The scientists at a military institute in China are developing hypersonic vehicle-mounted laser guns, according to a report in Newsweek. Chinese space experts at the Space Engineering University claim their laser guns will cut air resistance and enable their missiles to strike energy targets even faster than before by clearing a “teardrop-shaped” path for the missiles to travel through.
The Space Engineering University was absorbed by the People’s Liberation Army’s Strategic Support Force following Beijing’s military reforms introduced in 2015.
In practice, the laser guns will create air plasma, also known as a “hot core”, ahead of the hypersonic missiles.
This will mean that China’s missiles and military aircraft will travel at five times the speed of sound.
Research has concluded airflow control has been one of the most significant aerodynamic challenges facing designers of high-speed aircraft.
Air resistance creates a shock wave and increases drag and surface heating when aircraft approach the sound barrier.
The paper also added that the plasma released by the laser guns will manipulate the structure of the shock waves and then lead to a change in distribution of speed and pressure.
In turn, this will reduce drag and ensure the speed of missiles will be greatly increased.
Experts Shi Jilin and Wang Diankai from China’s State Key Laboratory of Laser Propulsion and Application claimed: “Laser plasma drag reduction technology is of great significance for hypersonic aircraft drag reduction and thermal insulation and improves aircraft performance.”
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However, America’s Congressional Research Service has published their own report on hypersonic weapons and claimed the US had a “heightened focus” on it following technological advancements made by Beijing and Moscow.
It added the US “has actively pursued the developments of hypersonic weapons – manoeuvering weapons that fly at speeds of at least Mach 5 – as part of its global strike programme since the early 2000s.”
But, the Congressional Research Service stated: “Most US hypersonic weapons programmes, in contrast to those in Russia and China, are not being designed for use with a nuclear warhead.”