Something must be done! We’re losing the war already, and it hasn’t even started! Here’s a piece from the Guardian (online):
‘In his interview, [Admiral] Radakin [the UK’s new chief of the defence staff] . . said the UK needed to develop hypersonic missiles to keep up with the military competition. He highlighted Russia’s hypersonic and long-range missile capability as a threat and Britain’s comparative capabilities as a weakness. “We haven’t [got them] and we must have,” he said.’
A new arms race is what’s needed, and instead of 1960s-style talk simply referring to ballistic missiles, let’s now talk hypersonic ballistic missiles. Russia must have thousands of them by now, and ours are just rusty old Tridents. I’m no expert (of course) but a search on Wikipedia says that Trident missiles have a speed of up to 19 Mach. An article in Defence IQ says ‘Russia has deployed an operational hypersonic system, the Kh-47M2 Kinzhal air-launched ballistic missile, capable reportedly of attaining a speed of Mach 10 and a range of 1700 miles, and is believed to be close to deploying a hypersonic cruise missile, the 3K22 Tsirkon. The Tsirkon, a sea-and ground-launched missile is intended to attain high supersonic to hypersonic speeds, between Mach 4.5 and Mach 6, and have a range of 300-620 miles. Russia has also developed an intercontinental ballistic missile-launched hypersonic glide vehicle, Avangard, which may enter service in 2019.’ (article dated August 2018)
Clearly I need to keep up. It’s all in the definitions. A ballistic missile achieves a high arc trajectory and then glides down to its target. Once it starts its glide I suppose it’s less controllable. But these new fangled hypersonic missiles will be propelled for their entire journey and so can be steered—a more precise weapon perhaps. As we know, this new age of precise weaponry can be operated at distances of thousands of miles at little risk to their controllers, but they generally still kill more civilians than baddies (I believe Obama holds some kind of world record in authorising missions of this sort). What’s amazing is the fact that Russia is so far ahead of the West in this new technology. I still (wrongly) imagine many Russian offices populated by old computers with Cathode Ray Tube monitors and dial-up analogue telephones. How condescending of me, clearly. Nevertheless I am reminded of a story from the seventies when a Soviet Union pilot defected to the west in the latest Soviet jet (MIG25—story here Defection of Viktor Belenko - Wikipedia ). The story was that when the plane was taken apart it was found to be much less advanced than previously thought. Indeed, some suggested that the Soviets had deliberately retained some old technology which was impervious to modern electronic counter measures. Valves and that sort of thing. Conclusion: I don’t believe a sabre-rattling word. It’s a game which keeps elites safe in their self-appointed status as national guardians (and ‘Patriots’ © K. Starmer).