The unstoppable hypersonic missiles

These next generation hypersonic missiles with conventional, non-nuclear warheads are most effective against high-value targets like aircraft carriers.
Interesting Engineering

In the world of military technology, hypersonic weapons are the latest frontier. These weapons refer to any vehicle that can travel at speeds faster than Mach 5, or five times the speed of sound, while maneuvering through the atmosphere. The main reason nations are investing in these next-generation weapons is due to their speed, maneuverability, and hard-to-predict flight path, making them difficult to defend against.

One example of a hypersonic weapon is the Kinzhal, which is an aeroballistic system. This means that after being dropped from an aircraft, it accelerates to hypersonic speed using a rocket and then follows a ballistic trajectory. The Kinzhal is a formidable weapon that can travel at Mach 10 and is designed to take out high-value targets, such as aircraft carriers.

Another hypersonic weapon under development is the DF-ZF, previously known as the Wu-14 as a prototype, which is a hypersonic glide vehicle being developed by the People’s Liberation Army Rocket Forces in China. This weapon can travel at speeds of up to Mach 10 and can be maneuvered both horizontally and vertically while in flight.

The United States is also developing its own hypersonic weapons, with the AGM-183A Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon, or ARRW ("Arrow"), expected to be the country's first operational hypersonic weapon. The ARRW is designed to be launched from an aircraft and can travel at speeds of up to Mach 20.

The Zircon is another type of hypersonic weapon, which is a scramjet-powered hypersonic cruise missile. Unlike hypersonic glide weapons, hypersonic cruise missiles rely on cooled supersonic combustion ramjet engines, which use the flow of air at supersonic speeds, compressed by the forward motion of the missile, to drive combustion. The Zircon can travel at speeds of up to Mach 8 and is designed to be highly maneuverable.

The main advantage of hypersonic weapons is their speed, which allows them to quickly reach their targets and evade enemy defenses. However, the development of these weapons also presents significant challenges, including the need for advanced materials to withstand the extreme temperatures and forces generated during flight, as well as the need for sophisticated guidance systems to ensure accuracy.

In conclusion, hypersonic weapons are the latest frontier in military technology, with nations around the world investing in their development. These weapons offer unparalleled speed and maneuverability, making them difficult to defend against and highly effective against high-value targets. However, the development of these weapons presents significant technological challenges that must be overcome to ensure their successful deployment.