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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Russia hypersonic weapons still ahead of the game?

Russia was the first country to develop and successfully test hypersonic missiles. The world's superpowers, including the US and China, are quickly catching up. However, Putin vows to stay ahead of the game and counter hypersonic weapons made by other nations.

Moscow knows other nations are hastily designing their own hypersonic weapons – but by the time they are acquired, the Russian military will have learned how to shield the country from them, President Vladimir Putin has said.

The likes of the US and China have their own projects to build missiles capable of travelling several times faster than the speed of sound.

Russia able to counter hypersonic weapons made by other nations

Putin believes the world’s leading defence powers will eventually succeed in developing the ultra-fast weaponry. However, the President explained to Russia-1 TV, on Sunday, that Russia won’t be caught off-guard once that happens. At present, the country seems to be leading the field in this area.

“I think that we can pleasantly surprise our partners with the fact that when they get these weapons, we will have the means of combating them, with a high degree of probability,” Putin forecast.

The US president just recently teased a new “super-duper” missile, which he claimed could travel 17 times faster than the speed of sound.

“We have, I call it the Super Duper Missile. And I heard the other night [it’s] 17 times faster than what they have right now,” Trump said.

Read more: Trump hints about launching ‘SUPER DUPER MISSILE’ at Space Force ceremony

If you take the fastest missile right now – you’ve heard Russia has 5 times [faster], China is working on 5 or 6 times [faster]. We have one 17 times …17 times faster, if you can believe that.

Russia advanced in hypersonic weapon creation 

Russia appears to be the first nation in the world to have deployed a similar-class weapon – the Avangard glide vehicle – into service. Other munitions, like the Kinzhal (dagger) cruise missile and the Zircon anti-ship missile, are undergoing trials or said to be in the works now.

Apart from offensive weaponry, Russia has recently rolled out a radar station – which happens to be the latest addition to the Protivnik (adversary) family – designed to track over a thousand fast-moving targets, including those that are hypersonic.

Putin has stated before that the US is playing catch-up with Russia for the first time in history. He believes that obtaining hypersonic weapons was crucial to maintaining overall parity with the US, which has repeatedly tried to tilt the strategic balance in its favor. For example, building ballistic missile shields not only on American soil, but also overseas, most notably in Eastern Europe and the Asia-Pacific region.

However, most of these facilities are effectively obsolete now given hypersonic systems can easily pierce any existing defenses, President Putin said in March, adding, “it is essential not only for us, but also for global security.”

Arms race between world’s superpowers 

The United States announced in March it has successfully tested an unarmed prototype of a hypersonic missile, a nuclear-capable weapon that could accelerate the arms race between superpowers.

Read more: Accelerating arms race: Pentagon successfully tests hypersonic missile

The Pentagon said a test glide vehicle flew at hypersonic speeds — more than five times the speed of sound, or Mach 5 — to a designated impact point.

The test followed the first joint US Army and Navy flight experiment in October 2017, when the prototype missile demonstrated it could glide in the direction of a target at hypersonic speed.

Hypersonic weapons can take missile warfare, particularly nuclear warfare, to a new — and, for many, frightening — level.

They can travel much faster than current nuclear-capable ballistic and cruise missiles at low altitudes, can switch direction in flight and do not follow a predictable arc like conventional missiles, making them much harder to track and intercept.

Even as conventionally armed, non-nuclear weapons, they are viewed by analysts as raising the danger of conflict, because an adversary might not know how they are armed when launched.

The Pentagon is pressing to catch up with rivals Moscow and Beijing in the race to develop hypersonics, even as it recognizes they could dangerously raise the risks of a nuclear conflict, as countries struggle to build defenses against them.

In December, Russia declared it had placed into service its first Avangard hypersonic missile, making it the first country to claim an operable hypersonic weapon.

Russian officials claimed that in tests it had reached speeds of up to Mach 27, roughly 20,500 miles (33,000 kilometers) per hour.

China is also investing significantly in their development. Last October it displayed its DF-17 hypersonic glide vehicle in its national day military parade.

RT with additional input by GVS News Desk 

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