Does the US have hypersonic missiles?

American glide breaker system to intercept Russian hypersonic missiles

Will the defense missiles be stationed in space?

On December 26, Russia launched an Avangard missile in a plasma cloud at 27 times the speed of sound. According to the Russian news agency RIA, the Avangard hypersonic missiles can be equipped with both conventional and nuclear warheads. However, technical details are missing so far, which is why not all observers assume that the associated cooling problems have really already been solved.

Once they have been resolved, the military balance between the powers has shifted because it is practically impossible to intercept such a missile with conventional missile defense systems such as Patriot, AEGIS or THAAD (see Sputnik shock with hypersonic missiles?). The missiles are invisible to radar systems. In addition, they can use engine thrusts to vary their flight altitude and change direction.

The unspoken reason for American space military commands?

Hypersonic missiles work with so-called "scramjet" jet engines, which only start at speeds of around 6,000 kilometers per hour. To get to this speed, the warheads are launched as "gliders" with conventional cruise missiles or ICBMs. This is where the glide breaker project comes in, which the military research agency DARPA announced in November. Officially, almost all details about this project are so far secret. All that is known is that it is supposed to be a defense system against hypersonic missiles that itself works with hypersonic technology.

ORF author Erich Moechel believes that he still knows something about the glide breaker system: that it should be stationed in space. He concludes, among other things, from statements by US President Donald Trump who, shortly before the Glide Breaker plans first became known, emphasized the need for a "Space Force" and an American military command for space, without specifically revealing why considers it militarily necessary (see Trump in Space).

At an event on August 4th, for example, he merely said that "so much is happening in space" and that he is talking about "not only about Mars and the moon", but also "about the enormous defense and offensive capacity that the Space lies, which is why we are going to set up the Space Force ". In his statement on August 9, US Vice President Mike Pence referred very specifically to the development of Russian and Chinese "supersonic missiles to shut down the American missile defense system".

However, Pence also cited the threat posed by American satellites as a reason for the need for an American space force. Shortly thereafter, a spokesman for the US State Department expressed concern about a Russian satellite that the Russian military had put into orbit in June 2017 because "the Russian intentions with regard to this satellite are unclear and obviously a very worrying development" (see Trumps Space Command and the suspicious Russian satellite Kosmos 2521).

Statements such as that of the US Secretary of State of Defense Michael Griffin, who emphasized at a conference in September that the stationing of anti-missile missiles in space would be much cheaper today than in the early 1990s when they were postponed, also speak in favor of deploying the glide breaker system in space gave up the Cold War (Pentagon wants to station missiles in space).

Problem heat

Regardless of whether or not to deploy the glide-breaker defense system in space, US engineers will have to solve some problems that they have historically been partially successful in solving if they are actually going to use hypersonic technology.

This is probably one of the reasons why DARPA wants to talk to potential suppliers (who can apply until tomorrow) on the next "Proposers’ Day "scheduled for January 22nd, among other things, about materials that do not deform even in the heat of a plasma cloud. If their edges are deformed, a hypersonic missile can no longer be controlled. American attempts to prevent this with cooling systems ended in crashes between 2010 and 2013. (Peter Mühlbauer)

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