Hypersonic worries


In this undated artist's rendition released by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) showing the Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle 2 (HTV-2). The Falcon HTV-2 is an unmanned, rocket-launched, maneuverable aircraft that glides through the Earthís atmosphere at incredibly fast speeds, Mach 20 (approximately 13,000 miles per hour). The hypersonic glider is scheduled for launch atop a Minotaur rocket on Wednesday Aug.10,2011 from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.  The Hypersonic Test Vehicle-2 is an experiment in extremely high speed flight technologies by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. (AP Photo/DARPA)


The U.S. is falling behind strategic rivals in the race to develop advanced hypersonic weapons, a new Air Force study reveals.

The Air Force Studies Board of the National Academies of Science reports that Russian and Chinese hypersonic missile advancements expand the power gap and pose a threat to the U.S.

“The United States may be facing a threat from a new class of weapons that will effectively combine speed, maneuverability, and altitude in ways that could challenge this nation’s tenets of global vigilance, reach, and power,” Chairman of the Air Force Studies Board Mark J. Lewis asserts.

“The People’s Republic of China and the Russian Federation are already flight-testing high-speed maneuvering weapons (HSMWs) that may endanger both forward-deployed U.S. forces and even the continental United States itself,” a summary of the report explains.

“These weapons appear to operate in regimes of speed and altitude, with maneuverability that could frustrate existing missile defense constructs and weapon capabilities.”

Hypersonic missiles can travel at five times the speed of sound, maneuver for deceptive and defensive purposes, and operate inside and outside the atmosphere, beyond the range of conventional defenses.

Both Russia and China tested hypersonic weapons in April.

China is considering applying its DF-ZF hypersonic glide vehicle, previously known as the WU-14, to its medium and long-range missiles, as well as its anti-ship ballistic missiles.

Compared to the “relatively leisurely pace” of the U.S., Russia and China are researching and developing hypersonic weapons at a “feverish” pace.

“The United States has an established defense architecture for ballistic missiles,” but “there is no such architecture for high-speed maneuvering weapon (HSMW) defense,” the report warns.

Hypersonic weapons operate “in the seams” of traditional U.S. defense systems.

“Put another way, while operational doctrine and command structures adequately address traditional atmospheric air attack or exoatmospheric ballistic missile attack, existing doctrine and organizational structure may not be adequate to address the cross-domain threat posed by HSMWs,” the Air Force report warns.

“HSMWs may impede operations, global vigilance, maintenance, and supporting logistics. At a national strategic level, HSMWs could hold at risk the fundamental U.S. construct of global reach and presence,” the report concluded.

Lewis argues that the only counter to hypersonic weapons, as was true with nuclear weapons during the Cold War, is hypersonic weapons.

The new Air Force study is reportedly the first U.S. military report to sounds the alarms over the hypersonic weapons arms race.

(Extract from article:- Daily Caller)


One thought on “Hypersonic worries

  1. What can I say? The US Space Command perfected the art and science of ‘hitting a bullet with a bullet’ technology a decade ago . Then there is the X-37b ‘black program’ and the automatic refuelling by dipping briefly into the upper reaches of the Exonisphere and scooping up gas (fuel) and then re-entering orbit once more, ….. ion engined space plane that can maintain orbit indefinitely. It can also manoeuvre, change orbits and carries potential weapon loads that you have never heard about yet. And there is room for a crew of two if required.

    The Daily Caller was just having a ‘slow news day’

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