The United States, the United Kingdom and Australia are launched into the race against Russia and China

While Russia has claimed to have fired two hypersonic missiles in Ukraine, China already conducted a test of this type of missile last year and North Korea also claims to have fired, the United Kingdom, the United States (which is already testing) and Australia announced on Tuesday that it would jointly develop such weapons as part of its AUKUS security pact aimed at countering China’s growing influence in the region.

“We commit ourselves … today to begin new trilateral cooperation in hypersonic, counter-hypersonic and electronic means of warfare,” US leaders Joe Biden, Britain’s Boris Johnson and Australia’s Scott Morrison said in a joint statement, stating that they also agreed to “expand information sharing and deepen cooperation on defense innovation.”

Second test for the United States

This announcement comes as the US military announced on Tuesday that it had successfully tested a hypersonic missile for the second time. These missiles are faster, more maneuverable than standard missiles, and therefore more difficult to intercept.

Scientific arm of the US Army, the Darpa specified that the missile launched from an aircraft had traveled more than 300 nautical miles (550 km) at five times the speed of sound (at least 6,100 km / h), and reached an altitude of about 20,000 meters. It was the second test of the hypersonic missile HAWC (Hypersonic Air-Breathing Weapon Concept) with aerobic propulsion, that is, it uses the oxygen present in the atmosphere for its combustion. The previous test, in September, was done with a different launcher, Darpa said. According to CNN, the trial took place in mid-March and was kept secret until then to prevent any escalation after Russia invaded Ukraine.

“This testing of the Lockheed Martin HAWC has demonstrated the success of a second design that will allow our warfighters to select the best weaponry to dominate the battlefield,” said HAWC Program Manager Andrew Knoedler.

The Pentagon is also developing a hypersonic glider called the ARRW (pronounced Arrow), but its first full-scale test failed in April 2020.

Hypersonic missiles are designed to fly at high speeds and low altitudes, and to change direction in flight instead of following a linear, predictable path, making them difficult to intercept. China tested a hypersonic missile in August that circled the Earth in orbit before descending on its target, only missing by a few miles. Four years after presenting them, Russia claimed to have fired two of its next-generation missiles at Ukraine, described as “invincible” by Vladimir Putin. Russia has 7 such missiles.

Seven Russian hypersonic missiles

Avangard, “invincible” missile

The Russian Avangard (“vanguard” in Russian) hypersonic missiles are capable of changing course and altitude at very high speeds, which makes them “practically invincible” according to Vladimir Putin, who compares the scientific and military progress of their development “with the creation of the first artificial satellite of the Earth”, the famous Sputnik. Successfully tested in December 2018, its speed reached Mach 27, or 27 times the speed of sound, and it hit a target located some 6,000 km away, according to the Russian Defense Ministry. They were put into service in December 2019.

– Kinjal, hypersonic “dagger”

First used by the Russian military on Friday, hypersonic Kinjal (“dagger” in Russian) missiles allowed Moscow to destroy an underground weapons depot in western Ukraine. These types of highly maneuverable missiles are supposed to defy air defense systems. During the tests, they hit all their targets at a distance of up to 1,000 to 2,000 km. They equip the MiG-31 warplanes. Its use in Ukraine is a world first for hypersonic weaponry, experts say.

– Sarmat, from the North Pole to the South Pole

The fifth-generation Sarmat heavy intercontinental ballistic missile is also supposed to evade anti-missile defenses. Weighing more than 200 tons, it outperforms its predecessor – the Voevoda missile with a range of 11,000 km – and has “virtually no range limits”, according to Vladimir Putin, who designed it, judged capable of “targeting targets that They cross the North Pole as well as the South Pole.”

– Peresvet, combat laser

The technical characteristics of the Peresvet combat laser systems (named after a 14th century warrior monk) are secret. They have been combat-ready since December 2019, according to the Defense Ministry.

– Poseidon, underwater drone

The Poseidon, an underwater drone developed for Russian nuclear deterrence, will be able to move more than a kilometer deep, at a speed of 60 to 70 knots, while remaining invisible to detection systems, according to a source in the Russian industrial army. complex, cited by the official agency TASS. The tests of the Poseidon system were carried out in the spring of 2020 to finally equip the Belgorod nuclear submarine, a ship that was launched in 2019 but whose commissioning was postponed, according to the Tass agency, at least until the summer of 2022.

– Bourevestnik, the storm bird

Again with an “unlimited range”, always according to Vladimir Putin, and capable of overcoming almost all interception systems, nuclear-powered Burevestnik cruise missiles (a seabird whose Russian etymology is the word “storm”) are being developed by Russian military. . Its technical characteristics are secret.

– Zircon, “invisible” marine missile

The first official launch of the Zircon hypersonic missile (named after a mineral used in jewelry) dates back to October 2020. It flies at Mach 9 to hit sea and land targets. In late December 2021, Vladimir Putin announced a first successful test shot of a Zircon salvo. Other tests have been carried out since October 2020 in the Russian Arctic, notably from the Admiral Gorchkov frigate and a submerged submarine.

(with AFP)