The U.S. Army’s mysterious new super-extended long-range gun could sit on an island in the South China Sea and hit Chinese targets hundreds of miles away, smashing artificial islands made from dredged sediment that act as Beijing’s military outposts. That’s according to Secretary of the Army Mark Esper, who says the fantastical weapon would “open the door” for the other services, blasting enemy defenses before they have a chance to open fire on U.S. Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps forces converging on the region.
Esper, , said that the supergun could sit in a “gun pit” on the edge of the South China Sea and blast targets as far as 1,150 miles away. According to the secretary, the gun could destroy Chinese warships and military targets on islands across the South China Sea, destroying air defense sites, radar installations, anti-ship missiles and even air bases. The destruction of these facilities in wartime would allow U.S. air, naval, and ground forces to enter the area and wrestle it away from China.
One possible location for the gun? The Philippine archipelago on the eastern edge of the South China Sea, particularly the islands of Palawan and Luzon. In 2016, the U.S. military HIMARS truck-mounted rocket launchers to the Philippines for joint exercises with the Philippine armed forces. A supergun sited on the island could hit in both the Spratly and Paracel island chains, including air bases on Subi Reef and Fiery Cross Reef. From Palawan the big, big gun could also strike all of Hainan Island, , and even a small portion of the mainland.
We still know very little about the Army’s new cannon, other than that it is portable and is anticipated to have a range of 1,000 nautical miles, or 1,150 miles. We don’t know how it propels projectiles, how often it can fire, and how large the projectiles are. We know it is “portable,” but that is a very relative term. One more hint from Esper’s comments: whatever the gun is, it can hit moving targets; as the secretary says, it can hit ships of the Chinese fleet. Here’s hoping the Army tells us more soon.