Rise of hypersonic missiles render fleets obsolete

With the rise of hypersonic missiles, fleets have become largely obsolete, reduced as they are to huge sitting ducks. There is simply no defense for a large ship against an incoming MACH5 missile. Carriers can destroy small countries like Libya or Iraq, but not Russia and China.

Hypersonic weapons can achieve speeds over five times faster than the speed of sound (Mach 5) and they are the latest version of precision guided munitions (PGM) that make up part of the larger family of long-range strike weapons systems.

“Hypersonic weapons add to the complexity and elusiveness of the escalatory dynamics and this is something both sides will need to plan for”, says Eleni G. Ekmektsioglou from the American University’s School of International Service.

In the United States, hypersonic weapons are pursued in the context of the conventional prompt global strike (CPGS) commonly defined by officials as a technology of “high-precision conventional weapons capable of striking a target anywhere in the world within one hour’s time.”

Outside the United States, states such as China or Russia have been pursuing this promising technology in secrecy.

Chinese fears skyrocketed after President Barack Obama’s Prague speech and the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR). The Chinese understood America’s decreasing reliance on nuclear weapons as being tantamount to a greater reliance on conventional weapons—especially CPGS—where the United States enjoys an undeniable superiority.

Thus, the Chinese regard President Obama’s vision for a nuclear-free world as a trap that aims at containing China’s rise to power, Ekmektsioglou believes.

Russia has built a revolutionary new weapon system that can render enemy satellites and weapons useless.

Its Russian makers say it is a ‘fundamentally new electronic warfare system’ which can be mounted on ground-based as well as air- and sea-borne carriers.

‘The system will target the enemy’s deck-based, tactical, long-range and strategic aircraft, electronic means and suppress foreign military satellites’ radio-electronic equipment,’ Russia’s Radio-Electronic Technologies Group (KRET) Deputy CEO Yuri Mayevsky told Russian news agency TASS.

To comply with international weapons laws, the system will be mounted on ground-based, air-and seaborne carriers and not on satellites.

‘It will fully suppress communications, navigation and target location and the use of high-precision weapons,’ said adviser to the KRET first deputy CEO Vladimir Mikheyev.

The system will be used against cruise missiles and will suppress satellite-based radio location systems.