How fast are they, and are they that dangerous?
What is a hypersonic missile? This is a question that many people are asking lately, as Russia has been using them more and more in their military operations.
A hypersonic missile is a type of weapon that travels at speeds of five or more times the speed of sound. This makes them very difficult to defend against, as they can reach their target faster than conventional missiles.
This blog post will discuss hypersonic missiles and why Russia has been using them more frequently.
What are hypersonic missiles?
Russia has claimed to have twice deployed its new Kinzhal hypersonic missile in eastern Ukraine, saying on Sunday it had hit a fuel depot near Mykhailiv, and on Saturday it had struck an underground missile and ammunition store in the west.
According to CNN’s Natasha Bertrand and Jim Sciutto, US officials confirmed to CNN last week that Russia launched hypersonics missiles at Ukraine last week, the country’s first known use of such weapons in combat. According to several sources, the U.S. was able to track the launch of the satellites in real-time.
The launches were likely meant to test Russia’s new weaponry and send a message to Western countries about their capabilities, multiple sources told Reuters.
The state news agency said the attack was the first use of the new missile since the start of the conflict in Ukraine, and western analysts say it was the first time hypersonics have been used in combat.
The missiles can be fired to deliver conventional warheads faster and more accurately than others. They could also be used to fire nuclear weapons. Several countries are working towards developing this technology, including China and America.
President Vladimir Putin has highlighted Russia’s investment in high-speed missiles, which can travel up to five times the speed of the sound, or Mach 5, according to BBC News.
According to Russian officials, the Kinzhal missile can hit targets up to 2,000 kilometers away and fly at speeds greater than 6,000 kilometers per hour. But does that make these weapons any more dangerous than other weapons, which can cause just as many deaths and destructions?
Why is Russia using hypersonic missiles?
Vasily Kashin has said that the greater penetration and destructive force of the Kinzhal missile would be more effective than conventional weapons at destroying underground bunkers. Still, other experts have pointed out that it would not have a significant effect on the course of the war.
A Russian military expert says the new cruise missile could give a psychological and propaganda effect but doesn’t say whether Russia has run out of other options.
A Belgian defense strategist, Joseph Henrotin, also tweeted that Russia might run out of Iskander missiles or wanted to increase the stakes by deploying a nuke-capable hypersonics missile.
He also claimed the move would be a way for Russia to say it is still a significant player on the world stage despite being subject to Western sanctions.
Here’s how hypersonic missiles work
The hypersonic missile Kinzhal is one of several high-tech weapons Russia unveiled in 2018, including a nuclear-powered cruise missile.
The Russian president Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin has called them an “ideal weapon,” and they’ve been deployed so far on his country’s aircraft, such as the MiG 31 fighter aircraft.
According to Russian media sources, Kinzhal missiles rapidly accelerate to more than four times the speed of sound shortly after launch and reach speeds of up to 12 times the speed of light (9,200 mph) with a range of more than 1,800 miles (2,900 km).
The very high speed at which the missiles were fired made them able to penetrate heavily armored military targets, such as the Ukrainian underground weapons depot said to be the target for the latest missile attack.
Experts say the Kinzhal missile has the potential to be an effective weapon against U.S. aircraft carriers. But one analyst says the main advantages are psychological rather than strategic.
“It does not change the battlefield, but certainly has an effect in psychological propaganda, to scare everybody.” After Russia’s most recent attack, the Russian military analyst and journalist Pavel Felgenhauer told Euronews.
Hypersonic weapons travel faster than Mach 5, making them difficult for missile defense systems to detect. Hypersonic missiles travel at a much lower trajectory than high-arcing ballistic missiles, which can easily be seen. Hypersonic weapons can also maneuver and evade conventional missile defenses.
The Pentagon has made hypersonic weapons development one of its top priorities, mainly since China and Russia are working on their versions.
Hypersonic missiles are difficult to detect and can evade conventional missile defenses. They have the potential to be an effective weapon against U.S. aircraft carriers and be psychologically demoralizing for opponents. Russia has been using hypersonic missiles in combat since 2014, and other countries, including America, are working on developing this technology.