American experts compared the promising developments in the field of hypersonic weapons, which are Russia and the United States. We are talking about weapons capable of reaching speeds above Mach 5 (Mach 1 or 767 miles per hour is the speed of sound in air at low altitude at 20 degrees Celsius).
As noted by The National Interest, such weapons in the future could have a serious impact on the strategic balance in the world. As an example, the Russian hypersonic weapons are anti-ship missiles “Zircon” aviation cruise missile Kh-32. Already there is information that during the tests, the “Zircon” reached a speed of Mach 8, and the range of its actions is at least 400 kilometers. The missile could enter service in 2019-2020, and in the worst case, if the work be delayed in the middle of the 2020-ies.
But the X-32, developed specifically for the upgraded long-range bomber Tu-22M3M, is already in the final stages of testing. The publication will take her to the rocket boundary between supersonic and hypersonic for Mach speed from 4 to 4.5. But as the benefits of X-32 to indicate its ability to fly most of the distance at a height of 40 to 45 kilometers, and then came down on goal. This reduces air resistance and overheating and to avoid failure of the electronics that is the main problem of supersonic weapons.
However, the most challenging and promising Russian hypersonic project, The National Interest believes an Intercontinental ballistic missile RS-28 “Sarmat”. Unlike conventional warheads, which enters the atmosphere at hypersonic speeds, it has the ability to maneuver in the atmosphere and fly in a trajectory different from the trajectories of ballistic missiles. The publication recognizes that to seize the “Sarmat” is almost impossible. In addition, he can hit targets with greater accuracy than conventional warheads, and thus able to use non-nuclear warheads on Intercontinental distances. The publication said that the work on this project, apparently, is successful, and even taking into account possible delays in its implementation the production of ICBMs “Sarmatian” can start at the beginning or the middle of the 2020-ies.
In the US, hypersonic projects developed under the initiative of Prompt Global Strike. It was tested two competing developments – Advanced HypersonicWeapon (AHW) and HypersonicTechnologyVehicle 2 (HTV-2). Of these, only one test of the AHW in 2011 was successful, although detailed information about it there. However, the last test launch in 2014 was unsuccessful.
The main problem faced by the developers was the loss of communication during flight. Apparently, this happened due to the formation of a plasma cloud and the subsequent failure of the electronics. The solution to this problem is a cornerstone in the development of hypersonic technologies in General. Further work on HTV-2 is not planned. As for the AHW, there is no information about whether further testing is carried out – the publication reads.
It is also reported that the United States is cooperating with Australia in the framework of the research project HIFiRE (Hypersonic International Flight Research Experimentation Program). Was already conducted several launches of hypersonic aircraft, and in July 2017, the developers managed to reach a speed of 7.5 Mach. On the other hypersonic project Tactical Boost Glide (TBG), developed on the experience of the HTV-2 and funded by DARPA (Agency promising research defense) has already spent $ 147 million.
The National Interest also focuses on works on creation of rockets of the X-43A and X-51 WaveRider, capable of accelerating to 9.65 and 5.1 Mach, respectively. In the first case, however, the rocket engine worked only eleven seconds and the second about six minutes, which allowed us to travel 426 kilometres. However, the X-51 was not even a control systems and warheads, while ensuring stable operation of the electronics on the aircraft with hypersonic speed is one of the most difficult tasks. Another promising project is to develop a hypersonic unmanned spy plane SR-72, which must achieve a speed of Mach 6. His appearance is scheduled for the beginning of 2030-ies.
Comparing the capabilities of Russia and the USA on creation of hypersonic weapons, The National Interest also mentions China. But its development is little known. Information was leaked about the project, only DF-ZF. This device was tested seven times, but test results remain a mystery. According to some DZ-ZF was able to achieve a speed of Mach 5-10.
To create production models of hypersonic weapons will take many years of hard and expensive work… At the same time, according to available information, Russia is one step closer than the others, although the gap with competitors minimum – recognizes the American edition.