Russia has taken major steps in augmenting their military prowess.
From new battle tank T14 Armata to developing the world’s most powerful ICBM Sarmat, Russian
military is expanding its capabilities.
Russia has also been putting lot of attention on Tactical nukes.
To counter them, the U.S. Army is taking another look at a “devastating” weapon.The Kinetic
Energy Projectile, or KEP, is a tungsten-based charge moving at three times the speed of
sound that can destroy anything in its path.
It was first tested by the Air Force and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in 2013.
In this video, Defense Updates analyses WHY KINETIC ENERGY PROJECTILE OF U.S IS STRONG
ANSWER TO RUSSIA’S TACTICAL NUKE?
Why would the U.S. military, which has put untold billions of dollars into precision
weapons over several decades, need such a blunt and terrifying weapon?
The answer is to counter small nuclear weapons of Russia.
A tactical nuclear weapon (TNW) or non-strategic nuclear weapon is a nuclear weapon which is
designed to be used on a battlefield level military situations, mostly with friendly
forces in proximity and perhaps even on contested friendly territory.
This is opposed to strategic nuclear weapons which are designed to be mostly targeted in
the enemy interior away from the war front against military bases, cities, to damage
the enemy’s ability to wage war.
Tactical nuclear weapons include gravity bombs, short-range missiles, artillery shells, land
mines, depth charges, and torpedoes which are equipped with nuclear warheads.
Also in this category are nuclear armed ground-based or shipborne surface-to-air missiles (SAMs)
and air-to-air missiles.
The yield of tactical nuclear weapons are generally lower than that of strategic nuclear
weapons, but larger ones are still very powerful.
Maj. Gen. William His, the Army’s director of strategy, plans & policy, said “The Russians
maintain their tactical nuclear stockpile in ways that U.S have not”.
Potomac Institute head Philip Karber, who helped write the Pentagon’s Russia New Generation
Warfare Study, offered a bit more explanation.
While the United States retains just a few of its once-large arsenal of tactical nukes,
Karber estimates that Russia currently has anywhere from 2,000 to 5,000 of the weapons.
He added: “Look at what the Russians have been doing in low-fission, high-fusion, sub-kiloton
tactical nuclear technology.
It appears that they are putting a big effort…in both miniaturizing the warheads and using
sub-kiloton low-yield warheads.”
By shrinking the warhead, one can shoot it out of a wider variety of guns, including,
potentially, 152-millimeter tank cannons.
Barber said ,"They’ve announced that the follow-on tank to the Armata will have a 152-millimeter
gun missile launcher.
They’re talking about it having a nuclear capability.
And you go, ‘You’re talking about building a nuclear tank, a tank that fires a nuke?’
Well, that’s the implication”.
Though the use of tactical battlefield nuclear weapons, even very low-level ones, is not
part of official Russian military doctrine, but it is a capability that they are increasingly
eager to show off to intimidate neighbors and adversaries.
Barber added, “They certainly exercise the use of those weapons in many of their exercises,
including the one that participated in the parking of 30,000 to 40,000 soldiers on the
Ukrainian border right before the 2014 invasion of Crimea.
That coercive intimidation is a part of their design”.
And while even Soviet generals may have shied away from using tactical nukes, Putin’s
military is “a lot more inclined philosophically to see the utility of them.
Kinetic Energy Projectile is a super-dense, super-fast projectile that, operating free
of complex systems and volatile chemicals.
Whether dropped from the sky or fired from a cannon, the principle behind these weapons
is the same: hitting the enemy with something very hard and very dense, moving very fast.
The principle of the kinetic energy penetrator is that it uses its kinetic energy, which
is a function of its mass and velocity (K.E=1/2 Mass * Velocity* Velocity) to impact target with lethal effects.
To maximize mass KEP uses the densest metals practical, which is one of the reasons depleted
uranium or tungsten carbide is used.
Maj. Gen. His, said a few weeks ago at the Booz Allen Hamilton Direct Energy Summit “Think of
it as a big shotgun shell”.
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
Mr His added: “The way that they] 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 kinetic energy projectile may become a staple of modern warfare soon as per most
The absence of explosive propellants to store and handle, as well as the lower cost of projectiles
compared to conventional weaponry comes as great advantage.
K.E.P will be used as an advanced conventional precision effects warhead for prompt strike
U.S and Russia has taken different routs in-terms of battle field level weapons.
The Russian are going with tactical nukes which will cause widespread destruction whereas
America is going with a more precise strike option.
For Russia, it makes sense as they already have a huge stockpile of tactical nukes.
From America’s stand point, K.E.P fits well into the larger picture of augmenting precision
strike options with this highly destructive technology.
It remains to be seen how this duel pans out in the future.