China is testing the world’s largest coil gun that is capable of accelerating a projectile weighing over 100 kilograms to a speed of 700 kilometers per hour in less than 0.05 seconds, Chinese media reported on Friday.
The coil gun, also known as a Gauss gun, or a magnetic accelerator, is reportedly equipped with a number of coils arranged along its barrel and energized one after another to create a magnetic field capable of propelling projectiles. The 124-kilogram projectile is said to be the heaviest ever used in such an experiment.
The tests are performed by a team of scientists from the Chinese navy. The scientists have not disclosed the exact characteristics of the coil gun nor when it will be set in operation, but said that a projectile launched by such a gun can hit a target at a distance of several kilometers.
The projectile is reportedly equipped with sensors protected from electromagnetic radiation, which enables the operator to collect information about its flight.
The experience gained in testing the gun can be used in launching near-Earth satellites and high-speed rockets.
Similar tests were performed by the United States at the Sandia National Laboratories in the 2000s. There, a 120mm-calibre electromagnetic coil mortar reportedly managed to fire a projectile weighing 18 kilograms.