The Early Age of Hypersonic Weapons

The continuing successful tests of Hypersonic missiles and anti-missiles by Russia, China and the United States will see a few dozen mostly short range hypersonic missiles and anti-missiles deployed by 2020. These will mainly be mach 5 to mach 10 missiles with ranges of 250 to 600 miles. Longer ranges and larger numbers of hypersonic missiles will appear throughout the 2022-2030 timeframe.

* 2020-2024 initial hypersonic missiles by China, Russia and USA (maybe India and some European countries), a few dozen and mainly 600 mile or less ranges. Rocket boosted hypersonic missiles.
* 2025-2030 a few hundred hypersonic missiles with ranges up to 1500 miles with more efficient hypersonic engines.
* Some hypersonic unmanned drones like the the SR-72. Each hypersonic unmanned drone would cost about $1 billion. This could appear as early as 2019. These will be mainly rare advanced spy planes.
* Better engines like the Uk Skylon system and better materials should be developed in the 2030s. The hypersonic systems will be more advanced and capable. There will be one and two stage spaceplanes and some costly hypersonic bombers

Low volumes of hypersonic missiles and anti missiles would mean that the new weapons would make some military targets more vulnerable.


This was a US military roadmap of hypersonic weapons

The US Navy is accelerating developmental testing of its high-tech, long-range Electro-Magnetic Rail Gun (EMRG) Hyper Velocity Projectile (HVP) — such that it can fire from existing weapons platforms such as an Army Howitzer.
The hypervelocity projectiles do not actually reach the definition of hypersonic which is mach 5 or faster. They will reach about mach 3.

The hypervelocity projectile (HVP) will cost about $25,000 per round.
Making ten thousand of the HVP would still cost $2.5 billion just for the large bullets and not for any other costs. Ten thousand HVP rounds would be ten shots per big 5 inch and 155mm gun.

It seems likely that the testing of hypervelocity rounds should be relatively simple in 2018. The US has one thousand 5 inch and 155 mm guns on navy ships and some ground vehicles. The production of tens of thousands of these projectiles should allow for first wide deployment in 2020-2022.

By 2024-2028, the hypervelocity rounds should be common for the militaries of all countries.

Railguns will be able to shoot at about mach 7.

Current railgun tests are at mach 5.8. Current test firing is at a few shots per hour as they work out the bugs, and by the end of the year they expect to reach the goal of 10 shots per minute. For comparison, a standard 5-inch deck gun can fire 20 rounds a minute, albeit only for a single minute before its quick-reload drum runs empty; the 16-inch guns on battleships fired about twice a minute.

It will then likely take 3 to 4 years for the rail gun barrel last for 1000 shots.

The current railguns fire a 16 kg slug at 2,000 meters per second (Mach 5.8), which takes 32 megajoules of energy per shot. 10 shots minute would need 20 megawatts of power. Only 11 nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and three Zumwalt-class destroyers currently have the power for a railgun.

Navy strategist Bryan Clark has proposed adding cargo containers full of batteries to convert EFP transports into expedient railgun platforms to shoot down incoming missiles. The batteries in one container could power about ten shots.

Early versions of the railguns will have deployment issues because of the power and cooling and other requirements. The first deployed systems should appear about 2025 and by 2030 there could be one to three dozen on ships and few more land based systems of the United States.

There could be a longer lag for other countries to deploy railguns as the US seems to be leading in this area.

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