Today, all the nations in the world face the challenge of hypersonic missiles that can travel in the atmosphere with a speed of more than 5 times the speed of sound.
The next generation hypersonic missiles pose a serious threat to global security.
It is next to impossible for a conventional anti-missile defence system to defeat hypersonic missiles, due to their hypersonic speed.
After the Russian claims that their advanced hypersonic missiles have the ability to carry nuclear weapons, the question in everybody’s mind is how to defeat hypersonic missiles.
Now, if the traditional missile defence systems can’t shoot down hypersonic missiles, then what are the possible ways to defeat hypersonic missiles.
In this article, we will discuss how to defeat hypersonic missiles.
We will also inform you about the unique types of hypersonic missiles and different countries that possess these hypersonic missiles.
What are Hypersonic Missiles:
Hypersonic missiles are the next generation advanced missiles that can travel from 5 to 25 times the speed of sound.
Keep in mind that the average speed of sound in the air is almost 343 meters per second at sea level.
It means that the speed of these hypersonic missiles varies from 1 to 5 miles per second, which is 1.6 to almost 8 KM per second.
This extremist speed is the reason why it is much difficult to defeat hypersonic missiles.
Different Types of Hypersonic Missiles:
Hypersonic missiles vary in their speed as well as the way or the process of their launching and travelling. In this way, there are three different types of hypersonic missiles.
The more advanced hypersonic missiles, the more their speed and the more difficult it will become to defeat hypersonic missiles.
Hypersonic Cruise Missiles:
The speed of Hypersonic cruise missiles is up to Mach 5 (5 times the speed of sound), meaning they can travel at the speed of 1 mile per second.
Hypersonic cruise missiles are accelerated by a rocket to hypersonic speed. To maintain this speed, they use an air-breathing engine also known as scramjet.
A test flight of hypersonic cruise missiles is conducted by the USA in March 2020 and they are also under development by China.
As the speed of these hypersonic cruise missiles are almost equal to supersonic missiles, it is feasible to defeat hypersonic cruise missiles.
Hypersonic Glide Missiles:
As their name suggests, these missiles are uplifted by a rocket to high altitude and then they glide towards their target with maximum speed.
The speed range of these hypersonic glide missiles can be up to 15 Mach, that is more than 3 miles per second.
The USA’s Conventional Prompt Strike system, Russia’s Avangard and China’s Dongfeng-17 are example of these hypersonic glide missiles.
According to the USA officials, China’s hypersonic glide missiles technology is the most advanced than any other country in the world.
It means it is very tough to defeat China’s hypersonic glide missiles.
Hypersonic Aero-ballistic Missiles:
Hypersonic aero-ballistic missiles are the fastest missiles on the globe, as their speed range is 25 Mach.
It means that these hypersonic aero-ballistic missiles can travel at the speed of about 8 miles per second.
Hypersonic aero-ballistic missiles are attached with a rocket and then dropped from an aircraft.
The rocket boosted these missiles to hypersonic speed and then they followed a ballistic trajectory. The Russian Kinzhal is an example of hypersonic aero-ballistic missiles.
As the hypersonic aero-ballistic missiles are the fastest missiles ever, it is out of the question to defeat these hypersonic aero-ballistic missiles with the current anti-missile defence technology.
Countries with Hypersonic Missiles:
Countries all over the world are organizing the research on hypersonic missiles and how to defeat hypersonic missiles.
Although many countries have made claims about testing these hypersonic missiles, currently, there are only two countries that possess operational hypersonic missiles, Russia and China.
Russian Hypersonic Missiles:
Russia has been conducting research on hypersonic technology since the i1980s. Russia is the first, and the only nation till to date, to use Russian hypersonic missiles in combat. Russia is using these Russian hypersonic missiles in their invasion of Ukraine in 2022.
According to Western and Russian military officials, on March 19, 2022 Russia fired a hypersonic missile to attack an underground weapon storage in West Ukraine.
Avangard, an advanced Russian hypersonic glide missile, has the ability to travel with the speed of Mach 20 to 25.
Its range is more than 3500 miles, making it very difficult to defeat this hypersonic missile with the current missile-defence system.
China Hypersonic Missiles:
According to U.S. military and intelligence officials, between 2016 and 2020, China organized more than one hundred hypersonic missile tests.
It is important to note that during this time-period, the USA only conducted nine tests regarding hypersonic missiles.
China hypersonic missiles include a medium range hypersonic glide missile named DF-17. It can travel at 5 to 10 Mach and has a range of more than 1500 miles.
China hypersonic missiles are much slower than Russian hypersonic missiles. So, it is practical to shoot down or defeat China’s hypersonic glide missiles with the S-400 missile-defence system.
Does the US have Hypersonic Missiles?
For decades, the U.S. military had desired to possess hypersonic missiles. During the financial year 2022, the USA has spent almost $3.8 billion on hypersonic weapons.
On July 13, 2002 the U.S air force claimed that they had successfully tested two hypersonic missiles.
But these missiles are of Mach 5, which means they can travel at a speed of only 1.5 miles per second.
So, in hypersonic missile technology, the USA is far behind than Russia and China.
How to Defeat Hypersonic Missiles:
Currently, there is no missile defence system that can be used to defeat hypersonic missiles. But history tells us that no weapon is unbeatable and invincible.
Many militarily developed countries like the USA are working on ground-breaking ways to detect and defeat hypersonic missiles during their various stages of flight.
How to Defeat Hypersonic Missiles with Iron Dome?
Iron Dome is the Israeli surface-to-air missile-defence system that can be used against short-range ballistic missiles.
According to official figures, Iron Dome has a hit success rate of 90%, that’s impressive. But these figures are challenged by many analysts.
But Iron Dome is used against the short-range less advanced and missiles fired by Hamas. But this Iron Dome becomes ineffective against even supersonic missiles.
So, it is not possible to defeat hypersonic missiles by using Iron Dome.
How to Defeat Hypersonic Missiles with S-500?
S-500 is the latest Russian long-range anti-missile defence system. This surface-to-air defence system has a range of 500 to 600 KM.
It is noted that the speed of hypersonic missiles becomes much slower during their final or terminal phase before they hit the target.
So, it is feasible to defeat hypersonic missiles during this terminal phase.
The S-500 is the most advanced hypersonic missile defence system that can be used to defeat hypersonic missiles during their final or terminal phase of flight.
How to Defeat Hypersonic Missiles with SM-6 Aegis?
SM-6 Aegis is a USA made ballistic defence missile. It has the dual-capability, meaning it can be used either for air defence like anti-ship cruise missiles or as ballistic missile defence.
U.S. admiral John Hill claimed that SM-6 Aegis has the ability to defeat hypersonic missiles during their terminal stage of flight before they hit the target.
How to Defeat Hypersonic Missiles with Laser Weapon?
Different prototypes of laser weapons are developed by countries like the US, Russia, Israel and China to defend against the ballistic missiles
But laser weapons have many technical challenges like high energy consumption and huge initial cost.
Similarly, to demolish coming missiles, a laser must be focused on the target to destroy it. But it is not possible in case of hypersonic missiles, as they travel at very fast speed.
Yet many analysts believe that laser weapons are the future and with advancement in more efficient power sources and AI assistance, laser weapons can defeat hypersonic missiles in the future.
Homo sapiens are the only species that create tools to destroy themselves. Hypersonic missiles developed by many countries are becoming a serious problem all over the globe.
It is not feasible to defeat Hypersonic missiles during their flight phases except terminal phase up to date, but history tells us that no weapon is invincible.
The USA, Russia and China are working their own way and conducting experiments to defeat these hypersonic missiles in the future.