After China’s military unveiled its latest toy, the US and Russia present their own results in retaliation.
After decades of work on hypersonic technology, the military giants decided to demonstrate the power they hold in their hands.
Despite all the successful tests, China still manages to outclass the competition with a space-bound 21,000mph missile, demonstrating just how advanced their systems are.
Without some drastic progress, both the US and the Russians could lose the next cold war arms race if China maintains this lead, experts say.
The US. Are we still in the game?
Over the years the US government has accumulated a number of hypersonic missile projects across all its military programs, but a large portion of the data still remains top secret.
On the other hand, the ones that are known are standard ICBM’s, striking the target from a high altitude, a much more conventional, and unfortunately, obsolete method of bombardment as anti-missile shield technology has become far more sophisticated.
As it stands the only US-owned hypersonic weapon to have been successfully tested was the Air Force’s GM-183 ARRW, which former president Trump has referred to as the „super-duper missile.“
It has an estimated speed of around 15,300mph and a range of 1000 miles.
The US expects to have a fully functional, submarine-launched hypersonic missile by the year 2023 and estimates its range to be around 1800 miles.
So far, there have been reported successful tests of a DARPA-developed HAWC missile that uses oncoming air as part of its fuel, creating a mixture capable of allowing the missile to reach speeds five times the speed of sound.
Unlike its competition, the US military stated that their hypersonic missiles aren’t designed to be mounted with nuclear warheads, demanding far more precision from the missile itself as the blast area would be much smaller.
Apart from the aforementioned, DARPA is in charge of a $20 million project that will develop hypersonic interceptive missiles.
What about Russians?
Having recently launched the hypersonic missile Zircon from a submarine, the Russian military stated that the weapon has an effective range of 630 miles and can reach speeds of 9,800mph.
The Moscow Defence ministry gloats, claiming the missile is capable of bypassing all forms of defense the West has to offer.
The weapon had been previously launched from frigates but this was the first time the launch was carried out from a submarine.
Russian propaganda-driven television identified the Zircon as Russia’s weapon of choice should the opportunity present itself.
The Zircon goes into service next year, and its main purpose will be taking out enemy ships within its range, which is rumored to be double than what the military originally stated.
It will join Russia’s arsenal of hypersonic missiles along with the nearly 200-tonne Satan 2, as the West has dubbed it.
Rightfully so, as some have said it has capabilities of wiping out areas the size of England and Wales.
And now… China?
China’s new toy is a hypersonic orbital bombardment system, taking inspiration from an idea developed by the Soviets in the 1960s – to send a nuclear warhead-mounted missile into orbit and have it circle the Earth.
The weapon reaches speeds of up to 21000mph or nearly 28 mach as it evades any form of powerful radar missile detection.
The premise lies in the fact that the missile doesn’t follow the usual trajectory that ICBMs usually do.
Instead, it is launched with a far „flatter“ trajectory, allowing it to use the Earth’s gravitational pull, essentially giving it unlimited range.
On another note, China is in possession of another hypersonic missile, the DF-17, with a range of around 1500 miles and that can reach speeds of up to 7,700mph.
This missile was deployed to coastal areas in preparation for the invasion of Taiwan.
The arms race continues at a steady pace
US disarmament ambassador Robert Wood stated that these hypersonic missiles and their development are a necessary evil and that if Russia and China are developing this technology, the US has no choice but to respond in full.
Wood claims that the development of such technology is becoming rather alarming, as defending against it is a completely foreign concept to everyone.
Missile specialist Jeffrey Lewis warned that China has over 100 nuclear-armed ICBMs that could strike the US, and that despite the fact a space glider approach is an old idea, now it’s pretty relevant and raises cause for concern as it obsoletes all of the United States’ military defenses.