US studying high speed kinetic approach to countering Russian small nukes
The U.S. has begun considering adding a new kinetic energy weapon to its arsenal in hopes of countering advances in Russian nuclear technology that could potentially threaten U.S. tactical military dominance.I suspect this weapon could have some application to missile defense systems. It has the potential to be devastating during the launch phase of a missile.
Called the Kinetic Energy Projectile, the weapon is a tungsten-based warhead launched at more than three times the speed of sound that bursts into numerous flaming, metal fragments easily capable of piercing most conventional types of armor, according to Aviation Week. The Army is looking into fitting the new super-weapon onto existing launch platforms that are capable of supplying sufficient charge to shoot the projectile at such speeds. One reason for the weapon would be to respond to Russia's pursuit of miniaturized nuclear warheads fired by tanks.
Major General William Hix, the Army’s director of strategy, has likened the Kinetic Energy Projectile, designed by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, to "a big shotgun shell" that could travel "Mach 3 to Mach 6" and tear through its targets.
“The way that they have designed it, is quite devastating. I would not want to be around it. Not much can survive it," Hix said last month at the Booz Allen Hamilton Direct Energy Summit, according to Defense One. "If you are in a main battle tank, if you’re a crew member, you might survive but the vehicle will be non-mission capable, and everything below that...level of protection will be dead. That’s what I am talking about."
“Kinetic energy projectiles are warhead systems that take advantage of high terminal speeds to deliver much more energy onto a target than the chemical explosives they carry would deliver alone,” said Randy Simpson, a weapons programs manager at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, according to a statement emailed to Newsweek by the laboratory.