-20 Transport Aircraft Modified as Refueling Tanker

In the past China lacks aerial refueling tanker due to insufficient production of IL-78s to satisfy its demand for large transport aircrafts. As China is able to make large transport aircrafts Y-20 itself now, it is able to modify Y-20 for aerial refueling. That has greatly increased the range of Chinese warplanes.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on mil.huanqiu.com’s report, full text of which in Chinese can be viewed at http://mil.huanqiu.com/world/2018-12/13916315.html.


PLA unveils new weapons for air and sea combat following Hague tribunal ruling


China's DF-16 ballistic missiles displayed at September military parade last year. Photo from SCMP report

China’s DF-16 ballistic missiles displayed at September military parade last year. Photo from SCMP report

Fan Changlong visits troops. Photo from SCMP report

Fan Changlong visits troops. Photo from SCMP report

Rare disclosure of arsenal seen as warning to US not to provoke military confrontation

The Southern Theatre Command of the People’s Liberation Army unveiled a series of new weapons for sea and air combat during a visit by top military officers.

In a rare revelation, the weapons were shown on state television in the wake of a landmark international tribunal rejecting Beijing’s claims to almost all of the South China Sea.

Military experts said the disclosure was intended to show that the newly formed Southern Theatre Command, which covers the South China Sea, was well-prepared for any potential military confrontation with the US.

In an inspection tour after the ruling, General Fan Changlong, vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission, which oversees the PLA, called on troops to train hard to meet any challenges, Xinhua reported on Tuesday.

“Air and sea patrols should be tightly organised to handle all kinds of emergencies to ensure security of sea and air borders,” said Fan, who was accompanied by General Ma Xiaotian, commander of the PLA Air Force, and General Wei Fenghe, chief of the army’s Rocket Force, which operates the country’s missile arsenal.

Beijing-based naval expert Li Jie said Fan’s visit indicated that the southern command could carry out joint combat operations of land, rocket, naval and air forces as well as other strategic support forces.

“All the weapons showed on state media are defensive arms of short to medium range within 1,500km, meaning China so far is using restrained deterrence to warn the US not to challenge Beijing’s bottom line in the South China Sea,” Li said.

State broadcaster CCTV showed footage of troops in the southern theatre handling the DF-16 missile, which has a range up to 1,000km. The missile, which was first displayed on September 3 in a military parade to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of the second world war, could strike US military bases in Okinawa.

Earlier reports said the southern theatre was equipped with DF-21Ds, or “carrier-killer” anti-ship ballistic missiles, which have a range of 1,450km.

The CCTV footage also showed new H-6K bombers. A division of the jets has been deployed to the southern theatre to patrol Scarborough Shoal.

Source: SCMP “PLA unveils new weapons for air and sea combat following Hague tribunal ruling”