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Will China use high-speed trains to launch nuclear missiles?

Normally, a modern intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) can fit inside a carriage, according to Yin Zihong, an associate professor of civil engineering at Southwest Jiaotong University in Chengdu, Sichuan, China. ship. But when detonated, the rocket’s weight generates two to four times the ship’s maximum thrust, which can damage infrastructure, so this method is not considered safe.

In China, high-speed trains have speeds of up to 350km/h, with 16 carriages, each weighing about 60 tons.

However, in the new study, Yin and colleagues found that in some cases, using high-speed rails, rather than heavy industrial rails, can make the launch process faster. and smoother. Using data from test launches conducted by the Chinese military, Yin and colleagues simulated the operation of the launch system on high-speed rail.

Will China use high-speed trains to launch nuclear missiles?  - first

Chinese researchers look at the possibility of launching an intercontinental ballistic missile, such as the DF-41 pictured here, from a speedboat. (Photo: AP)

“This means that on high-speed rails, the maneuverability, safety and concealment of military vehicles will be better.”the researchers said.

Normal rails use ballast rock materials, such as small stones and gravel, to absorb shocks. For example, a heavy haulage line built to transport ore and coal would require more ballast.

The powerful shock waves generated by ICBM launches can go up to 8 meters underground, far exceeding the underlying structural thickness of most railway lines. Meanwhile, according to the new study, Yin’s team found that no additional reinforcement is needed for the high-speed rail – the rods are fixed to the concrete without using the ballast area as a buffer.

According to the researchers’ simulation results, most of the vibrations emitted by the rocket will be confined to the shallow areas of the high-speed rail, where damage is easier to detect and repair.

This conclusion is not necessarily surprising, a Beijing-based researcher said. The unnamed researcher said: “Extremely high operating speeds require high-speed rail to have a much stronger foundation than conventional rail.”

The supporting structures of some high-speed rail foundations in China are as deep as 60 meters, according to publicly available information.

Besides that, Yin’s team also found other advantages in launching rockets from high-speed rail compared to heavy rail, such as shorter shocks. But they warn that some of the extremely low-frequency vibrations generated by the launcher can damage surface structures, such as rails and concrete slabs.

It is not clear whether the Chinese military has deployed a high-speed rail-based nuclear launcher.

According to military experts, a train-based ICBM launch system is more likely to withstand the first wave of nuclear attack than other land-based systems. According to some estimates, the train can carry as many missiles as a nuclear submarine.

Nuclear-armed locomotives, also known as “doomsday trains,” were first proposed by the US military during the Cold War. The former Soviet Union built and used such a system.

China is said to have tested using rails to launch DF-41 missiles in 2016.

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