China has a railgun, but it doesn't seem useful in combat - We Are The Mighty
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China has a railgun, but it doesn’t seem useful in combat

China claims it’s winning the race to bring long-range superguns to its growing fleet, but experts say that even if these weapons work, they won’t make a difference in high-end conflict.

China announced it will “soon” be arming its warships with railguns, a technology which uses electromagnetic energy rather than explosive charges to fire rounds farther than conventional guns and at seven or eight times the speed of sound. The US Navy has spent more than a decade pursuing this technology, but naval affairs experts contend that even the best railguns have huge problems that make them a poor substitute for existing capabilities.


“You are better off spending that money on missiles and vertical launch system cells than you are on a railgun,” Bryan Clark, a defense expert and former US Navy officer, told Business Insider.

The Chinese navy made headlines when images of a Chinese ship equipped with a suspected railgun first surfaced in January 2018. Photos showed the vessel, initially nicknamed the “Yangtze River Monster,” docked on the Yangtze River at a shipyard in Wuhan. That same ship — the Type 072III Yuting-class tank-landing ship “Haiyang Shan” — reappeared in late December 2018, having possibly set sail for sea trials.

“This is one of a number of interesting developments that indicates that the [People’s Liberation Army] is quite enthusiastic about emerging capabilities,” Elsa Kania, an expert on the Chinese armed forces at the Center for a New American Security, told Business Insider.

The Chinese PLA is actively looking at the military applications of cutting-edge technology, including artificial intelligence and quantum computing. China actually launched the first quantum communication satellite, which is said to be unhackable. For the Chinese navy, this means research into electromagnetic railguns, among other capabilities.

China says it has made major ‘breakthroughs’ with railguns

“Chinese warships will ‘soon’ be equipped with world-leading electromagnetic railguns, as breakthroughs have been made … in multiple sectors,” China’s Global Times reported recently, citing state broadcaster CCTV. The notoriously nationalist tabloid proudly asserted that “China’s naval electromagnetic weapon and equipment have surpassed other countries and become a world leader.”

China is expected to begin fielding warship-mounted electromagnetic railguns with the ability to fire high-speed projectiles as early as 2025, CNBC reported in summer 2018, citing US defense sources with direct knowledge of the latest intelligence reports on China’s railgun development.

Chinese military experts expect the new Type 055 stealth destroyers to eventually be armed with electromagnetic railguns.

‘It’s not useful military technology’

While conventional guns rely on gunpowder to propel projectiles forward, railguns use electromagnetic force to hurl projectiles at targets downrange at incredible speeds.

China is not the first country to take an interest in railgun technology. The US Navy took a serious look at the possibility of arming warships with the gun, which promised the ability to strike targets as far as 200 miles away with relatively inexpensive rounds traveling at hypersonic speeds.

During the development process, the US military discovered problems that make the gun more of a hassle than an asset.

“The engineering challenges that the US is seeing with railguns are fundamental to the technology,” Clark, a defense expert at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA), told BI. “Any railgun is going to have these problems.”

While still cheaper than a missile, the rounds are more expensive than previously expected, as they require more advanced guidance systems to ensure that a simple GPS jammer doesn’t render them inoperable.

The rounds are more powerful than standard 5″ gun projectiles, but still lack the destructive power of missiles, making them less effective in strike missions. Missiles are also able to can chase down targets.

Even if each railgun shot packs a punch, its limited rate of fire — maybe eight rounds per minute — means it has little use for air and missile defense against fast-moving targets.

Maintenance and electricity generation are also huge problems. The gun requires an enormous amount of power to fire and the shear force of firing hypervelocity projectiles tends to wear out the barrel quickly. The barrel would likely need to be replaced after every few dozen shots, a problem that likely limits the gun to one short battle.

“They’re not a good replacement for a missile,” Clark said. “They’re not a good replacement for an artillery shell.”

“It’s not useful military technology,” he added.

Facing a handful of difficult-to-overcome challenges inextricably linked to railgun technology, the US Navy has slow-rolled its railgun development.

But, work continues.

High-Tech Railgun Promises New Military Advantage

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Railguns could be useful someday

The US Navy has spent hundreds of millions of dollars and more than a decade researching railgun technology, and research continues despite development setbacks.

“They are thinking that down the road they will eventually get some technological breakthroughs that would enable it to be more militarily useful,” Clark explained. “That is why they are continuing to invest in it rather than dropping it entirely.”

During 2018’s Rim of the Pacific exercises, the Navy successfully test-fired hypervelocity projectiles meant for electromagnetic railguns out of the Mk 45 five-inch deck guns that come standard on cruisers and destroyers. The Army is looking at using the same high-speed rounds for its 155 mm howitzers.

So far, it appears the most beneficial thing to come out of US railgun research is the round.

For China, it’s a PR victory

China, which will likely encounter issues similar to those the US Navy has run into, is potentially continuing its railgun development for another purpose entirely.

“This is a part of China’s strategic communication plan to show that it is a rising power with next-generation military capabilities,” Clark told BI. “It is always in the details that they sometimes fall a little bit short.”

“It’s a useful prestige thing for them, which is similar to other military systems they’ve fielded recently where it looks cool but it maybe isn’t all that militarily useful,” he further remarked, comparing China’s railgun pursuits to the J-20 stealth fighter, which lacks some of the features required to make it a true fifth-generation aircraft.

“The US has found that a working railgun, even if it met all the promise of a railgun system, is going to have very limited utility in strike or air defense,” Clark concluded, explaining that this technology is a tool which advances the narrative that China is a formidable force.

The Chinese military wants to demonstrate that it is on the forefront of next-level technology.

The Chinese military, like the US, may also derive new capabilities from its railgun research

One other program the Chinese are very interested in are building modern aircraft carriers. The Chinese navy has one carrier in service, another undergoing sea trials, and a third mystery carrier in development.

While the first and second rely on ski jump-assisted short take-off but arrested recovery (STOBAR) launch systems, their is speculation that the third aircraft carrier could employ the much more effective electromagnetic catapult-assisted take-off but arrested recovery (CATOBAR) launch system.

“The same program that’s working on railguns at the naval engineering university has also been involved in their development of electromagnetic catapult system for their next-generation aircraft carrier,” Kania told Business Insider.

“The Chinese military has often intended to explore advanced technologies, including those that the US has deemed less relevant operationally because there is enthusiasm about next-generation capabilities and it wants to understand the art of the possible,” she added.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

Articles

The North Korean nuclear threat is looming larger

The only nation to have used nuclear weapons this century will be able to strike Seattle in four years, former CIA Director Gen. Michael Hayden said on Wednesday.


“I really do think that it is very likely by the end of Mr. Trump’s first term the North Korean’s will be able to reach Seattle with a nuclear weapon onboard an indigenously produced intercontinental ballistic missile,” Hayden said on MSNBC’s Morning Joe.

Also read: As North Korea gets more ambitious with missiles, Japan looks to US for backup

“Now, will it be a high-probability shot, they have technical issues, so probably not. But then again, what kind of odds are you comfortable with when it comes to Pyongyang?” Hayden said.

China has a railgun, but it doesn’t seem useful in combat

So far this year, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has conducted 25 ballistic-missile tests and two nuclear tests.

Bruce Klingner, a senior research fellow of Northeast Asia at the Heritage Foundation and former CIA deputy division chief for Korea, says the North Korean threat isn’t four years away — it’s nearly here.

“Hayden is a bit behind the curve on the North Korea ICBM threat,” Klingner told Business Insider.

“After the December 2012 launch, the South Korean navy dredged up off the ocean floor the stages of the North Korean missile, Klingner explained. “South Korean and US officials assessed the missile had a 10,000 km range which covers a large part of the US.”

Fast forward to this year, on February 7, a month after North Korea’s purported hydrogen-bomb test, the rogue regime fired a long-range rocket it claimed was carrying a satellite for its space program.

The launch, which was largely viewed as a front for testing an intercontinental ballistic missile, was not only successful but also showcased the North’s technological advancements.

“After the February 2016 launch, experts assessed it could have a range of 13,000 km, covering the entire US,” Klingner said, which makes the Seattle range estimate “outdated,” he added.

According to Klingner, even the rocket with a range of 10,000 km would compromise approximately 120 million people.

China has a railgun, but it doesn’t seem useful in combat
A graphic showing the range of the North Korean rocket launched on February 7, 2016. | Courtesy of The Heritage Foundation

What’s more, in 2015, US commanders of US Forces Korea, Pacific Command, and North American Aerospace Defense Command publicly assessed that Pyongyang is able to strike to the US with a nuclear weapon.

Articles

That time the Air Force landed bombers on tank treads

During the Cold War, the U.S. Air Force experimented with a seemingly crazy idea for dispersing the weight of their heaviest bomber across the tarmac of airports and bases. They would fit the bombers with tank tread-inspired landing gear.


The B-36 Peacemaker was the largest plane ever built by America. Originally designed before the Pearl Harbor attacks, the B-36 was supposed to be a cross-ocean bomber that could drop 10,000 pounds of ordnance on Berlin or Japan while taking off and landing in the U.S.

China has a railgun, but it doesn’t seem useful in combat
Convair XB-36 takeoff during its first flight on March 29, 1950. (Photo: U.S. Air Force)

When flying shorter routes, the plane could carry as much as 86,000 pounds.

The massive B-36 was slowly developed throughout World War II but was finished too late for the war. The first bomber rolled off the line six days after the Japanese surrender. But the plane’s capabilities, carrying 10,000 pounds of ordnance to targets thousands of miles away, made the plane perfect for a nuclear strike role in the Cold War.

There was one big problem, though. The B-36 was extremely heavy, about 419,000 pounds when fully armed. And all that weight initially sat on two smaller tires in the front and two larger ones under the wings.

China has a railgun, but it doesn’t seem useful in combat
Convair XB-36 in flight. (U.S. Air Force photo)

The weight on each tire was so great, the Peacemakers risked sinking into the concrete if they were parked for too long on most airstrips.

So the Air Force tried out a novel solution. They installed tank tread landing gear under the nose and both wings of the plane, allowing the weight to be spread over a much larger area.

China has a railgun, but it doesn’t seem useful in combat
Side view of Convair XB-36. (Photo: U.S. Air Force)

China has a railgun, but it doesn’t seem useful in combat
(Photo: U.S. Air Force)

Initial tests of the system were successful, but the Air Force scrapped it anyway. It focused on improving more airstrips rather than putting the bulky system on production B-36s. It did start buying the planes with four smaller wheels under each wing instead of the single large one, which also helped with the pressure per square inch on airfields.

The weight-to-surface-area problem would come up again with the B-47, the Peacemaker’s successor. B-47s dispersed during the Cuban Missile crisis sunk into the concrete of Logan Airport in Boston, Massachusetts and pilots had to hire a tow truck driver to pull them out of the holes they created.

MIGHTY TRENDING

U.S. Official: New START Treaty should cover Russian weapon systems under development

An extension of the last remaining nuclear arms treaty between the United States and Russia should include new weapons systems that Moscow is developing, a U.S. State Department official said in a briefing on March 9.


The New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) is scheduled to expire on February 2021 and Washington has said a new accord should encompass “slightly exotic new systems such as the nuclear-powered, underwater, nuclear-armed drone called Poseidon; the nuclear-powered, nuclear-armed cruise missile, air-launched ballistic missile, and that sort of thing,” the official said.

China has a railgun, but it doesn’t seem useful in combat

obamawhitehouse.archives.gov

The Trump administration has said it wants an extension of New START to also include China. The United States and Russia are the two signatories of treaty that went into effect in 2011.

China, the third-largest nuclear power, is on track to double its nuclear arsenal over the next decade, Christopher Ford, assistant secretary for international security and nonproliferation, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing on December 2, 2019.

However, China’s arsenal would still be less than half of that of the United States and Russia.

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The nonproliferation agreement limits deployed strategic nuclear warheads and bombs held by the United States and Russia to 1,550, a reduction of nearly 75 percent from the 6,000 cap set by START 1, according to the Arms Control Association, a Washington-based, nongovernmental organization.

The treaty also allows for the verification of warheads held by each side.

It can be renewed for up to five years if both sides agree. Moscow has already offered to extend the treaty.

This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Follow @RFERL on Twitter.

Articles

The US just obliterated this al Shabab base in Somalia

A US military airstrike destroyed an al-Shabab training camp, killing eight suspected militants, officials said.


The US military in Africa says it carried out an airstrike in southern Somalia that killed eight alleged al-Shabab militants at a rebel command and logistics camp, 185 miles southwest of the capital Mogadishu.

The Pentagon said the operation occurred at approximately 0600 GMT “in coordination with regional partners as a direct response to al-Shabab actions, including recent attacks on Somali forces.”

The statement emphasised that the strike was carried out as part of US President Donald Trump’s March authorization of American forces “to conduct legal action against al-Shababwithin a geographically defined area of active hostilities in support of (the) partner force in Somalia.”

China has a railgun, but it doesn’t seem useful in combat
The US military confirmed an early June strike killed eight al-Shabab militants in Somalia. (AP photo via News Edge)

Somali president Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed Farmaajo confirmed the airstrike, saying that Somali and partner forces destroyed an al-Shabab training camp near Sakow, in the Middle Juba region.

“The mission which was successfully ended destroyed an important training camp where the group used to organise violent operations,” said Mohamed. “This undermines their ability to mastermind more attacks.”

Neither statement mentioned casualties.

There was no immediate comment on the airstrike from Somalia’s homegrown extremist group, al-Shabab, which is allied to al-Qaeda.

In early May an American SEAL was killed in a nighttime raid in Somalia.

It appeared to be the first US military death in combat there since the infamous events of “Black Hawk Down” 24 years ago, when 18 American servicemen died in what is called the Battle of Mogadishu.

US special forces have been deployed in Somalia for years. Drone and missile strikes have also been used against al-Shabab commanders and foot soldiers.

The militant group has been fighting to overthrow the internationally backed government in Somalia since 2007.

Meanwhile, in the north, al-Shabab militants stormed a military base in Somalia’s semi-autonomous state of Puntland on Thursday, leaving 70 dead and many more injured according to officials.

Civilians – including women – were beheaded during the rampage, which has been one of the deadliest extremist attacks in years.

Puntland also faces a growing threat from IS-linked fighters who have split from al-Shabab, which grew out of the Horn of Africa country’s quarter-century of chaos.

Last year, al-Shabab became the deadliest Islamic extremist group in Africa, with more than 4,200 people killed in 2016, according to the Washington-based Africa Center for Strategic Studies.

MIGHTY TRENDING

China holds surprisingly short opening of massive bridge

After 10 years and 420,000 tons of steel, and at a devastating cost in lives and renminbi, the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge is officially open — and the announcement came by a strangely curt Chinese President Xi Jinping in the port city of Zhuhai.

The opening ceremony was shrouded in some of the trademark confusion that has dogged the megaproject since its inception in 2009, with the big day having only just been announced in late October 2018.

In an unexpected and breathtaking display of brevity, Xi declared the world’s longest sea crossing — a 35-mile (55-kilometer) bridge and underwater tunnel connecting Hong Kong, Macau, and the mainland Chinese port city of Zhuhai — as open with an abrupt two-second speech that, it is fair to say, was not what everyone was expecting.


“I announce the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge is officially open,” Xi said.

With those accurate, though perhaps less-than-memorable words, China’s strongest leader since Mao Zedong caught the 700-strong audience, which included media members and dignitaries, on the hop.

It was an exercise in concision from a president who, almost a year ago to the day, opened the Communist Party congress in Beijing with a granular 3-hour, 23-minute speech summarizing his thoughts on a new era in socialism with Chinese characteristics.

China has a railgun, but it doesn’t seem useful in combat

Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Instead, before an audience of top officials including Chinese Vice Premier Han Zheng and Hong Kong’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, Xi said his piece at the strategically located port of Zhuhai and left the podium as electronic fireworks flailed about on a television in the background.

Reporters on the ground, including Bloomberg’s Fion Li, were quick to express their surprise and disappointment.

Rhetorical revelry is a party tradition

Chinese leaders have a proud tradition of ponying up when history calls for it.

Deng Xiaoping, who while diminutive in stature was a political juggernaut in the 1980s, made a career with pithy insights that Chinese speakers around the world still quote and reexamine.

And while Mao Zedong may have presided over some of the least poetic policies of the 20th century, the Great Helmsman could turn a phrase when he had to, like this brutal and blunt firecracker from 1957.

As president, general secretary of the Central Committee of China’s Communist Party, and chairman of the Central Military Commission, Xi has quickly and effectively concentrated influence into his sphere.

And Oct. 23, 2018’s event seemed tailor-made for a long-winded reflection on China’s increasingly successful exercise of soft power, its sheer engineering audacity, and the political genius of building a 55-kilometer crossing that continues to grow the mainland’s security apparatus and authority on both the semiautonomous gambling enclave of Macau and the city-state financial powerhouse of Hong Kong.

But in the end, the president perhaps decided to let the massive, looming achievement speak for itself.

It’s all part of the plan

The bridge is part of China’s ambitious “Greater Bay Area Master Plan” to integrate Hong Kong, Macau, and the manufacturing powerhouse Guangdong province’s nine biggest cities to create a combined id=”listicle-2614804819″.5 trillion tech and science hub intended to rival even Silicon Valley.

The 55-kilometer megastructure is a typically intimidating, awe-inspiring, and slightly pointless statement of state authority and universal purpose. It rises from the Sun and Moon Bay in the Zhuhai port like some giant, disoriented concrete serpent, snaking off mercurially into the distance.

The air is very thick too, with southern Chinese humidity and the ever-present eerie gray-brown pollution that wafts in blooms from heavy manufacturing out of the Pearl River Delta — the factory floor of the world — ensuring the megabridge in all its glory will be largely obscured from view year-round.

What it does provide, however, is direct access to both potentially wayward semiautonomous regions, binding the gambling enclave and the city-state tighter to the breast of the motherland. Indeed, it may be the angst of an ever-encroaching China that has tilted the president to such a rare and unexpected pithiness.

China has a railgun, but it doesn’t seem useful in combat

Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge Site under construction in 2015.

Commentators have been quick to describe the project as a white elephant, noting that the lightly traveled crossing can hardly be a push for convenience but rather another covert expansion by Beijing as it extends its reach back into the supposedly autonomous enclaves of Hong Kong and Macau.

The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge is the second major infrastructure project binding Hong Kong to the mainland opened in just a few weeks, following a new high-speed rail connection that opened in September 2018 — the first time Chinese security were stationed on and bestowed authority in Hong Kong territory.

Certainly, there is anxiety in Hong Kong, with critics fearing the increasing inroads into the special administrative region’s territory by an ever-assertive mainland, while some local media has suggested that drivers on the bridge will be closely scrutinized by cameras that examine even their physical condition and how fatigued a driver is becoming.

The issues of territoriality may dominate the project for years to come; most of the bridge is considered mainland territory and Hong Kong vehicles and drivers, already hit by restricted access, will be traveling under the laws of the mainland, Hong Kong’s transportation department has warned.

“The Hong Kong government is always out of the picture and is under the control of the Chinese government,” the Hongkonger lawmaker Tanya Chan told AFP last week. Construction of the bridge began in 2009 and was targeted for completion two years ago.

According to the South China Morning Post, 10 workers died and 600 were injured in the construction of the typhoon-proof, two-way, six-lane expressway bridge that the government expects to carry 29,100 vehicles and 126,000 single-day passenger trips by 2030.

But for now, the bridge is open to some traffic, including certain buses, freight, and selected permit-holding passenger vehicles.

It’s also a gorgeous trip by ferry.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

New report shows the depths of the Army’s deployability problems

The US Army sent 62 of its generals to an “executive health program” at a military hospital in Texas, where they spent three days undergoing medical examinations and receiving healthcare, according to a new report obtained by USA Today.

The program followed a military-wide sweep of the Army’s top brass and reportedly showed that only one in five of its generals was ready to deploy during 2016.


The report highlighted the Army’s struggle to get its troops ready to deploy, which has become one of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis’ top priorities. Conducted at the order of former Secretary Chuck Hagel, the report was completed in 2017 after Mattis had taken over.

China has a railgun, but it doesn’t seem useful in combat

U.S. Secretary of Defense James N. Mattis.

(DoD photo by U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Angelita Lawrence)

The generals and admirals who lead the US military have also seen their reputation suffer after years of scandals, corruption and ethical lapses. An investigation, also by USA Today’s Tom Vanden Brook, found that military investigators documented 500 cases of serious misconduct by admirals and generals over a four-year period.

Only 83.5 percent of Army soldiers were able to deploy, USA Today reported. Other service branches reported higher numbers around 90 percent, the report showed.

But among Army generals, fewer than 80 percent were ready to deploy.

The report suggests this may be due to administrative rather than health reasons; most generals became deployable after receiving updated blood tests and dental exams, according to USA Today. The report recommended that generals take time to complete required examinations and necessary treatment.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

Articles

Two Air Force pilots eject in U-2 crash on West Coast

China has a railgun, but it doesn’t seem useful in combat
USAF Lockheed U-2 Dragon Lady | U.S. Air Force photo


Two U.S. Air Force pilots have ejected after a U-2 spy plane crashed around noon local time during a training mission on the West Coast, a service spokesman said.

Lt. Col. Michael Meridith, a spokesman for the Air Force, confirmed the incident on Tuesday at the Air Force Association’s annual conference outside Washington, D.C., but he didn’t know the whereabouts or the condition of the service members. “It did crash,” he said when asked if the plane went down. “Two pilots ejected.”

Meridith said a search and rescue operation for the crew was under way.

The U.S. Air Force press desk later tweeted, “We can confirm a U-2 from @9thRW Beale AFB has gone down in Sutter County, CAA; 2 pilots have ejected; details to follow when available,” referring to the 9th Reconnaissance Wing.

But officials walked back their initial statements on the pilots’ condition as the day went on.

“We have no official confirmation on the pilots’ condition,” Beale Air Force Base tweeted later in the day. “We will provide updates when more information is available.”

Air Combat Command around the same time issued a similar statement to correct a previous one that wrongly stated the pilots had “safely” ejected and were “awaiting recovery with aircraft in isolated area.”

The U-2 Dragon Lady is a Cold War-era surveillance plane based at Beale Air Force Base in California. Trainer models of the aircraft hold two crew members.

This story has been updated.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Working with the Army helped this intern earn scholarship in STEM

An Army intern has received the nation’s premier undergraduate scholarship in mathematics, natural sciences, and engineering.

Nikita Kozak, an intern with the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command’s Army Research Laboratory, is an Iowa State junior pursuing a mechanical engineering major. Kozak is now a recipient of a scholarship from the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation, which encourages outstanding students to pursue careers in STEM research.

Kozak is spending this summer working as an ARL High Performance Computing intern. He was one of 5,000 Goldwater Scholarship applicants from 443 institutes. Only 493 students were selected.

Kozak’s work at the Army lab is in optimizing gas turbine engines for variable speed operation. His experience working for the Army made him more competitive, he said.


“My time as an Army intern allowed me to develop into a better researcher and problem solver as well as providing me with real world research experience,” Kozak said.

The one-year scholarship is available to juniors and two-year scholarships are available to sophomores. It covers the cost of tuition, fees, books and room and board up to a maximum of ,500 per year.

China has a railgun, but it doesn’t seem useful in combat

Pictured left to right are ARL Sgt. Maj. Keith N. Taylor, undergraduate gold medalist Nikita Kozak, and ARL Outreach Coordinator Dr. Patrice Collins.

(U.S. Army Photo by Jhi Scott)

“This is quite a significant accomplishment,” said Dr. Simon M. Su, DOD Supercomputing Resource Center.

After graduating from Iowa State, Kozak plans to pursue a doctorate in mechanical engineering. He hopes to one day establish his own multidisciplinary research group focused on engine design and computational modeling approaches at a national laboratory.

Kozak, who is serving on his second summer internship at the laboratory, is co-mentored by Army researchers Drs. Anindya Ghoshal, Muthuvel Murugan and Luis Bravo, from ARL’s Vehicle Technology Directorate.

“Nikita Kozak is an exceptional student who has demonstrated a superior ability to understand scientific concepts, communicate complex topics with ease, and values working in a military ST environment,” Bravo said. “He has an impressive drive to reach the highest academic levels and has reached important research milestones using High Performance Computing in support of Army’s Future Vertical Lift program. I am very glad to see him a recipient of the Goldwater fellowship.”

Kozak said plans to keep his options open and continue working with his Army research mentors as his pursues his doctorate in mechanical engineering.

“My Army mentors treat as a collaborator, allowing me to explore and learn with freedom and receive expertise when needed,” Kozak said.

This article originally appeared on United States Army. Follow @USArmy on Twitter.

popular

4 reasons why fighting with a lightsaber would actually suck

In the Star Wars universe, lightsaber combat is a selling point. It hearkens back to the cinematic classics of Akira Kurosawa by putting the duels of feudal samurai into a sci-fi setting. When we watch Jedi go toe-to-toe on-screen, it sets our imaginations ablaze. And when it comes to merchandise, there are lightsaber toys flying off the shelves, as every kid wants to get their hands on that ultimate blade.


While this weapon is all-powerful and completely practical in both fiction and our imaginations, in reality, there are a number of headaches that would come with using a high-powered energy blade in contemporary combat.

1. Lightsabers are useless against guns

Let’s get the obvious shortcoming out of the way: range. A lightsaber’s max effective range is about three feet out from the user’s hand. Blasters, on the other hand, reach much further.

We can cut the lightsaber a bit of slack since the blasters in Star Wars aren’t shooting at the speed of light, or even at a fraction of the muzzle velocity of an M4. Wired recently calculated the speed of blaster rounds at 34.9m/s (or 78mph) — similar to a Major League Baseball pitch. So, it’s feasible that our heroes can deflect the lasers at a constant rate like they do in the films, but you’d definitely tire yourself out, like a baseball batter constantly swinging at fastballs.

But we’re not fighting anyone who uses blasters, so… they’re basically only useful against other lightsabers.

2. You can’t really practice with lightsabers

China has a railgun, but it doesn’t seem useful in combat

Imagine how troops practice with their weapons. There’s dry training (training that doesn’t involve actually firing the rifle) and time at the range where you fire at a designated target. This becomes a little more challenging when you’re using a weapon that only has two settings: “off” and “able to slice through feet of hardened steel.”

Any practice with a lightsaber would need to be done with a fake. By practicing with a real one, you’d run the risk of chopping off your buddy’s arm.

Your only options are this ball thing or some rocks…

3. It’s worthless if you don’t have the force

Without any Jedi training, anyone who picks up a lightsaber would probably chop off their hand. Or they’ll drop it and watch it burn a hole through to the core of the planet.

And even Jedi Masters aren’t that great at fighting…

4. There’s no safety on a lightsaber

Let’s look at the basic build of a lightsaber: There’s handle that you hold onto, the extremely deadly blade, and the button that turns it on. Nowhere on the device is there any kind of safety mechanism.

If you bump into a chair and accidentally hit the button while it’s holstered, your leg gets cut off. If you’re fighting a Jedi, they could (spoiler alert) turn it on with the force and it’ll impale you. Imagine how many lightsaber battles would’ve been ended sooner if, while duelists lock sabers and stare each other down, someone just force pushes their adversary’s lightsaber.

But they’re still cool… I guess…

Articles

US officials warn that North Korea will test another missile soon

North Korea has made preparations for yet another missile test within the coming days, US officials have told Fox News.


“The test could come as early as the end of the month,” said an unnamed official. Another official told Fox that a US WC-135 Constant Phoenix “nuclear sniffer” plane would patrol the area to detect possible nuclear activity.

The Pentagon, as well as its Japanese and South Korean counterparts, has been closely monitoring North Korea after a string of high-profile and alarming moves within its nuclear infrastructure.

Related: How China could potentially stop a US strike on North Korea — without starting World War III

Most recently, Japan detected two missile launches in North Korea that exploded “within seconds” after takeoff, CNN reported. Before that, North Korea tested a “saturation attack” — a salvo of four missiles meant to overwhelm US and allied missile defenses — with much more success.

Jeffrey Lewis, founding publisher of Arms Control Wonk, told Business Insider that North Korea’s ultimate intention with its nuclear program is to create a thermonuclear weapon that can hit the mainland US.

China has a railgun, but it doesn’t seem useful in combat
The test-fire of Pukguksong-2. This photo was released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency on February 13. | KCNA/Handout

The increased pace of tests in 2017 shows North Korea is perhaps more serious than ever about hitting this goal, which it is increasingly moving closer to achieving.

Meanwhile, the US has openly floated military action against North Korea, which experts tell Business Insider could easily cost millions of lives and result in the first use of nuclear weapons since World War II.

Lists

5 insane things about North Korea’s legal system

Here in America, land of the free, when we hear news about North Korea, it further reinforces our desire to never step foot in the reclusive nation. All the negative press that comes from within the DPRK has us sure that it’s the worst place to live — ever.

It has been run by Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un since 2012 and, under his rule and the regimes of his father and grandfather, many rules and regulations have been put in place to control the people that call the country home. Many countries around the world have laws that must be enforced — usually for good reason — but some of North Korea’s laws seem to defy both reason and ethics.

To give you a little taste of the hermit kingdom’s skewed sense of justice, we’ve compiled a list of some the most insane legal aspects of North Korea.


China has a railgun, but it doesn’t seem useful in combat

Pyongyang, North Korea.

You need legal approval to live in the city

If you’re rich and powerful, chances are you’ve already been approved to live in Pyongyang — the largest city in the country. If you’re poor as f*ck, then good luck ever getting a taste of your nation’s capital city. The government must approve of all the citizens seeking to call Pyongyang home.

Weed is legal

We came across this shocker while doing our research. According to a few North Korean defectors, marijuana can be purchased at local markets and you can watch it grow in nearby fields. Who would’ve thought a country ruled by an authoritarian would permit such a thing?

China has a railgun, but it doesn’t seem useful in combat

Their hair cuts are regulated

North Korea isn’t known for being fashion-forward. In fact, the people who reside in the strict country may only select from a number of predetermined hairstyles when it comes time to get a cut. It’s said that the government only allows people to sport one of 28 different styles.

If you don’t comply, you face serious penalties. That’s right, people. North Korea has actual fashion police.

You must vote

In most countries, voting is a right. In North Korea, voting is mandatory. If you don’t, you face severe punishment. Elections are held every five years and the same family always seems to win.

Seems legit…

China has a railgun, but it doesn’t seem useful in combat

Commit a crime, you and your family could do the time

In most countries, only those that commit the crime are punished. North Korea, however, goes a few steps further. To send the message that the country won’t tolerate any lawbreakers, the government can imprison an offender’s entire family for their actions.

In fact, they can send up to three generations of a family to the big house for a single crime.

MIGHTY HISTORY

Why the trench knife was the most stupidly awesome weapon ever issued

Every issued weapon in military history was inspired by asking the same question: “How can we make our boys kill better?” Around the turn of the 20th century, one engineer answered that question with, “hold my beer” before rolling up their sleeves going on to invent the Mark 1 trench knife.


Knives, in one form or another, have been used in combat for as long as people have been sharpening things and, pretty soon after that, people have put metal guards on their blades to prevent their hands from getting sliced up while stabbing.

But it was during World War I when the fine folks at Henry Disston & Sons took a pair of brass knuckles and added a knife and a spiked pommel to it because… f*ck it. Why not?

China has a railgun, but it doesn’t seem useful in combat
Raids, and knives, were only really employed during the night.
(Signal Corps Archives)

Fighting in the trenches of WWI was brutal. During the day, opposing fortifications hurled shots at one another and No Man’s Land, the space between opposing trenches, was a hellscape under constant barrage by artillery fire. So, any kind of advance was likely done under cover of night.

Once raiders made it into the enemy line, they would need to keep quiet for as long as possible as to not give away their position, alerting more than just an enemy sentry. They needed something both quiet and lethal to get the job done. Bayonets were plenty, but the trenches were way too narrow to properly utilize what is, essentially, a long spear. This is where detachable bayonet knives came into play.

China has a railgun, but it doesn’t seem useful in combat
Troops kept their knife (on the left) on them and used it for pretty much anything, like digging out mines, or cutting cheesecake, or stabbing people in the throat.
(National Archives)

By the time the Americans arrived in WWI, the American Expeditionary Forces decided to adapt the M1917 trench knife. It wouldn’t have the signature knuckleduster just yet, but it did sport spikes where they’d eventually go. The knife also had the infamous triangular tip that was hell for a medic to suture (and would probably be illegal today under the Geneva Convention’s rule against “unnecessary suffering”).

The blade was extremely flimsy and it was meant exclusively for stabbing. This was (mostly) improved with the introduction of the M1918 trench knife that everyone knows and loves today. This new version sported proper brass knuckles and a dual-sided blade. Unlike the earlier knife, the M1918 could be used for both slashing and thrusting. This knife was upgraded once again, using a more durable steel that was less likely to snap the first time it struck a German, and it was dubbed the the Mark I Trench Knife.

China has a railgun, but it doesn’t seem useful in combat
A man can dream…
(United States Army)

The spikes weren’t just for punching people, despite what you’ve seen in movies. They were designed more to prevent anyone from simply taking the knife out of your hand.

Finally, there’s the never-manufactured, but still-patented trench knife called the Hughes Trench Knife. Take all of the lethal features of previous designs and then turn it into a spring-loaded switchblade. You can see why it never made it past the design phase.

Trench knives lived on through WWII, were issued sparingly in the Korean War, and again in the tunnels of Vietnam — today, they’re are only sought after by collectors.

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