April 2016 – MILITARY – On Wednesday, an event of the National Defense Industrial Association saw U.S. Air Force deputy assistant secretary David Walker presenting their hypersonic plan. The United States sees the potential use of hypersonic missiles by 2020. Though its counterparts might be pursuing nuclear variants, Washington said it has always intended the new hypersonic boost-glide weapons to remain purely conventional.
Although traditional ballistic missiles have already reach hypersonic speeds, they cannot maneuver. Now, according to the Daily Mail, the missile models in development can be guided: “Launched from the ground, aircraft, surface ships or submarines, hypersonic missiles would allow war fighters to strike time-critical targets at long range much faster.”
“Russia and China are also in on the game but — importantly — may not be restricting themselves to conventional weaponry on their HGVs,” writes physicist Yousaf Butt in the Huffington Post. The Pentagon is currently funding projects overseen by Raytheon. Defense One mentioned that there are two systems available: Boost Glide and Scramjet.
The Boost Guide rides a rocket into space, then re-enters the atmosphere and glides to its target. Meanwhile, the Scramjet scoops up oxygen as it flies a flatter path to its destination. These cruise missiles can steer their way past defenses or sneak below radar coverage, which are advantages when trying to penetrate sophisticated air defense systems. The goal of the entire project is not nuclearization but the creation of a re-usable hypersonic jet.
Although Washington has no nuclear intentions in the pipeline, they may be forced to move in that direction if it is confirmed that China and Russia are going to. Value Walk evaluates the possibility: “Quite simply, the United States will surely arm its hypersonics with nuclear payloads as well, which would be a U-turn on present policy but also necessary as a deterrent. – Morning Ledger