The Race for Hypersonic Missiles

11th April 2019 | Reading Time: 6 minutes   11 Views
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Hypersonic missiles are a new category of weapons that are being developed by the world’s leading military powers. Armed with either conventional or nuclear warheads, they are practically impossible to intercept with the current technology due to their extremely high speed. In this report, we will examine the main types of hypersonic missiles being developed and the strategic rationale justifying their deployment. We will also discuss the geostrategic implications of Hypersonic Missiles.

WHAT ARE HYPERSONIC MISSILES?

A missile is considered as “hypersonic” if it is capable of travelling at five times or more the speed of sound. In more technical terms, this means that they are missiles that can fly at Mach 5 or higher. As a result of this impressive speed combined with the ability to perform evasive manoeuvres, they can bypass nearly all existing anti-missile defence systems; thus, leaving the target exposed to an attack.

Hypersonic missiles can be divided into two sub-categories. The first group is made of hypersonic glide vehicles, or HGVs. This definition does not apply to a missile in its entirety, but only to the re-entry vehicle containing the warhead, which is launched into a high-altitude ballistic trajectory by a rocket.

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