Last month, Russia and China each demonstrated hypersonic vehicles capable of rapidly delivering nuclear warheads to any locations in the world, with no present or near-term interception defense. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitri Rogozin compared the importance of these new weapons as on par with nuclear arms development.
He declared, “Whoever is first to achieve” mastery of hypersonic weapons will “overturn the principles” of how wars are waged.
China conducted its seventh successful hypersonic vehicle test just three days after Russia demonstrated its second . . . a 3M22 Zircon hypersonic glider launched atop a SS-19 ballistic missile from a base near the Kazakhstan border.
An armed version is scheduled to go into operation by 2018 aboard a new Pak DA stealth bomber now under development. Jane’s Intelligence Review reports that Russia may be able to deploy up to 24 hypersonic nuclear delivery vehicles from their Dombarovsky air force base between 2020 and 2025,
Beijing’s DF-ZF hypersonic glide vehicle fired from the Shanxi Province Wuzhai launch center in central China has reportedly reached speeds over 7,000 miles per hour. The Congressional Sino-U.S. Economic and Security Review Commission reports that the program is “progressing rapidly," and that a new strike weapon could be deployed by 2020.
A powered version (rather than glider) under development may be fielded by 2025.
The commission reported that “The very high speeds of these weapons, combined with their maneuverability and ability to travel at lower, radar-evading altitudes, would make them far less vulnerable than existing missiles to current missile defenses.” A capacity to transport nuclear warheads at 10 times the speed of sound exceeds the ability of conventional ballistic missile defenses to prevent them from reaching U.S. homeland.
Former Pentagon strategic forces policymaker, Mark Schneider, observes: “U.S. programs involving hypersonic vehicles are modest by comparison.” He added, “I would be surprised if we actually deploy one. If we do, it will likely be conventional. Russian hypersonic vehicles will likely either be nuclear armed or nuclear-capable since this is the norm for Russia.”
A U.S. Army hypersonic test vehicle exploded about a year and a half ago. The Pentagon has stressed that the U.S. hypersonic program will not carry nuclear weapons.
Washington Free Beacon national security reporter and senior editor Bill Gertz warns about America’s vulnerability to high speed hypersonic attacks. Quoting China National Security Policy Committee researcher, Li Bingyan: “Only by matching real-time information with zero-time firepower [lasers] can one achieve the operational result of destruction upon detection.”
Yet out of DOD’s $7.5 billion 2017 budget, only $23 million is provided for a low-power laser capable of targeting hypersonic weapons. No tests of that capability are planned until 2021 . . . years after Russia and China are expected to deploy operational capabilities.
According to A U.S. Department of Defense report, from 2005 through 2014 China’s annual defense spending adjusted for inflation rose an average 9.5 percent annually, while U.S. outlays averaged just under 0.4 percent. Included are advanced Chinese naval developments such as “supercavitation” technology which allows torpedoes to travel at the speed of sound (which is 3,320 miles per hour under water).
It reduces water drag by creating a bubble of gas for the missile to travel through, enabling those launched from Shanghai to reach San Francisco in less than two hours.
Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala., chairman of the House Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee, told the Washington Times: “I’m troubled that Russia and China continue to outpace the U.S. in development of these prompt global strike capabilities, complain about our tepid development programs, and the Obama administration’s ideological reductions to the Missile Defense Agency budget have denied that agency resources to do anything to develop defenses.”
Responding to China’s most recent DF-ZF vehicle test, retired former U.S. Navy Pacific Fleet intelligence director Captain Jim Fanell observes that: “The threat of hypersonic missile attack not only impacts conventional warfare scenarios like we are seeing develop in the South and East China Sea, but it also puts U.S. nuclear defense strategies at risk.”
Also reported in the Washington Free Beacon, House Armed Services subcommittee on sea power Chairman Randy Forbes, R-Va. said: “Beijing is committed to up-ending both the conventional military and nuclear balance, with grave implications for the stability of Asia.”
President Obama has clearly followed through on his pledge made during a 2009 Prague speech that “To put an end to Cold War thinking, we will reduce the role of nuclear weapons in our national security strategy.” There should be little wonder then, why Vladimir Putin saw no good reason to attend the nuclear summit photo-op event he hosted last month in Washington.
As Mikhail Ulyanov of the Russian foreign ministry explained at the time, “We don’t really know what the point of this summit is.” It seems that the Russians and Chinese never read that White House memo.
Larry Bell is an endowed professor of space architecture at the University of Houston where he founded the Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture (SICSA) and the graduate program in space architecture. He is the author of “Scared Witless: Prophets and Profits of Climate Doom”(2015) and “Climate of Corruption: Politics and Power Behind the Global Warming Hoax” (2012). Read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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