Defense One — Were the United States to go to war with Russia, both sides could draw on deadly weapons that the world has never seen on a battlefield. On the Russian side, there are new and smaller tactical nuclear weapons. To counter them, the U.S. Army is taking another look at a “devastating” weapon it first tested in 2013: the Kinetic Energy Projectile, or KEP, a tungsten-based charge moving at three times the speed of sound that can destroy anything in its path.
“Think of it as a big shotgun shell,” Maj. Gen. William Hix, the Army’s director of strategy, plans & policy, said a few weeks ago at the Booz Allen Hamilton Direct Energy Summit. But unlike a shotgun shell, Hix said, the KEP moves at incredible speeds of “Mach 3 to Mach 6.”
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.”
The general emphasized that the exploration was in a conceptual phase and not yet any sort of actual program: “We’re looking at ways we might — key, might — use that capability in one of our existing launch platforms as part of the weapons suite that we have.”
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