Chapter 2 Review of the New-generation Weapon Development of the PLA Navy
The PLA Navy’s development of platforms underwater, on the water surface, and over the air, such as anti-ship ballistic missiles (ASBMs), submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM), and electromagnetic weapons, have constantly been improving in quality and quantity, thereby achieving significant results. Among these, electromagnetic weapons are known for low costs and high effects, which may change the patterns of warfare in the future once in service.
Therefore, this annual report on technological trends focuses on the PLA Navy’s ship-based electromagnetic weapons. The weaponization of optoelectronics laser technology is mainly based on high-energy laser (HEL), high-power microwave (HPM), low frequency and extremely low frequency (LF & ELF), particle-beam weapons, plasma weaponry, radio frequency (RF), sonic weaponry, coilgun (Gauss rifle), electromagnetic railguns (EMRGs), electrothermal-chemicals (ETCs), electrothermal guns, high-altitude electromagnetic pulses (HEMPs), reconnection guns, Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG), and Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS). These are all new concept weaponry, distinctively different from traditional artillery. The first seven categories are classified as directed- energy weapons (DEWs), and the remaining are the weapons and equipment driven by strong magnetic force through electricity. Limited by space, this paper only assesses laser, microwave, and electromagnetic railguns as more developed new concept weapons of the PLA Navy ship-base electromagnetic weapons. The characteristics and weaknesses are summarized, and the potential impact on modern warfare is analyzed. While this paper does not cover other electromagnetic weapons, equipment, and possible platforms, the ROC Armed Force, national defense research institutions, and think tanks should keep a close eye on the development trends given the equally profound impact on military warfare.
Edited by the Editorial Committee of Common Terms in Mainland China, Compilation of Common Terms in Mainland China (Taipei: Showwe Information, 2009), p. 172.