Do you want to learn how hypersonic weapons work? If so, keep reading!
In the 21st century, hypersonic weapons are being developed with the sole purpose of destroying enemy aircraft and missiles at incredible speeds. Hypersonic weapons are costly, but their effectiveness makes them worth every penny.
What Are Hypersonic Weapons?
Hypersonics are weapons that are designed to travel at very high speeds. These include missiles, rockets, and bullets. Their primary advantage over conventional weapons is that they allow the delivery of warheads with larger payloads, which increases their accuracy and lethality. For example, if a traditional bullet travels at around 730 mph, a hypersonic one could go into space and come back down again without experiencing any drag effects. Another benefit of hypersonics is the ability to evade anti-missile defenses.
Hypersonic weapons were first tested during World War II. Some of the earliest rocket engines were developed during the 1930s precisely to propel missiles. Most of these early test vehicles failed due to technical limitations. By the mid-1950s, however, several nations had successfully built working prototypes. Since then, research and development programs have continued, resulting in many different designs.
Most hypersonic weapons are classified as either nuclear or non-nuclear. Nuclear ones are usually based on atomic propulsion technology, while other methods propel non-nuclear ones. Some hypersonic weapons can even be launched from airplanes or spacecraft. Many of these are being developed as part of the United States Ballistic Missile Defense System. There are three major categories of hypersonic weapons. These are air-breathing, solid fuel, and liquid fuel. Each class has specific advantages and disadvantages.
Air Breathing Weapons
These are most commonly known as scramjets. They are fueled by compressed air instead of traditional fuels like kerosene or gasoline. Because of this, they are not affected by weather conditions or atmospheric turbulence. As a result, they can easily maneuver through the atmosphere. While these weapons do have certain benefits, there are also drawbacks. They require much more complex systems and are thus harder to manufacture. Also, they cannot be refueled in flight, so they must be carried to their destination. Finally, they typically only reach maximum speeds of about Mach 5.
Solid Fuel Weaponry
This includes hypergolic and ramjets. Solid fuel means the weapon uses an oxidizer and power such as hydrogen peroxide or nitric acid. The oxidizer provides heat for combustion, while the energy provides thrust. When used with an ablative material, solid propellant produces far less toxic exhaust fumes than its liquid counterpart.
Liquid Fuel Weaponry
This weapon uses liquid oxygen and kerosene or alcohol to produce thrust. Liquid fuel weapons can reach speeds up to Mach 20 but generally operate at lower altitudes. The U.S., Russia, China, India, Israel, France, Germany, Japan, South Korea, Turkey, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia possess hypersonic weapons. However, no country has publicly admitted to having them.
What is the fastest hypersonic weapon?
According to the Federation of American Scientists, the United States Air Force’s X-51A Waverider was the first hypersonic aircraft to fly. Launched in 2004, it reached a top speed of 3,600 miles per hour. This made it the fastest vehicle had ever passed until 2011, when the Chinese Y-20 Flying Shark broke that record. It achieved a top speed of Mach 10.5.
In 2007, the United States Navy began testing a new cruise missile called the Hypersonic Conventional Strike Weapon under Project Sea Dragon. Its goal was to achieve a top speed of 1,500 miles per hour, enough to outrun existing ballistic missile defense systems. Unfortunately, the project failed after the test vehicle crashed during its descent into Earth’s atmosphere.
How can Hypersonic Weapons Be Helpful?
These weapons are helpful because they provide a high degree of accuracy. They also have a wide range of applications. These weapons can be used for targeted strikes against enemy airfields, command centers, and other strategic locations. Also, they can be used for precision bombing missions. Some are designed for long-range space travel, while others focus on short-range air combat.
Long-Range Space Travel:
These weapons are usually launched from an airplane or rocket, and they then travel through outer space to reach high speeds. The best known of these weapons is the Delta IV Heavy, which SpaceX is currently testing. Its primary purpose is to launch satellites into orbit.
Short Range Combat:
If you’re interested in short-range combat, you’ll probably want a ground-based version. These weapons don’t need to travel through outer space. Instead, they use a liquid oxygen/kerosene propellant combination to increase their top speed. The best-known weapon of this sort is the ASRAAM, which Raytheon is currently developing.
As previously mentioned, hypersonic weapons are used for offensive and defensive purposes. Offensively, hypersonic weapons can destroy enemy troops on the ground. Defensively, they can be used to intercept incoming missiles and aircraft.
How can be Hypersonic weapons be harmful?
Hypersonic weapons have been shown to cause severe damage to infrastructure. For example, the U.S. military built a massive mockup of the state of Texas to simulate how a terrorist attack would affect the area. While the mockup was destroyed before any real damage could occur, the experiment showed just how devastating hypersonic weapons could be if they were deployed.
One concern about hypersonic weapons is the possibility of triggering thermonuclear reactions. If one of these weapons were detonated over a city, it could cause widespread devastation. Another danger is that they could be used to deliver biological agents or chemical warfare agents.
Can we defend a Hypersonic Weapon?
Unfortunately, most defenses against hypersonic weapons are not very effective. Some of them may even make things worse. Most securities involve creating a barrier between the hypersonic missile and the target. But this barrier will reflect any incoming missiles, making them easier targets. Other methods include using radar to track incoming missiles, making the system vulnerable to attacks.
The UU.S.military has announced plans to develop hypersonic missiles with speeds up to 20 times faster than any current weapon. It says its goal is to create a missile capable of reaching targets anywhere in the world within 30 minutes – a speed so fast that its target would be unable to evade it.