“Hypersonic,” or “hyperphonic,” says expert Patrick Boulder of the HCSS Research Center, is, as we say, a type of superlative “sonus,” the Latin word for “sound.” “This means that you are ‘hyper’ much faster than ‘sound.’ About five to twenty times.” From 6000 to 24,000 km per hour, or from 5 to Mach 20.
A former lieutenant colonel in the Air Force doubts whether Vladimir Putin actually launched a hypersonic missile. The Armory in his eyes was a very small target for such a very expensive thing.
And the specialist in air weapons confirms: “They have, but I did not see that it was deployed.” “I think it is a trick, a signal. Such a missile can travel 2,000 kilometers so that the West will not think it is safe.”
It refers to the Kindzhal missile, which was launched by a MiG combat aircraft. Another supersonic masterpiece is the Tsirkon, which was tested from a submarine last October but previously launched from a frigate. This cruise missile, which can be used primarily against ships, flies at Mach 7 (8,400 kilometers per hour) but has a range of “only” from 250 to 500 kilometers. Next, the Russians have Avangard missiles, which have a capacity of 20 Mach and are launched from a facility on the ground.
Supersonic warfare combines two characteristics of “traditional” missiles: the speed of a ballistic missile, which is also supersonic, and the maneuverability of a classic cruise missile. But in order to reach this speed, a hypersonic air force, unlike a ballistic missile, does not have to leave the atmosphere in a parabolic orbit up to 250 km in height.
“It stays at an altitude of about 80 kilometers, just below the upper limit of the atmosphere, and is so maneuverable that it can even change its orbit,” says Patrick Boulder. It allows him to bypass the US missile defense system. Since it is flying at a very low altitude, it only enters the ground radar detection area at the very last moment and there is very little time to react.”
The Americans and Europeans are developing hypersonic counterweights for Russian and Chinese missiles. However, it is not yet operational.
The French website Meta-Defense reported in February that the Pentagon wants to use the SM-6 missile to counter hypersonic threats for as long as possible. The SM-6, thanks to its on-board radar, can engage targets beyond the launch pad’s radar horizon. In addition, it can also attack naval targets and ballistic missiles in the atmosphere.
These are interesting but troubling times for defense professionals as supersonic missiles can be equipped with nuclear warheads. “Yes, there are a lot of challenges,” admits the presenter
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