Boron-powered supersonic anti-ship missile works in air and underwater are being developed by Chinese researchers, according to the South China Morning Post (SCMP) report. The missile is expected to have range and speed far superior to any torpedo developed so far.
Boron reacts explosively with water as well as air to release large amounts of heat. It was experimented on in the US Air Force in the 1950s, but it was shelved because when it ignited, it was difficult to control.
However, the race for hypersonic weapons has reignited the research on boron as a fuel. China experimented with boron nanoparticles in its weapons and even the American Navy successfully experimented with boron nitride nanotubes.
Chinese researchers are also working on developing supersonic weapons using the same fuel.
China’s Boron-Powered Supersonic Anti-Ship Missile
It is believed that the blueprint for a supersonic missile was revealed by a team from the National University of Defense Technology in Changsha, Hunan Province in a peer-reviewed journal of Solid Rocket Technology.
The missile is 5 meters tall and can fly at Mach 2.5 at an altitude of 32,800 feet (10,000 m), the same as commercial planes. After flying a distance of 124 miles (200 km), it can also spend 12 miles skimming over waves.
What makes these torpedoes unique is the fact that they can travel underwater at up to 100 meters per second when in torpedo mode, or three times as fast as regular missiles. This helps in reducing the drag and not slow down the rocket.
The new missile will be able to change its course or crash dive in order to avoid being intercepted. The researchers are confident that this type of attack has never been seen before and that the missile can change its course while diving quickly.
China’s Boron-Powered Supersonic Anti-Ship Missile a Success or Failure
Previously, boron-powered missiles were only meant to be used in the air. The researchers designed changes that will enable the fuel to burn effectively in either setting.
Boron is typically used in amounts of up to 30% in these missiles, with other chemicals necessary for ignition being the bulk of the weight. The research was able to double the amount of boron and produce a better thrust within the water.
The researchers will make modifications to boron particles, as well as improving manufacturing processes. However, the bottleneck with this method is acquiring boron in large quantities.
China imports half of its boron ores, most coming from the U.S., so it would be hard for it to weaponize the material.
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