By David Crane
david (at) defensereview (dot) com
June 14, 2015
Right now, just about everyone and their mother is writing about the hypsersonic missiles that China and the U.S. are respectively developing in preparation for an eventual military encounter between the two countries, which many people now think is almost inevitable at some point. The encounter, if/when it happens, will most likely either lead to or be part of World War III (WWIII), and hypersonic missiles and aircraft will most likely play a major role in it. It’s yet to be determined just how good/effective the Chinese WU-14 hypersonic glide vehicle (HGV) is at present, but it was first detected “flying at extremely high speeds over mainland China on January 9 ”, and it’s asumed that the HGV is launched via ICBM (Intercontinental Ballistic Missile), which means it will be able to reach the U.S.
Basically, the HGV will separate fromt he ICBM in space about 62 miles above the earth’s surface, and zoom into the atmosphere toward the target (most likely major cities) at over Mach 10 (7,680 mph). On June 11 (2015), the Washington Free Beacon reported that the HGV was tested successfully for the fourth time the previous week. What’s worse, the WU-14 HGV is reportedly capable of maneuvering around America’s anti-ICBM missile defense system and successfully delivering a rather large thermonuclear payload to our cities. Terrific. Just what we need. As if the Chinese DF-21D ASBM (Anti-Ship Ballistic Missile) wasn’t a large enough threat to America’s warfighting capability, by itself.
So, the U.S. is in the rare position of catch-up mode, with major defense contractors like Raytheon wanting to get into the hypersonic missile game. In fact, Raytheon just received $20 million from DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) to make it happen as soon as possible, with the DoD’s goal to have a working Mach 5+ hypersonic cruise missile within five (5) years to go along with the rocket-launched Mach-20 (13,000 mph) Lockheed Martin Falcon HTV-2 (Hypersonic Technology Vehicle-2) hypersonic intercontinental ballistic missile system in a one-two-punch missile cocktail for the Chinese, or any other potential mortal enemy. The current name of the program is the Raytheon-DARPA Tactical Boost Glide (TBG) system. The TBG would be a shorter-range missile than the HGV, and would be aircraft-launched. The Boston Globe reports that the TBG hypersonic cruise missile would be launched from conventional aircraft, but DefenseReview (DR) would prefer that it also be capable of being hypersonic-aircraft launched. We’d also hope that it’s maneuverable enough to evade any/all anti-missile defense systems the Chinese and the Russians (or anyone else) may have.
But, let’s get back to World War III with China. If/when it happens, it could theoretically happen over their taking back of Taiwan, or over their support of Middle-Eastern countries like Iran against Israel. The Chinese state media (the propaganda arm of the Chinese government) is already taking a beligerent stance over “reclamation of land around islands it says are part of its territory”, according to the International Business Times. Whenever and however it happens though, hypersonics will likely play an important role, and be vehicles of psychological intimidation and possibly even mass destruction on both sides. Defense Review hopes that if/when WWIII happens, Russia (and India) are on America’s side, and not China’s. Hopefully, the Russians and Germans would be willing to fight together against a common enemy. Unfortunately, Russia itself has been busy lately buzzing U.S. military surveillance aircraft in an “unsafe and unprofessional” manner, and the Ukraine’s plan to deploy S-300 air defense systems in Odessa to counter and potentially shoot down Russian aircraft will only exacerbate an already tense Russian-American relationship. Just this past week, a Russian Sukhoi SU-27 Flanker fighter aircraft came within 10 feet of a U.S. RC-135U aircraft “flying a routine flight over the Baltic Sea”. That’s pretty close, folks…much too close. So, let’s just hope the U.S. and Russia can get all this nonsense behind us before the big dust-up with China. Otherwise, we may just end up fighting a Sino-Russian martial/military alliance that makes fighting WWII Nazi Germany look like a relative cakewalk. That would NOT be good.
The Chinese have a saying (a curse, really): “May you live in interesting times.” Let’s just hope things don’t ever get that interesting (again) on this earth.
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Raytheon Small Tactical Munition (STM) Laser-Guided Mini-Gluide Bomb/Precision-Guided Munition with Semi-Active Laser-Seeker and GPS/INS Guidance for Close Air Support (CAS) and Ground-Attack Missions