A “big shotgun shell” that travels at three times the speed of sound and can blow apart a tank is one of the latest conventional weapons that the Army has in its sights.
The Kinetic Energy Projectile (KEP), developed and successfully tested by the government-owned Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in 2013, is a railgun with a tungsten warhead. Because of its hypersonic speed, it’s more lethal than the explosives it would deliver. The warhead “bursts into numerous flaming, metal fragments easily capable of piercing most conventional types of armor,” according to Newsweek, which said the weapon could be launched from existing platforms.
“One reason for the weapon would be to respond to Russia's pursuit of miniaturized nuclear warheads fired by tanks,” Newsweek said.
At a conference last month, the website Defense One said, an Army general in charge of strategy and planning likened the KEP to a big shotgun shell traveling at incredible speed with lethal effect.
“The way that they [Lawrence Livermore] have designed it is quite devastating. I would not want to be around it. Not much can survive it. If you are in the main battle tank, if you’re a crew member, you might survive but the vehicle will be non-mission capable, and everything below that level of protection will be dead. That’s what I am talking about,” Major Gen. William Hix was quoted as saying at the Booz Allen Hamilton Direct Energy Summit.
Hix emphasized that the Army is only looking at the KEP as part of a possible weapon system but said that one launch platform could be the Army Tactile Missile System, Defense One reported.