AUGUST 4, 2018
China is building rockets for its artillery units that will be propelled by “electromagnetic catapult” technology and can be used at high altitude locations in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), state media has reported, indicating the projectiles could be deployed against India.
Describing the innovation as “unprecedented”, the report said the catapult-propelled rockets can hit targets beyond 200 km and will be more powerful and effective than conventional artillery guns.
The report didn’t specifically mention India, though it quoted the military scientist developing the technology as saying such rockets could potentially have been used during a military incident on a plateau in southwest China’s border region.
That didn’t leave too much room for doubt about where such rockets could be deployed.
China and India were locked in a 73-day standoff on the Doklam (Donglang in Chinese) plateau near the Sikkim border last year.
The Communist Party of China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) had repeatedly threatened to retaliate after Indian soldiers took position in Doklam to prevent Chinese personnel from building a strategic road in the region controlled by Beijing but claimed by Thimphu.
The standoff was resolved through diplomatic negotiations, partly because the Indian Army was said to be at an advantage in the area.
The “electromagnetic catapult rocket artillery technology” being developed at a PLA research centre in Beijing could negate that advantage, experts said.
The “research has made an important technological breakthrough and the development plan is becoming a reality”, the Global Times tabloid quoted a report by Beijing-based Science and Technology as saying.
The project leader is scientist Han Junli, a research fellow at the centre.
“Han reportedly mentioned a military incident that occurred in a border region on a plateau in Southwest China, where he saw the potential necessity of deploying rocket artillery,” the report said.“China has large plateau and mountainous areas where rocket artillery could destroy invading forces from hundreds of kilometres away without soldiers crossing mountains.”
The same technology will be used on warships and aircraft carriers.“Another is the electromagnetic railgun, which can fire projectiles via electromagnetic force at an incredible destructive velocity. It is expected to be mounted on China’s first domestically developed 10,000-ton class missile destroyer 055 in the future,” the report said.
An electromagnetic catapult system is widely expected to be used on China’s future aircraft carriers, allowing more fighter jets to take off in a shorter time and boost the carrier’s combat capabilities.