With the U.S. seemingly years behind Russia’s and China’s hypersonic missile programs, the Biden Administration kept under wraps a successful test launch last month off a B-52 heavy bomber.
“The test came days after Russia says it used its own hypersonic missile during its invasion of Ukraine,” CNN noted, “claiming it targeted an ammunition warehouse in western Ukraine.”
Deterrence, how does it work?
Deterrence is supposed to work by making sure the other guy knows your defenses are at least as good as his, if not better.
Instead, Presidentish Joe Biden kept the mid-March test a secret — on the eve of his visit to Europe to talk with Western leaders about Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine.
At least, that’s what one “defense official familiar with the matter” told CNN.
Since it was a stupid and self-defeating decision on the part of Biden (or his handlers), I’m inclined to believe the anonymous defense official.
Meanwhile, Russia released footage before Biden’s trip, showing a successful test of their Zircon hypersonic missile that “could hit London in five minutes” if launched from western Russia.
Biden would have gone to Europe with a stronger hand had Russia (and our allies) been made aware of how far along we were in developing a similar ability to hit Moscow with so little warning.
Hypersonic missiles travel at super-high speeds — Mach 5 or faster — making them extremely destructive and difficult or even impossible to shoot down with existing missile-defense systems. They can be equipped with conventional or nuclear warheads.
A hypersonic can provide the speed, range, and accuracy of a nuclear-tipped ICBM, but without necessarily escalating a conflict into global thermonuclear war.
So they’ve got that going for them. Which is nice.
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A hypersonic scramjet engine requires so much airflow just to successfully ignite that they are first brought up to high speed with a rocket booster engine. From there, the scramjet can accelerate the missile to Ludicrous Speed of Mach 10 and above.
While the Air Force was short on details, the Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept (HAWC) tested in March was launched from a B-52 off the West Coast. Once the booster engine brought the HAWC up to ignition speed, the missile flew above 65,000 feet and for more than 300 miles — or at least that’s as much as the Air Force would admit to.
The Long-Range Hypersonic Weapon (LRHW) currently under development for the U.S. Army will reportedly have a top speed of Mach 17, or 12,600 MPH at sea level.
Keeping that kind of development a secret while Moscow probes for weaknesses in Western defenses is just stupid.