Chinese researchers are working to develop a boron-powered supersonic missile that will be able to travel further and faster than any conventional torpedo. The boron missile would offer supersonic speed, range in the air, and supercavitating approach speeds underwater for devastating anti-ship capabilities.
A research team from the College of aerospace science and engineering at the National University of Defence Technology in Changsha, Hunan province, has unveiled a blueprint for the supersonic missile in a peer-reviewed journal of Solid Rocket Technology. According to South China Morning Post (SCMP), the 5-meter long anti-ship missile will be able to cruise at 2.5 times the speed of sound at about 10,000 meters (32,800 feet) for distances up to 200 km (124 miles). It would then dive and skim across the waves for up to 20 km (12.4 miles) to avoid detection.
When the target is within the range of up to 10 km (6.2 miles), the missile will go into torpedo mode and travel underwater at up to 100 m/sec (200 knots) using supercavitation – the formation of a giant air bubble around it in the water, which significantly reduces drag.
Researchers also claim that the anti-ship missile will be capable of changing its course or crash-diving to a depth of up to 100 meters (330 feet) to evade underwater defense systems without losing momentum. Researchers are confident that no existing ship defense system was designed to handle such a fast cross-media attack.
The vessel would produce considerable thrust while breathing in either air or water due to a supersonic ramjet engine running on solid fuel rods containing around 60% boron. Boron is a light element that reacts violently when exposed to both, releasing a huge amount of heat. It has been used extensively in propulsion fuels, from jet fuel additives to solid nanotube fuels for hypersonic propulsion systems.