Because of their speed and ability to maneuver unpredictably in mid-flight, hypersonic missiles are significantly more difficult to intercept. However, according to a think tank, fake Dust Walls could defeat these hypersonic weapons.
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According to a new study (read below), the US may protect itself against hostile hypersonic gliders by releasing clouds of dust across wide areas where such weapons are predicted to fly. High-speed travel through such an area would damage and possibly destroy the weapon.
The Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS), a Washington-based think-tank were the one’s who thought up this idea in a study published this week. According to the researchers it “was made possible by support from Raytheon Technologies and Lockheed Martin.”
The concept is similar to one proposed by US strategic planners during the Cold War’s height against the Soviet Union. At the time, the plan was to plant nuclear explosives near US intercontinental ballistic missile launchers.
In the event of a nuclear conflict, the explosives would detonate minutes prior to when the Soviet nukes struck. With hundreds of thousands of tons of radioactive dust and debris, enemy reentry vehicles approaching at high speeds would be disabled by the particles, freeing up American missiles for retaliation.
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The modern-day version would employ the same notion of exposing a fast-moving weapon to a cloud of dust that it was not equipped to resist.
According to the study “Absent heavy mitigation measures, disruption of the hypersonic flowfield could lead to progressive deterioration of performance or a mission kill, if not outright catastrophic failure.”
The particles would be designed to stay airborne for tens of minutes in the thin upper portion of the atmosphere, through which hypersonic gliders traverse, requiring less precision in the countermeasure’s timing.
The fake dust could be metallic, pyrotechnic, or formed of another substance, and it could be released from a missile or an airborne platform.
“Given the higher speeds earlier in the flight of a hypersonic glider, a ‘wall of dust’ would be more effective earlier rather than later in its flight,” the study suggested.
Other options for dealing with hypersonic weapons even gliders and cruise missiles, were considered in the study. They included anything from positioning anti-missile capabilities in such a way that enemies would be forced to devise less favorable assault trajectories, to utilizing intense microwaves to fry the missile’s electrical components and even attempting to obliterate them with laser guns.
Because of their speed and ability to maneuver unpredictably in mid-flight, hypersonic missiles are significantly more difficult to intercept by traditional means than earlier ICBMs that follow predictable trajectories.
As part of its nuclear deterrence force, Russia deploys the Avangard, a hypersonic glider that it claims is operational. China is rumored to have sophisticated versions of this type of weaponry as well.
Since 2002, when it withdrew from a deal with the Soviet Union that banned both countries from developing essential technologies, the United States has been investing substantially in its national anti-ballistic missile system.
Moscow has stated that it needed to acquire hypersonic power in order to counteract the deterioration of its nuclear deterrence as a result of the United States’ developing anti-missile capabilities.
Last year, a senior professor at Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, Valery Golubkin, was accused of sharing classified information to a NATO country and locked up for betrayal. He was arrested for leaking top secret documents related to Russia’s hypersonic plane to an unspecified NATO country.
Read the study below: