While some analysts and many Americans are proud to see the Trump administration taking an aggressive stance with the United States’ military, our historic enemies are viewing our sudden uses of force as a call to arms. The ensuing rush to build stockpiles of weapons has resulted in a new arms race. With that in mind, the United States is working on another big surprise.
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The Kinetic Energy Projectile (KEP) is a tungsten-based warhead. The rocket propelled projectile can move at more than three times the speed of sound. Though it is still in the conceptual phase, the missile looks promising. The tungsten warhead ignites, and sends incendiary fragments in what amounts to a giant flaming shotgun blast.
The fragments, because they are moving so fast and burning so hot, can pierce armor.
An initial test in 2013 produced speeds that were up to 6 times the speed of sound on a controlled sled.
“Think of it as a big shotgun shell,” Major General William Hix, the Army’s director of strategy, plans & policy, told a gathered corwd at the Booz Allen Hamilton Direct Energy Summit.
According to a report from Defense One:
Randy Simpson, a weapons programs manager at Lawrence Livermore National Lab, explains that kinetic energy projectiles are warheads 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 Hix: “The way that they [Lawrence Livermore] have designed it is quite devastating. I would not want to be around it. Not much can survive it. 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 will level of protection will be dead. That’s what I am talking about.”
This new shotgun approach differs from previous uses of tungsten projectiles, which include the Armor Piercing Fin Stabilized Discarding Sabot (APFSDS) style of fast-moving tank busters. Those off pin-point accuracy, and the experimental uses of them have been well documented.
Our main concern remains the military abilities of the former Soviet Union. After we used the MOAB in Afghanistan, Russia began publicizing their stockpiles of a similar bomb, the Aviation Thermobaric Bomb of Increased Power, which they’re calling the Father Of All Bombs. It weighs 15,560lbs and explodes with a force equivalent to 44 tons of TNT.
As the testing is still in the preliminary stages, very little is known about the range of the KEP. How far will the missile carrying the warhead travel? How will those missiles be deployed? Once the tungsten warhead itself is ignited, how long will it remain at maximum lethality before burning itself out?
These questions will be answered as the platform develops, though we may not receive the information publicly for some time. President Trump has frequently expressed his disapproval of any advanced knowledge or warning regarding his military strategy.