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