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China tried to poach supergun inventor


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Chinese secret agents have made repeated attempts to poach an Australian scientist behind the invention of a high-speed gun that could revolutionise warfare.

The gun with its electronic firing mechanism, called Metal Storm, was invented by Mike O'Dwyer, who is based in Brisbane.

He claimed this week that Chinese government agents offered him more than $100 million to move to China and work on the gun.

"What I was expected to do in Beijing was to divulge all the knowledge I had to enable prototypes to be built for the weapons system to be developed," he told Channel Nine television.

"[They] said 'We don't need any Metal Storm weapons, we don't need any of the paper work, the history — what we want is you. We want you and your family in Beijing'."

Mr O'Dwyer kept details of all the approaches, made over the past decade and passed the information to the Australian government, which has invested around £4 million into the project.

Last year the Chinese made another attempt. An Australian-Chinese businessman, Jun Yang, said an agent told him: "The Chinese Liberation Army wants to buy Metal Storm. It's very advanced technology. When you return to Australia we want you to purchase it for us."

Mr Yang cut his ties with the agent and revealed details of the plot after joining the Falun Gong movement, which opposes the Communist regime.

Mr O'Dwyer has retired from Metal Storm Ltd, but the industrial espionage tactics were confirmed yesterday by company executives. They said fresh approaches had been made in the past few months.

"We get inquires all the time but the implication of these was that the technology would end up in China," said the chief operating officer, Ian Gillespie.

Metal Storm was reaching the final prototype stage after successful testing by the US military, he said. "We expect production to start in 12 to 24 months."

Hailed as a revolution in weaponry, Metal Storm's firing mechanism is initiated electronically rather than by the traditional percussion method. It has almost no recoil and no moving parts, meaning that stoppages are less common than in normal firearms.

Bullets or grenades can be fired at a rate of one million per minute, either from a single weapon or multiple barrels grouped together in pods.

In comparison, an Uzi machinegun fires at a rate of 3,000 rounds a minute.

The company claims the technology can be applied to almost any calibre of weapon. Much of the project is secret, but it is believed that hand-held or remote-controlled weapons would be powered by long-lasting battery packs.

"You'd get multiple firings from one battery and they'd last a long time," said Ian Bostock, an analyst with Jane's Defence Weekly.

"Very few firearm revolutions have taken place in the last 60 or 70 years but this is one of them."

A multi-barrelled Metal Storm gun would direct withering fire at an enemy infantry or tank advance, or enable a warship to fend off a missile attack.

"You can put a lot of lead in the air very quickly," Mr Bostock said. "You could have a pod of 60 barrels, each with 20 bullets, and send out a cloud of gunfire in one or two seconds."

China was conducting a worldwide search for new military technology and it was no surprise it had targeted this new weapon, Mr Bostock said.

"I don't doubt for a moment that they'd try to poach it. They have a long and successful history of reverse engineering — acquiring kit from India or Russia or wherever, pulling it apart, and building their own version," he said.

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I guess that gun is impressive, except what good is it to be able to shoot said 1 mil rounds out of a box that looks like it can maybe hole only 1000 rounds? Am I missing something?

The Navy uses a system called Phalynx to shoot down incoming missiles. I could see this replacing that

It'd be neat to see in an A-10 nose or an AC-130

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