Possible Hypersonic Glide Vehicle Defense System On The Horizon 1150
Can China afford to have hypersonic Missiles to sink U.S aircraft carriers by 2020? Well, this is a wait and see situation. In November this year, this country tested what many would think of as the world’s first operational hypersonic weapon. Many however were not surprised by this progress because the Chinese zeal in inventing and developing powerful machinery, has long been known. But with this weapon, it adds another machine to China’s growing anti-access toolkit, which leaves the U.S a worried lot. The U.S military planners in the Pacific have been left in a dilemma after watching this.
What Did China Test?
This is not the first time that China has conducted a test on a hypersonic weapon. They have been doing that over a decade ago, trying to identify if a weapon will be powerful enough. But what got everybody to talk about this new system is that it looks like it’s going to be a prototype for a deployable capability. Ankit Panda of the Diplomat reported that the ever first test of the DF-17 ballistic missile was carried out on November 1, 2017. But there was a need for a second test, which occurred this year on November 15th. During the testing, a hypersonic glide vehicle (HGV) detached from the missile and flew approximately 1,400 kilometers to the target. That took place during the reentry phase.
The People’s Liberation Army Rocket (PLARF) had also tried to test a similar missile. But it appeared to be a shorter-range missile. But with DF-17 many would like to think of it as a modified version of what the PLARF tested. This missile that China tested goes to a longer distance to the target, and whether the payloads are nuclear or conventional, it can still deliver, only that users have to be strategic and operate it carefully.
The United States does not, however, expect the vehicle to start being functional until 2020. But even by then it is likely that the PLARF may have widely expanded the means by which it can be able to deliver and deploy an HGV. If this missile enters service it would make China reach farther into the Pacific and even worse the United States will have a difficult time attacking the launch points since it will allow bases to extend deep into the Chinese interior.
What’s the Function of Hypersonics?
Hypersonic cruise missiles have been existing ever since. The only difference with this new HGV from China is that it glides to a target much differently and less predictable than the traditional missiles. The path that it takes to glide is also lower and slower than a normal ballistic but much higher and faster than a traditional cruise missile. There are also other features that enable the HGV to be easily maneuverable hence making it possible to strike mobile targets such as aircraft carriers.
Any Strategic Effect of That?
The work of an operational hypersonic system is to replace the currently existing ballistic missile defense system. So that other influential countries, that includes South Korea, Japan and the United States depend on such defenses entirely. Because they can travel at breakneck speeds on low attitudes and are difficult to predict trajectories, HGV might soon be replacing the traditional missile.
Whether or not China can use this hypersonic machines to sink the US in 2020 remains undetermined. But the one thing that can be speculated is that indeed this weapon is powerful because of the fast travel speeds and easy to hit the target. It remains unknown of how much China spent to produce and how much they will spend, but we can be sure it is not cheap.