Why the UK is Investing in HYPERSONIC Weapons and LASER Defense
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07 April 2022 | By Richard Ahern – The AUKUS pact has been extended to allow the UK to work with the US and Australia on developing hypersonic weapons and laser defense systems.
In a statement released from 10 Downing Street, the UK government announced that they will “commence new trilateral cooperation on hypersonics and counter-hypersonics, and electronic warfare capabilities.”
The Prime Minister said this will include “cooperation on cyber capabilities, artificial intelligence, quantum technologies, and additional undersea capabilities.”
The AUKUS alliance was initially an alliance between the UK, US, and Australia with a primary focus on helping Australia build nuclear submarines. However, the UK said, “In light of Russia’s unprovoked, unjustified, and unlawful invasion of Ukraine,” the AUKUS pact will now include cooperation on cutting-edge weapons technology.
The focus is on hypersonic weapons and hypersonic weapons defense…
What’s the significance of hypersonic weapons?
Hypersonic weapons present an unprecedented threat due to their ability to carry nuclear warheads at speeds of over five times the speed of sound and maneuver rapidly on command.
A traditional intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) travels in an arc, going into space and descending on its target. ICBMs are pre-programmed to hit a target, and once in orbit, they are guided by gravity and can’t alter their trajectory. Because of their predictable course, essentially free falling on their target, ICBMs can be detected relatively easily and intercepted by defense systems.
On the other hand, hypersonic missiles have jet engines and can be guided remotely throughout their entire journey. They also fly at lower altitudes which makes early detection extremely difficult.
Let’s put it in perspective:
The speed of sound is approximately 760mph, called Mach 1. Today’s passenger planes travel below this speed (subsonic), with the fastest being around Mach 0.8. The Concorde plane was a supersonic plane that could travel up to two times the speed of sound or Mach 2.
Anything that travels faster than Mach 5 is regarded as hypersonic, at least 3,836mph, but many hypersonic missiles can travel at around Mach 10.
A passenger plane traveling from Russia to the United States at Mach 0.8 would take around 9 hours; a hypersonic missile traveling at around Mach 10 would reach the US in approximately 45 minutes!
Here’s the bad news:
Russia has hypersonic weapons.
In 2018, Vladimir Putin unveiled his hypersonic missile arsenal and described them as “invincible,” suggesting defense systems can’t intercept them. Russia has used hypersonic missiles against Ukraine in the recent conflict.
Russia also claims that its hypersonic cruise missile is nuclear powered, which essentially means it can travel anywhere without running out of fuel. The hypersonic missile can carry a nuclear warhead or traditional explosives.
Here’s what is particularly frightening:
Russian hypersonic missiles travel so fast that the air pressure in front of them forms a plasma cloud that absorbs radio waves, making them invisible to radar systems.
In summary, Russia has hypersonic missiles that can travel at ten times the speed of sound with unlimited range, maneuver rapidly on command, carry nuclear warheads, and are invisible to radar systems!
That is why countries like the UK are investing so heavily into hypersonic defense technology.
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