How have hypersonic weapons changed the data of modern military action?

This week again, hypersonic weapons represented a significant part of the world defense technology news. In Russia, engineers have announced that they have successfully the first launch of the 3M22 Tzirkon missile from the frigate Admiral Gorshkov, while the development ofa mini version of the Kh47M2 Kinzhal airborne missile was started with a view to being able to use it from the bunkers of the new 5th generation Su-57 fighter. In the United States, it was the US Army which presented a reduced model of its Long Range Hypersonic Weapon, a hypersonic land launcher missile due to conduct its first test in 2023.

In this article, we will study the reasons why the great world armies, in the United States, in China, in Russia and in Europe, engage so intensely in the development of these systems, as well as the technological stakes and challenges to raise to achieve this, in order to understand how hypersonic weapons have changed the data of modern military action.

Hypersonic, that is to say?

A system is said to be "hypersonic" when it is able to evolve and maintain a speed greater than or equal to Mach 5, or 6.174 km / h, or even 1.715 meters per second. This speed was already reached and even exceeded by the majority of ballistic missiles, which are however not qualified as hypersonic weapons. Indeed, traditional ballistic missiles, like their warheads, do not evolve at this speed, and are content to follow their ballistic trajectory. It is also at these speeds that the physical phenomena of molecular dislocation of ambient gases appear, generating a characteristic plasma, creating numerous technological challenges that engineers in each country must meet.


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