“The West has started a great hypersonic arms race”

“The West has started a great hypersonic arms race”

Irina Alshaeva, Dmitry Mayorov

The United States, United Kingdom and Australia – members of the AUKUS military partnership, which was established in 2021 – have agreed to cooperate in the development of hypersonic weapons. “Gazeta.Ru” figured out what contribution each of the countries can make to cooperation on hypersound and why they need it.
“We have committed ourselves to launching new trilateral cooperation in the field of hypersonic weapons and means of protection against them, as well as means of electronic warfare. In addition, we have agreed to expand information sharing and deepen cooperation on advanced defense developments,” the White House said in a joint statement.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said that AUKUS plans to jointly develop hypersonic weapons “undermine peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region.” Beijing initially believed that the AUKUS partnership was directed against its interests.
“This not only increases the risk of nuclear proliferation, jeopardizes the international nuclear non-proliferation regime, but also exacerbates the arms race,” Lijian said.
Retired Major General of the Strategic Missile Forces Vladislav Ishchenko believes that the success of Russia and China in the development of hypersonic weapons became the reason for cooperation. “This is a completely new type of weapon against which modern missile defense systems are powerless. This changes the whole strategy of modern warfare. It was often said about hypersound that it would put an end to the “era of aircraft carriers.” One way or another, but this is a new page in military history, ”the general believes.
In mid-March, the United States secretly tested a hypersonic missile. After CNN told about the launches, the Pentagon officially recognized the tests.
We are talking about the launch of the Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept (HAWC) rocket. It was launched from a B-52 bomber. HAWC is the second American development in the field of hypersonics. Previously, the AGM-183 Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW) air-launched hypersonic missile project for the US Air Force was considered the most advanced. Their serial production was planned in 2022, but in 2021 the rocket failed three flight tests.
“In the planned joint project of the US, UK and Australia to create hypersonic weapons, Australia, rather, is the recipient of technology, it will invest financially. The UK and US can provide technology, especially the US, although they are not good with hypersonics – some systems have been canceled, others are being tested. In this program, the US is much more advanced than the UK and Australia. The US will help allies, not US allies. This is done because China is intensively developing hypersonic technologies, and the AUKUS coalition is aimed at containing China, ”an academician of the R-ussian Academy of Scien-ces , head of the Center for International Security at IMEMO RAS Alexei Arbatov told Gazeta.ru .
He noted that Australia wants to build submarines with nuclear engines, if hypersonic systems are compact – they can be placed in the launchers of these submarines.
According to military expert Dmitry Stefanovich, the United States, Great Britain and Australia decided to jointly develop hypersonic weapons “not from scratch.”
“The US and Australia are already working on the SCIFiRE project to develop and test prototype hypersonic cruise missiles. This project is the result of the previous one called HIFiRE. The new weapon will be a high-precision strike missile with a speed of Mach 5. It can be carried by the F/A-18F Super Hornet, EA-18G Growler and F-35A Lightning II tactical fighters, as well as the P-8A Poseidon maritime reconnaissance aircraft. That is, today the primary task of this project is the development of hypersonic weapons to equip tactical aviation,” Stefanovich said.
According to him, SCIFiRE is one of the public hypersonic projects in which there were many tests, there are open scientific publications on them, it started as an American-Australian project, but now it has been “brought under a triple umbrella.”
The intention of London to receive hypersonic weapons in January 2022 was told in an interview with The Times by the Chief of the General Staff of the United Kingdom, Tony Radakin. “We do not have hypersonic missiles, Russia has them. We must have them and start development, ”Radakin said.
According to Major General Vladislav Ishchenko, “the British are cunning in this matter.”
“They had developments before, but just not very successful. Thus, the British aerospace company Reaction Engines, together with BAE Systems, was developing the SABER engine. This installation was intended specifically for hypersonic missiles.
Now, along with the US and Australia, the UK has embarked on a great hypersonic arms race. The result will be unpredictable. Means of protection will be created, and then even faster missiles to overcome these means. And so on ad infinitum,” Ishchenko concluded.

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