The US is aiming to deploy hypersonic weapons by the mid-2020s, but both Russia and China claim that they are on track to deploy significantly quicker – putting the US at a potential disadvantage. Russia claimed in 2019 that their ‘Avengard’ missile was operational, and has recently upgraded Kh-32’s with the capability to carry hypersonic missiles, while China has developed the DF-17, which could potentially strike the US mainland if fired from a naval vessel. The recent GlobalData report ‘Hypersonic Technologies’ discusses in depth the leaders and challengers in this industry, and breaks down the likely industry developments over the next 10 years.
William Davies, associate analyst at GlobalData comments: “With a recent admission that China is ahead of the US in hypersonic weapons development, the US is continuing investment which previously included major contracts to develop their own hypersonic weapons (Hacksaw) and developing a common missile body for use by multiple military branches (C-HGB).”
The ability of Hypersonic Glide weapons to rapidly maneuver presents a challenge in terms of tracking and the development of anti-satellite systems (ASAT) by both Russia and China is a threat to the US’s existing missile warning systems.
The US is keen to develop better-networked missile detection systems by developing effective advanced tracking and interception technologies, and this investment is likely to fuel significant advances in the field. Within this scope, the Pentagon has announced plans to develop an early warning and tracking satellite system and have awarded contracts to L3Harris and SpaceX.
Davies continues: “In addition to new satellite arrays the Pentagon is also investing in ways to intercept hypersonic missiles, awarding contracts to Northrop Grumman at the beginning of 2020 as part of its Glide Breaker program. Crucial to these countermeasures will be the ability to detect and track incoming strikes and these satellites will provide that capability. The aim for these new contracts is for a direct connection between this satellite tracking layer and weapons systems currently in development to counter potential strikes.”