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China testing hypersonic bullets on live targets

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China testing hypersonic bullets on live targets

China is working to downsize its hypersonic weapons programme to the small arms level, says a media report.

Researchers from an army medical centre in Chongqing recently fired 5-millimeter steel projectiles at Mach 11 speeds against sedated live pigs to understand the effects of hypersonic bullets on human targets, the South China Morning Post reported this week.

Citing a paper from the Acta Armamentarii peer-reviewed journal of the China Ordnance Society, the Post report noted that hypersonic bullet shots to the thigh did not instantly kill the pigs but caused severe injuries throughout their bodies.

The news report said that the pigs sustained extensive internal damage, mainly bone fractures and bleeding in the intestine, lung, bladder and brain.

It said that the bullets penetrated the thigh at speeds between 1,000 to 3,000 meters per second, but at 4,000 meters per second, the rounds instead left a large wound cavity at the point of impact.

Ordinary bullets are generally fired at 1,200 meters per second, which allows them to penetrate targets as solid objects. However, bullets reach melting point temperatures at hypersonic speeds, lowering their penetration capabilities.

China’s hypersonic bullets seemed to be aflame upon contact with the target, demonstrating tremendous energy on impact. Such hits resulted in crater-like wounds, liquefying both bullet and flesh, the report added

Hypersonic projectiles can penetrate the latest armour materials and would be almost impossible to shoot down, unlike missiles. In addition, their lack of explosive payloads and propellants makes them safer to handle and allows more rounds to be carried.###