December 29, 2017

The efforts of China, Russia and the US to develop hypersonic missiles1.

These are maneuverable missiles that travel at some 4,600 miles per hour or about five times the speed of conventional missiles.

They can utterly overwhelm existing missile defense systems. The efforts to develop them are at the cusp of succeeding. The strategic implications are huge and destabilising—since they can make a first strike a winning strategy rather than a suicidal one.

RAND has published on this2, and it has been reported by some specialist publications, but the mainstream press seems to have ignored their report.

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Introduction to this Under-reported series.

Summary guide to all under-reported articles in this series.

FOOTNOTES
  1.  The Sun reported last month that “Russia has confirmed its hypersonic missle that can destroy the Royal Navy’s top warships in a single strike are ready “as of today”. Vladimir Putin’s defence boss reportedly confirmed the weapons, which can travel up to SIX times the speed of sound at 4,600 mph and reportedly more than 600 miles, were ready for war… Zircon missiles can cover 155 miles in just 2.5 minutes, which is faster than a bullet from sniper’s rifle.”
  2.  The Rand Corporation’s September 2017 report concluded: “There is probably less than a decade available to substantially hinder the potential proliferation of hypersonic missiles and associated technologies. To this end, the report recommends that (1) the United States, Russia, and China should agree not to export complete hypersonic missile systems or their major components and (2) the broader international community should establish controls on a wider range of hypersonic missile hardware and technology.”

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