Cruise missiles, which can move at a stable speed of more than Mach 5 along an unpredictable trajectory and not reveal themselves until the very last moment, have become a reality. However, hypersonic weapon will not lead to a revolution in military affairs. This opinion is expressed in the British publication RUSI
The real value of hypersonic weapons
... As indicated, against the background of "intimidation from Russia" in the form of constant tests of hypersonic cruise missiles, the Pentagon increased funding for their creation from $ 0,8 in 2017 to $ 3,8 billion.
Hypersonic weapons represent the most significant advancements in missile technology since ICBMs. Due to their extreme speed and maneuvering ability, hypersonic weapons are able to undermine the nuclear deterrent and create cracks in strategic stability by the mid-2020s.
- the author writes about the stereotyped approach he criticizes, pointing out that hypersonic weapons have the advantages of both ballistic missiles (speed) and cruise missiles (accuracy).
However, as he believes, the fascination with this type of weapon “is not technically justified; politicians tend to overestimate the capabilities of these systems. " Participation in the hypersonic weapons race for the United States, Russia, and China "is largely due to national pride and prestige."
According to the author, the impact of hypersonic weapons on nuclear strategic stability will be minimal, the real combat value will manifest itself only at the tactical level due to the possibility of effectively destroying command posts, strike groups of the Navy and US missile defense.
Disadvantages of hypersonic weapons
At the same time, hypersonic weapons do not look so impressive at intercontinental distances - unlike the "good old" long-range ballistic missiles. According to the author, firstly, hypersound is presented as a revolutionary means of overcoming missile defense, but effective missile defense did not exist, even from ICBMs. Second, the necessary trade-offs between speed, range, maneuverability and accuracy imply limitations on striking power.
As explained, the "extreme speed" of these weapons drastically limits decision-making time, but ICBMs also operate. In addition, it leads to the formation of an ionized gas stream. This heating is able to reveal the location of the missile and can cut off the navigation link, which ultimately will negatively affect the accuracy of the strike. The maneuverability inherent in hypersonic weapons requires additional fuel consumption and, as a result, can lead to a decrease in flight speed on the final trajectory below Mach 5.
According to the author, all this casts doubt on the "inflated significance" of hypersonic weapons. For Russia, it is mainly a means of compensating for the shift in strategic stability since the US withdrawn from the ABM Treaty in 2002 - and this despite the fact that ICBMs are in a more advantageous position at intercontinental ranges. Unlike the Russian Federation, China is developing hypersonic weapons to dominate the South China Sea, considering them as a means of overcoming American missile defense systems in the Asia-Pacific region. Finally, the United States was forced to join this race against the backdrop of the successes achieved by Moscow and Beijing.
The over-enthusiasm of national leaders for hypersonic weapons, which continues to suffer from serious engineering problems, coupled with unstable relations between the great powers, creates a rather fertile ground for misconceptions and unintended escalation. It's time to end the "hypersonic hyperbole"
- the author concludes, stating the alleged "exaggerated importance" of this type of weapon and "engineering problems."
Is it because Britain and the United States do not have such weapons? ..