High-speed weapon to match U.S. prompt strike weapons
Russia conducted a flight test of a revolutionary hypersonic glide vehicle last week that will deliver nuclear or conventional warheads through advanced missile defenses, U.S. defense officials said.
The test firing of the hypersonic glider took place Tuesday and involved the launch of an SS-19 intercontinental ballistic missile from eastern Russia, said officials familiar with details of the test.
Russia’s state-run Interfax news agency confirmed the test on Thursday.
Pentagon spokeswoman Lt. Col. Michelle Baldanza said: “While we have seen the reports in the media, the Department of Defense has nothing to offer on this.”
Tuesday’s test was only the second known test of a new hypersonic glider. An earlier test took place last year.
China and the United States also are developing hypersonic missiles, both gliders and jet-powered vehicles that travel at extreme speeds.
China has conducted six tests of its DF-ZF hypersonic glider.
Hypersonic missiles are being developed to defeat increasingly sophisticated missile defenses. The weapons are designed for use in rapid, long-range strikes.
Interfax, quoting a source familiar with the Russian test, confirmed it involved a “prototype hypersonic aircraft” that will be deployed on current and future long-range missiles.
Hypersonic speed is between Mach 5 and Mach 10, or 3,836 miles per hour to 7,673 miles per hour. Hypersonic weapons pose technological challenges for weapons developers because the speeds create high heat and pressure that make flight and precision targeting difficult.
Russia has made developing hypersonic weapons a high priority.
“Russia has an extensive program underway on hypersonic vehicles,” Schneider said. “This year the Russian state media is reporting that a hypersonic cruise missile is being developed for Russian naval vessels including the ‘5th generation’ Husky missile submarine that is now under development.”
The new anti-ship missile, known as Tsirkon, will be in operation by 2018. Russian press reporting has indicated that the new Pak DA stealth bomber under development will also be armed with air-launched hypersonic missiles.
“U.S. programs involving hypersonic vehicles are modest by comparison,” Schneider said. “I would be surprised if we actually deploy one. If we do, it will likely be conventional. Russian hypersonic vehicles will likely either be nuclear armed or nuclear capable since this is the norm for Russia.”
Jane’s Intelligence Review disclosed last year that the Russian hypersonic strike vehicle is called the Yu-71. The report said the Russians could deploy up to 24 hypersonic gliders as nuclear delivery vehicles at Dombarovsky between 2020 and 2025.
Full article: Russia Tests Hypersonic Glide Vehicle on Missile (Washington Free Beacon)