In a groundbreaking revelation, Chinese scientists have identified a new kinetic energy weapon with the potential to annihilate advanced US tanks with a single shot, despite minimal visible external damage. The research, conducted by Huang Jie and his team at the China Aerodynamics Research and Development Centre’s Hypervelocity Aerodynamic Institute, sheds light on the vulnerability of traditional military hardware in the face of emerging weapons technology.
The study reveals that a 20kg solid sphere, hurtling towards its target at four times the speed of sound, carries approximately 25 megajoules of kinetic energy. While this may seem relatively modest in terms of electrical energy conversion, the impact on tanks manufactured to stringent US military standards is catastrophic. The team’s simulations demonstrated that even though the tank may appear unharmed externally, critical internal components, such as bolts connecting vital equipment to the inner cabin wall, could fracture, rendering the tank inoperable.
Published in the peer-reviewed journal Equipment Environmental Engineering on December 8, the findings highlight the fragility of traditional military armor when confronted with high-speed kinetic projectiles. The research institute, situated in Mianyang, Sichuan province, is at the forefront of developing hypersonic weapons, capable of traveling at speeds exceeding Mach 5. The researchers noted that under high-speed kinetic projectile impact, certain locations in the armored target exceeded safety limits recommended by the US military standard MIL-STD-810. This surpassing of safety limits increased the probability of component failure due to overload damage.
The emergence of kinetic energy weapons challenges conventional anti-tank technologies that rely on gunpowder explosions. Unlike traditional methods, high-speed kinetic projectiles can achieve lethal damage even upon grazing contact, providing a potential advantage in diverse scenarios.
While the specifics of the impact on tank crews were not discussed in the study, a separate simulation by Dalian University of Technology suggested severe consequences for crew members if hit by a hypersonic kinetic projectile. This revelation underscores the transformative potential of such weaponry and raises questions about the future landscape of warfare as countries like China explore broader applications of this cutting-edge technology.