China Fired A Smart Bomb Into Stratosphere At Mach 5 Speed – And Then Everything Went Wrong

In an attempt to achieve significant altitude and speed, China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) recently tested a new smart bomb-launching electromagnetic rail gun. Nevertheless, problems surfaced during the test, necessitating more investigation and advancement to deal with the difficulties.

The bomb was successfully fired in the test at speeds more than Mach 5 to a height of nine miles (15 km). However, the bomb went off course due to problems with projectile stability, underscoring the need for improvement. The Naval Engineering University team, under the direction of Lu Junyong, found rotational instability to be a significant cause of the deviation.

Lu’s team used artificial intelligence (AI) technologies to identify the root cause of the issue and suggest workarounds for the technical difficulty. According to an analysis of mechanical sensor data, the projectile performed at a high speed, with acceleration exceeding hypervelocity criteria.

During the test, rotational speed latching—a phenomenon specific to railguns—became problematic despite satisfactory wind tunnel and computer modelling. This unanticipated problem calls for additional study and development to maximise railgun performance.

The research team proposed adjustments to address rotational instability, including increasing initial rotation speed and refining the projectile’s tail rudder angle to suppress resonance. These solutions aim to enhance projectile stability and trajectory accuracy during and after launch.

The test before August 2023 demonstrates China’s resolve to improve its naval capabilities despite technological difficulties. China’s quest for cutting-edge military technology is reflected in the iterative testing and improvement required to achieve the consistent performance of the rail gun and smart bomb system.

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