The United States, the United Kingdom and Australia start the race against Russia and China

While Russia has claimed to have launched two hypersonic missiles in Ukraine, China has already conducted a test of this type of missile last year and North Korea also claims to have launched, and the United Kingdom and the United States (which are already testing) and Australia announced on Tuesday that they will jointly develop such weapons. As part of the AUKUS security agreement aimed at countering China’s growing influence in the region.

“We commit (…) today to start a new trilateral cooperation in hypersonic, antisonic and electronic means of warfare,” US leaders Joe Biden, Britain’s Boris Johnson and Australia’s Scott Morrison said in a statement. It also agreed to “expand information exchange and deepen cooperation in defense innovation.”

The second test for the United States

The announcement comes as the US military announced on Tuesday that it has successfully tested a hypersonic missile for the second time. These missiles are faster and more maneuverable than regular missiles, and therefore more difficult to intercept.

The scientific arm of the US Army, DARPA determined that the missile launched from an aircraft traveled more than 300 nautical miles (550 km) at a speed of five times the speed of sound (at least 6,100 km/h), and reached an altitude of some 20,000 meters. It was in connection with the second test of the HAWC missile (the concept of an ultrasonic breathing weapon) with pneumatic propulsion, that is, it uses the oxygen in the atmosphere for its combustion. DARPA said the previous test, in September, was conducted with a different launcher. According to CNN, the trial took place in mid-March and was kept secret until then to avoid any escalation after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

HAWC Program Director Andrew Neudler commented, “The HAWC experience demonstrated to Lockheed Martin the success of a second design that will allow our fighters to choose the best weapons for battlefield control.”

The Pentagon is also developing a hypersonic glider called the ARRW (pronounced Arrow), but its first comprehensive test failed in April 2020.

Hypersonic missiles are designed to fly at high speeds and at low altitudes, and to change direction in flight rather than follow a predictable linear trajectory, making them more difficult to intercept. China tested a hypersonic missile in August that circled the Earth in orbit before descending to its target, a missile that missed it just a few miles away. Four years after its revelations, Russia claimed it had launched two new-generation missiles in Ukraine, which Vladimir Putin called “indomitable.” Russia has 7 such missiles.

Seven Russian hypersonic missiles

Avangard, the “Indomitable” missile

Russia’s hypersonic Avangard missiles (“vanguard” in Russian) are able to change course and rise at very high speeds, which makes them “virtually invincible” according to Vladimir Putin, who compares scientific and military progress in its development with “the creation of the first Earth satellite” The famous Sputnik. Successfully tested in December 2018, it reached a speed of Mach 27 – or 27 times the speed of sound – and hit a target located about 6,000 km away, according to the Russian Defense Ministry. They were put into service in December 2019.

– Kinjal, a hypersonic “dagger”

Kinjal (“dagger” in Russian) missiles used for the first time by the Russian military on Friday allowed the destruction of an underground weapons depot in western Ukraine. This type of missile, highly maneuverable, is supposed to challenge anti-aircraft defense systems. During the tests, they reached all their targets at a distance of 1000 to 2000 km. They are equipping MiG-31 warplanes. Experts say that its use in Ukraine is the first in the world for hypersonic weapons.

Sarmat from the North Pole to the Antarctic

The fifth-generation Sarmat heavy intercontinental ballistic missile is also supposed to evade missile defenses. Weighing more than 200 tons, it outperforms its predecessor – the Vojvoda missile with a range of 11,000 km – and “almost has no range limit,” according to Vladimir Putin, who designed it. It is judged to be capable of “shooting at targets crossing the North Pole as well as the South Pole”.

– Peresvet, combat laser

Technical characteristics of the Peresvet combat laser systems (named after a warrior monk of the 14th century) are classified. The Defense Ministry said they had been combat-ready since December 2019.

– Poseidon, an underwater drone

The Poseidon, an underwater drone developed for Russia’s nuclear deterrent, will be able to move more than a kilometer deep, at a speed of 60 to 70 knots, while remaining invisible to detection systems, according to a source within the Russian military industry. Complex, citing the official TASS agency. Tests of the Poseidon system took place in the spring of 2020 to eventually equip the Belgorod nuclear submarine, the ship that was launched in 2019 but whose commissioning, according to TASS, has been delayed at least until the summer of 2022.

– Bourevestnik, storm bird

Again with “unlimited range”, still according to Vladimir Putin, capable of overcoming almost all interception systems, the Russian army has developed Burevestnik cruise missiles (a seabird of Russian origin the word “storm”). Its technical characteristics are classified.

– “Invisible” Zircon Naval Missile

The first official launch of the Zircon supersonic missile (named after a metal used in jewelry) dates back to October 2020. It flies at Mach 9 to reach sea and land targets. At the end of December 2021, Vladimir Putin announced the first successful test launch of a Zircon missile. Other tests have been conducted since October 2020 in the Russian Arctic, in particular from the frigate Admiral Gorchkov and a submerged submarine.

(with AFP)