With Rolls-Royce joining the race to develop hypersonic missiles, London now seems to be setting the stage for its answer to Russia’s threat to annihilate the UK with a hypersonic weapon.
UK-based Express reported that the British company Rolls Royce is working to develop a hypersonic missile to counter Moscow’s threat. The report highlighted that the country has a reputation for producing high-speed weapons, such as the MBDA Meteor missile, which can travel at a speed of about Mach 4.
Missiles that can go faster than Mach 5 are hypersonic missiles. Mach 5 missiles have a remarkable speed of 3,836 mph, more than six times the speed of an average commercial airliner.
The report noted that the missile could travel from the UK to Moscow in less than 30 minutes. Furthermore, the country has already handed a contract to Rolls-Royce and its industrial partners in 2019 to develop hypersonic aircraft propulsion technologies.
Earlier, the US awarded contracts to two major firms to build a hypersonic missile defense system to intercept such weapons mid-flight.
The latest report does not detail the missile’s development timeline. Nevertheless, the hypersonic race appears to be led by China and Russia, with North Korea also claiming to be working on hypersonic weapons.
On the other hand, despite efforts to accelerate the development of its hypersonic missile, recent tests by US military forces have failed.
Russia’s Threatens To Attack Britain
The UK’s biggest threat at the moment arises from constant rhetoric from Russian state television implying that Britain could be destroyed by nuclear weapons in just 200 seconds using hypersonic nuclear missiles.
On Russian television, mock-ups of the Sarmat missile, also known as the SATAN 2, which can carry up to 14 warheads and travel over 11,200 miles, are frequently shown to target countries worldwide.
A Russian Politician, Aleksey Zhuravlyov, on a television program hosted by Olga Skabeyeva and Evgeny Popov said, “One Sarmat [missile] and that’s it – the British Isles are no more.”
Skabeyeva, who has been dubbed the “Iron Doll of Putin TV” for her criticism of opposition groups, cautioned, “but we are serious people,” and she was reassured that Zhuravlyov was “saying that sincerely.” They are blaming us for engaging in state terrorism, she added.
Following that, the program displayed a schematic demonstration of how the missiles might be fired from Kaliningrad, a Russian outpost situated between Poland, Lithuania, and the Baltic Sea.
According to the demonstration, a nuclear strike could completely destroy Berlin in 106 seconds, Paris in 200 seconds, and London in 202 seconds, as previously reported by the EurAsian Times.
The new Russian Sarmat ICBM will team up with several Avangard hypersonic glide vehicles, according to previous statements made by Col. Gen. Sergei Karakev, commander of the Russian Strategic Missile Force. The development of Avangard signaled the beginning of the era of hypersonic weapons, Karakev noted.
Similar concerns are being raised due to China’s technological advancement in hypersonic tech.
China tested a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile that circled the globe before accelerating toward its target in August 2021. This demonstration of an advanced space capability caught US intelligence off guard.
North Korea also allegedly started working on testing its hypersonic missile program in January this year. According to state media, the missile turned successfully before striking its target in the water some 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) away.
UK’s Efforts To Develop Hypersonic Tech
Following the war between Russia and Ukraine, Britain has stepped up its efforts to develop hypersonic weapons. The United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence recently announced the development of a new weapon demonstrator capable of operating at hypersonic speeds against future threats.
The nation will also research AI technologies to determine how they might benefit front-line service personnel. Additionally, it will enhance space-based intelligence, communication, and surveillance capabilities.
In April 2022, AUKUS, the trilateral security agreement between the US, UK, and Australia, was expanded to include “cooperation on hypersonic and counter-hypersonic” weapons.
Early this year, the UK’s Chief of Defense Staff, Tony Radakin, stated that his nation is working on hypersonic weapons to counter Russia’s growing military power. “We haven’t [got them], and we must have,” he said.
The conflict in Ukraine has elevated missiles to the top of many nations’ priority lists. Russia tested approximately ten of its Tsirkon hypersonic cruise missiles from a frigate and two more from a submarine before it invaded Ukraine.
In the meantime, France and the UK are working together to develop a new missile. The missile is a stealthy hypersonic missile currently in the planning and development stages. The ramjet-powered missile can be used for air and submarine land strikes and anti-ship operations.
The accelerated development of the joint missile program would be advantageous given how unstable Europe’s security situation is.
Although hypersonic weapons are undoubtedly novel, experts believe they won’t significantly alter the balance of power between the United States, Russia, and China because these countries already have enough nuclear missiles to thwart an opponent’s defenses.