Russia conducted a successful test fire of its Tsirkon hypersonic cruise missile that has a range of between 400-1000 kilometers and can travel at a claimed speed of Mach 9, which is 9 times the speed of sound.
Before that China conducted a missile test that involved a hypersonic launch vehicle that circled the globe at speed of Mach 5 before firing a missile into the sea. The secrecy surrounding the test was so much that it was conducted in July, but details have emerged only recently.
Both the tests mentioned above show how world powers are racing to develop hypersonic missiles that have a better chance of beating missile defence systems. Hypersonic missiles are those that can travel at speed of at least Mach 5, that is five times the speed of sound. Among other advantages, it gives very less time for the target country to activate missile defence systems. With advancement of missile defence systems technology, it has become imperative for military planners to design weapons that can evade the defence systems.
It is in that context that the Chinese test is extremely important. The test demonstrated the capability to fire a projectile (a smaller missile) from the hypersonic launch vehicle (main missile). This means, the hypersonic missile could fire a smaller missile and destroy the incoming rocket fired by the missile defence system before moving towards the target. On the other hand, it could also mean that the hypersonic launch vehicle could fire the missile as it senses the rocket fired by the missile defence system coming towards itself. Since the missile fired by the hypersonic launch vehicle will have a different trajectory (path), it could possibly evade the missile shield.
China, of course, has denied that it has tested a new weapon, instead saying it was testing a reusable space vehicle.
Russia has two other missiles that it claims could circumvent missile defence systems, the Sarmat intercontinental missiles and the Burevestnik cruise missiles.
It remains to be seen how America responds to the missile tests by its two adversaries, but American experts are worried that both Russia and China may now have found a way to overcome the US’s missile defence systems.
Over the last two decades, when America was busy fighting futile wars in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, China as well as Russia have been acquiring military technology at an alarming pace.
About the Author : Writer Shweta Pandey has been associated with reputed media houses since long and has witnessed many major political events closely. She has authored this write up for KSHVID NEWS NETWORK. Views expressed here are her personal opinion /analysis. She is based out of Delhi (india).