Addressing the Threat from Hypersonic Weapons

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Addressing the Threat from Hypersonic Weapons

With China militarizing the South China Sea and Russia expanding into the Ukraine and working closely with Iran in Syria, the major powers are gearing up for the kind of stand-offs last seen during the Cold War. That means a renewed arms race which includes upgrading conventional forces, as well as renewing the “nuclear triad.”

In that context, the U.S. Military is racing to catch up in the field of hypersonic weapons. China and Russia have both conducted tests of these extremely fast weapons as an asymmetric response to American military superiority

China’s DF-ZF boost glide weapon has undergone multiple test shots, flying from the Wuzhai Missile Test Center in central China to Inner Mongolia. The DF-ZF uses a DF-21 intermediate range ballistic missile as a booster and flies at speeds of 4,000 to 7,000 miles an hour.

Russia's Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle is expected to enter service in 2020. Unlike the Chinese weapon, Avangard will almost certainly be configured to deliver a nuclear weapon designed to operate under U.S. ballistic missile defenses. Experts familiar with U.S. intelligence reports conclude that the Russian hypersonic glide vehicles are equipped with onboard countermeasures that are able to defeat even the most advanced missile-defense systems. Russian President Vladimir Putin says Avangard has a top speed of Mach 20, or twenty times the speed of sound. It is also highly maneuverable and, therefore, unpredictable, making it difficult to track.

Russia has also announced the development of the Kinzhal hypersonic weapon, which is just a new version of the ground-launched Iskander short-range ballistic missile fitted to a MiG-3Notably, some well-informed experts contend that this is really not a breakthrough...

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