How do hypersonic gliding vehicles work

Arms race in hypersonic missiles and aircraft

The hypersonic technology opens up a worldwide attack in a few minutes, which drastically shortens the reaction time and undermines most missile defense systems

The US presumably set the pace with the 2003 plan of a global strike or "Prompt Global Strike" (CONPLAN 8022) and initiated an arms race involving hypersonic drones or rockets.

The primary goal is not to enable a comprehensive attack on a country with nuclear missiles, for example, but to hit any local target anywhere on earth within an hour with ICBMs with conventional or nuclear explosive charges, ballistic missiles or hypersonic speed gliding devices. For example, it is thought of being able to turn off the opposing government or military leadership (decapitation) (global attack and destruction capacity).

In 2011, the Pentagon carried out the allegedly successful first test of the AHW (Advanced Hypersonic Weapon) hypersonic missile, after a test in 2010 with the Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle 2 (HTV-2), which was carried to an altitude of 100 km and then should head for a target on earth with Mach 20. Another test failed in 2014. However, a test with the Scramjet X-51A (WaveRider) is said to have been successful.

In any case, we are now not only in the middle of a nuclear arms run, but also one in which the state is ahead in developing drones or missiles that can hit a target anywhere in the world at supersonic speed in a short time can implement the threat of a global strike. Presumably, the US is now behind, while Russia and China could be further developing.

The development is extremely dangerous because the warning times are getting shorter and shorter, i.e. the response time is getting shorter and shorter. In principle, one approaches the mechanical stock exchange activities in milliseconds, which prevent human intervention or deliberation because that would cost too much time. The shortening of time enforces an autonomy of the systems, in whose calculus developed by humans, however, these are no longer allowed to play a role. In a certain way, the free play of market forces is technically followed by the free play of AI systems, which have to decide in a fraction of minutes or seconds how to react to a suspected attack.

Is the US already lagging behind Russia and China?

Russia has started development for many years, and it is known that tests have been carried out with the hypersonic glide vehicle Yu-71, in Russian media the RS-28 Sarmat ballistic ICBM. She is said to have flown at Mach 15. The aim is Mach 20 and a range of 20,000 km.

Last year an RS-18 (SS-19 Stiletto) long-range missile was reportedly successfully tested, which was shot down by a hypersonic glider from the Baikonur spaceport. In addition, the hypersonic anti-ship missile Zirkon is being developed, which is supposed to fly at Mach 8 and is fired by submarines (advances in the nuclear arms race). The Russian magazine "Expert" concludes:

The Americans' successes in developing maneuverable re-entry bodies therefore seem rather modest. The level of technology they have achieved in this specific area is at best comparable with the late Soviet developments. What's more, there is solid evidence that the US is not only inferior to Russia in this regard, but also to China, the third participant in the global hypersonic race.


China is building the world's fastest wind tunnel for testing hypersonic technology

The South China Morning Post reports from China that the fastest wind tunnel in the world is being built there to carry out simulations of supersonic speeds of up to 12 km / s, i.e. Mach 35.

A missile that could fly at this speed would reach the US west coast from China in less than 14 minutes. The wind tunnel should be completed in 2020. According to Zhao from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, this will promote supersonic flight technology, especially in the military sector, because it enables problems on the ground to be discovered and solved.

So far, the most powerful wind tunnel is in the USA, but it would lag behind the capacities of the Chinese one, if it can, because it can "only" operate at 10 km / s or Mach 30. Germany's strongest wind tunnel is the DLR's H2K, which manages just over 11 Mach.

China reportedly carried out seven successful tests of the WU-14 supersonic glider, which reached a speed between Mach 5 and 10.

Warning of "new threat class"

A recent report by the Rand organization warns that only the USA, Russia and China have advanced in the development of hypersonic missiles, but that there is a risk of the "new threat class" spreading. This would also allow other and smaller states such as North Korea to threaten the large states more credibly, which could lead to the outbreak of war more quickly.

They are new threats because they are maneuverable, can fly at lower altitudes than ballistic missiles and faster than 5000 km / h, rendering most missile defense systems ineffective and reducing reaction times (OODA - Observe, Orient, Decide, Act). "The spread of hypersonic technology is under way in Europe, Japan, Australia and India, other nations are beginning to research such a technology. The spread can exceed many limits if the hypersonic technology is offered on the world market."

Now is the time to prevent proliferation through an agreement, it is said, which would also mean that the USA, Russia and China would remain superior to the other countries with this technology. That happened, for example, with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, with which the nuclear-armed states of the time secured their privilege. However, it was also unable to prevent Pakistan, Israel, India, which did not join the treaty in the first place, and North Korea, which terminated it, from equipping themselves with nuclear weapons (Florian Rötzer)

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