Andrei Raevsky sent me this first and now I noticed our friend Marko also had his hand on the pulse. So, here it is:
(CNN)The US suffered a setback in the race with China and Russia to develop hypersonic weapons when its latest test failed, the Pentagon said in a statement Thursday. A booster stack, which is the rocket used to accelerate the projectile to hypersonic speeds, failed and the test of the projectile, the hypersonic glide body, could not proceed, the statement said.Because the rocket failed the Pentagon was not able to test the hypersonic glide body, which is the key component needed to develop a hypersonic weapon.Officials have started a review of the test, which took place Thursday at the Pacific Spaceport Complex in Kodiak, Alaska, to understand the cause of the booster failure.
As I repeat ad nauseam: there are hyper-sonic weapons and there are hyper-sonic weapons. The United States is trying to come up with something like both Avangard (long-range) and Kinzhal (medium range) which are either ballistic or quasi-ballistic weapons which do fly either inside the atmosphere or bounce from its edge, such as those gliders akin to Avangard. Eventually, the United States will be able to come up with something like that and the US desperately wants something like Kinzhal (in effect an advanced airborne version of Iskander). These are weapons which have only a boost phase, after which they fly and maneuver without propulsion. Look also up project Kholod.
Now, 3M22 Zircon is a whole other animal altogether because it has a propulsion which works till the very end and thus provides this missile with the atmospheric speed of M=10 and the range of 1000 kilometers, coming modification of GZUR and Zircon will have the range of 1500 km and speed in excess of M=12-13. These weapons can attack both moving targets (like ships) and, obviously, stationary objects. These are the real game changers in a real war. If strategic weapons such as Avangard are what the United States wants, those, like any other deterrent exists to… deter merely by the threat of their use in case shit hits the fan. Kinzhal with Zircon, however, are the weapons of battlefield, because their main task is to sink enemy’s ships and blow up military facilities using non-nuclear ordnance, albeit these weapons too can carry nuclear warhead and can destroy a good size city. If Avangard was created to be uninterceptable by dedicated weapons of (strategic) Anti-Missile Defense, both Kinzhal and Zircon cannot be intercepted by existing air-defense and anti-missile systems such as THAAD or SM3/SM6 variety integrated with the AEGIS.
While Avangard, and Sarmat (especially Sarmat) render any anti-missile defense useless, Kinzhal and Zircon are the most impactful, because they change modern warfare radically and already made modern surface fleets obsolete even within non-nuclear paradigm. As I repeat ad nauseam about repeating this ad nauseam–this is a strategic catastrophe for NATO (and US) because everything what NATO’s “fighting doctrine” was built around in the last 40-50 years has become simply useless. I will give some ASW math on that later, but a single Yasen-class (pr. 885) with 15-20 Zircons “parked” somewhere in the Atlantic in 1000 kilometer range from D.C. is not only extremely hard to detect and will require enormous forces dedicated to this kind of ASW, but controls the movement of any US naval asset from Norfolk or any other base on the East Coast which in case of (God forbids) real war will not be able to deploy. Granted, of course, that Russia builds 10 of such subs, modernizes couple of pr. 949A to AMs (that is 72 cruise missiles, including God knows how many Zircons) and there you go. So, in other words, it is not going to be a single sub.
In related news, Russia officially announced the increase of range of venerable X-35 (of Bal complex) to 500+ kilometer, after Russkies were scared shitless by great American “strategist”, prognosticator, second coming of Clausewitz and Sun Tzu wrapped in one, really, the great heir to the intellectual prowess of Mahan and Zumwalt, David Axe who promised to starve Kaliningrad by Estonian 300 km range anti-shipping missiles. As you know, Shoigu and Gerasimov start their every morning by going to Forbes site trying to learn if David Axe has come up with a new stratagem designed to defeat those pesky Russkies. So, they went, saw the article on Estonian missiles, got scared and decided that covering both Baltic and Black Seas with the salvos (each of them) capable to contain between 16 to 32 X-35s is a really bad news for any NATO forces there, especially mighty Estonian ones. I would love to explain to David Axe basic math behind Salvo Equations and distribution of probabilities, but I don’t think he wants to lower himself to my primitive level, so I have to live with that and I am sure Shoigu and Gerasimov will continue visiting those “military” sites such as Forbes or The National Interests to partake in strategic and operational wisdom of their “experts”.