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China’s hybrid supersonic weapon flies like a missile and swims like a torpedo



China is developing technology that goes beyond the bleeding edge and most of their latest weapons are hybrid mixtures of forms and formats which should put their enemies on alert.


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After announcements about the development of hypersonic drone swarms as well as 20,000 ton ships that submerge, and in the eternal race for military one up manship this week Chinese researchers announced they are developing a boron-powered supersonic missile that will be able to travel further and faster than any conventional torpedo and if it sounds odd that we’re flipping from using the word missile to the word torpedo then that’s the point of the latest project.


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The boron missile would offer supersonic speed, range in the air, and super cavitating approach speeds underwater for devastating anti-ship capabilities. I’ve talked about super cavitation tech before, a technology that reduces the water based drag on things such as boats, submarines, torpedoes, and other water borne assets and lets then travel at supersonic speeds above and below the water by wrapping them in a layer of bubbles – air – which has over a thousand times less drag.

A research team from the college of aerospace science and engineering at the National University of Defence Technology in Changsha, Hunan province, has unveiled a blueprint for the supersonic missile in a peer-reviewed journal of Solid Rocket Technology. According to South China Morning Post (SCMP), the 5-meter long anti-ship missile will be able to cruise at 2.5 times the speed of sound at about 10,000 meters (32,800 feet) for distances up to 200 km (124 miles). It would then dive and skim across the waves for up to 20 km (12.4 miles) to avoid detection.


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When the target is within the range of up to 10 km (6.2 miles), the missile will go into torpedo mode and travel underwater at up to 100 m/sec (200 knots) using super-cavitation – the formation of a giant air bubble around it in the water which significantly reduces drag. And if you think you’ve heard about super fast 200 knot torpedoes then you have because Russia unveiled one a while ago which then begs the question: Are Russia and China collaborating? And they probably are, especially as we see “speed” as being the new “killer app” in defence with the rise of hypersonic weapons and direct energy or laser weapons.

Researchers also claim that the anti-ship missile will be capable of changing its course or crash diving to a depth of up to 100 meters (330 feet) to evade underwater defense systems without losing momentum. Researchers are confident that no existing ship defense system was designed to handle such a fast cross-media attack.


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In the missiles case it would produce considerable thrust while breathing in either air or water due to a supersonic ramjet engine running on solid fuel rods containing around 60% boron. Boron is a light element that reacts violently when exposed to both, releasing a huge amount of heat, and it has been used extensively in propulsion fuels, from jet fuel additives to solid nanotube fuels for hypersonic propulsion systems.

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