Hypersonic Missiles Are Not True Military Game Changers

Hypersonic weapons missiles and hypersonic planes will provide new military capabilities. They would be harder to shoot down than slower missiles and could extend the range of air attacks. However, anti-missile systems have only been proven somewhat effective against crappy third-rate missiles or against slower cruise missiles. ICBM missile defenses are currently garbage. Therefore, hypersonic missiles do not change the military balance of power because regular missiles are still as effective and hypersonic missiles will not be produced in significant numbers for a long time.

Russia and China are deploying hypersonic missiles as the warheads boosted by regular rockets. The USA became motivated to get serious about hypersonic missiles with the deployments by Russia and China. The USA invested in hypersonic missile and weapon development for decades without ever getting close to deploying real weapons. They are now spending billions to develop and deploy hypersonic missiles and weapons.

Hypersonic missiles and weapons development are technology to future-proof weapons against surprise developments in defense capability.

The United States Patriot and THAAD and Israel’s Iron Dome are short-range anti-missile systems that have been effectively used in real combat situations.

Russia has the S-400 anti-missile system which claims to have a longer effective range and can theoretically engage faster targets. The system has no combat record but has been deployed by several countries. The S-400 is a lot cheaper than US anti-missile systems.

The US has spent over $40 billion on two national missile defense installations. One is in Alaska and one for Hawaii.

A 2012 National Academy of Sciences study basically believes the current system is overpriced and will not meet objectives and almost everything has to be overhauled. The Pentagon’s own testing officials have said the system has not demonstrated an operationally useful capability to defend the US public from a missile attack.

There are only 36 anti-missile missiles. If everyone anti-missile was able to take out an incoming weapon then over 36 enemy missiles in an attack overwhelm this capability. However, the simplified tests where everyone had days of notification and preparation were only successful in about 1 out of 3 and 2 out of 4 tests. If there was no notification and even simple counter-measures with radar confusing chafe, then it is likely the anti-missiles would completely fail or only work at best 1 in 4 times.

There is really no change in the current military situation with hypersonic missiles. Regular missiles from the US, China and Russia were still going to succeed in hitting their targets and hypersonic missiles will also succeed.

Hypersonic missiles just take away the relatively small chance for a near-term defense breakthrough to succeed in defense some of the time.

SOURCES – Shielded from Oversight, The Disastrous US Approach to Strategic Missile Defense, Defense World
Written By Brian Wang, Nextbigfuture.com

17 thoughts on “Hypersonic Missiles Are Not True Military Game Changers”

  1. WTF are you talking about? It is well known that the Russians have “sea skimmer” anti ship missiles and a large variety of them.

  2. Hundreds of Patriots and Aegis Ashore failed to stop a small handful of cheap drones and cruise missiles from decimating Saudi Aramco facility. Clearly, it doesn’t take much to overwhelm them. As for strategic weapons, a single mirved ICBM with ten warheads and 50-100 decoys would use up all 36 interceptors and still likely defeat the “defense”. 36 missiles would become 360 warheads and thousands of decoys and would render any defensive measures as utterly irrelevant.

  3. Yes, but a senior weapons analyst should be able to look at the dimensions of comparable missiles and make a well-informed guess–especially if the advantage is 100% or more, which it appears to be.

  4. There’s quite a bit of bunk information in this post. There aren’t 36 missiles between VFB and FG, there’s 44 and they’re being upgraded to 64. Granted that isn’t much better, have any of you seen a GMD missile? It’s the size of an ICBM, this is not some kind of SM-3 sized vehicle we’re talking about, they don’t just fly off a production line. They’re huge and complex.

    Second of all, several successful flight tests have taken place since DoD officials criticized GMD’s operational effectiveness – namely the salvo mission FTG-11, which was a massively resounding success that demonstrated some classified abilities that people love to armchair-expert claim US BMD can’t do.

    Upgrades and overhauls to BMD are definitely in work. A lot of updates and improvements to range facilities, tracking and control, ground systems. All this stuff is bid and awarded and in work.

  5. You have to know more about the missile than simply its max velocity because the problem with Russian supersonic anti-ship missiles is that they’re not sea-skimming, so you don’t really reap all of the reduced reaction time benefits you’d think you do because you’re detectable further off, because you’re higher off the water, you’re visible further over the horizon. A hypersonic missile does become harder to track and interdict, but it’s too simplified to say it becomes impossible. You have to consider the flight profile.

  6. Yes, too simplistic at least as it pertains to nuclear weapons. There are so many launchers spread out over large geographical areas that eliminating all of them (in any country larger than Rhode Island) is next to impossible. Nukes are still the ultimate insurance against ever being invaded, heck of a deterrent.

  7. Hyper sonic anti-ship cruise missile are most definitely a game changer for inexpensively negating American naval power.

  8. All these new and extremely expensive weapons are old think. The world has more than enough to kill us all. Surely what we need to do is concentrate on things that really matter. Support for the disadvantaged in our societies, help to developing democracies around the world, improve our trade with others so that they can succeed, sort out the pollution of the air we breath etc etc. The Chinese government’s real worry is trying to suppress the freedom of their own people. That is why they spend vast sums on surveillance and imprisoning those who don’t agree with their ideas.
    Remember Eisenhower “military industrial complex”

  9. I was under the assumption the advantage of hypersonic missiles particularly nuclear is first launcher’s advantage. That is if the missiles are particularly quick in being delivered, if you fire first and the other party doesn’t respond quickly enough, you can strategically attack and destroy the other parties chance to respond.

    Is that being too simplistic?

  10. In virtually every missile class Chinese missiles outrange ours by significant margins.

    I suspect that their propellant chemistry may be more advanced than ours. It would be a very Chinese thing to do: tweak existing chemistry and double your fun.

    Does anyone know the current state of propellant art?

  11. Hypersonic missiles restore the strategic deterrent undermined by the failure of ballistic missile defense treaty. That is the main reason for their existence. Another reason is the anticipated and now complete failure of intermediate missile treaty: with such weapons potentially based in Europe or Guam, Russia and China are forced to re-assign strategic ballistic missiles from deterrence to suppression role, effectively giving USA a military advantage that tilts the deterrence balance. That balance is the only reason there has not been a big war since 1945. To that end, the USA strategic command chief expressed that in simple terms.

    “In fact, I know what a world without nuclear weapons looks like, because we had a world without nuclear weapons until 1945.”

    The context of that quote is the balance of strategic deterrent balance that was achieved via several treaties. Before the balance was created, with first Soviet nuclear test in 1949, nuclear weapons were used in war, and plans for their ongoing use were made.

    Early U.S. nuclear war plans involved only the bombing of cities: the 1948 war plan FLEETWOOD “called for the use of 133 bombs in a single massive attack against 70 Soviet cities.” War plan TROJAN “provided for a total of 300 atomic bombs to be dropped on Russia and included the all-out bombing of Soviet cities and industry.”


    The change is the restoration of strategic balance.

  12. ..It all depends on how many defense penetrating missiles you manage to build and what do you load them with when you launch them.

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