US, WASHINGTON (ORDO NEWS) — At the end of last year, during a meeting with senior army officials, Russian President Vladimir Putin proclaimed that his country had finally gained superiority over its eternal rival to the United States. Then he also said that the first military unit, armed with the new Avangard hypersonic missile system, took up combat duty.
“Vanguard” has an allegedly intercontinental range and can reach speeds 20 times the speed of sound. The President spoke of “absolute weapons” that can penetrate any missile defense: “Today we have a unique situation in our new and recent history: they are catching up with us. “Not a single country in the world has hypersonic weapons at all, and continental-range hypersonic weapons — all the more so.”
Hypersonic weapons are systems that can develop five times the speed of sound, which corresponds to 6,000 kilometers per hour. For comparison: Lockheed SR 71 Blackbird is considered the fastest turbojet aircraft, which in the 70s set a speed record of 3,500 kilometers per hour.
This new technology, along with the use of artificial intelligence and cyber warfare methods, is considered to be equally promising and dangerous in the world of military technology, because it is extremely difficult to intercept aircraft moving at such a speed.
Hypersonic weapons: who dominates the arms race?
The reason is that conventional rockets and other aircraft follow a certain ballistic trajectory. As soon as they start, the air defense systems calculate their trajectory and place of impact and inform the missile defense.
“The new thing about hypersonic weapons is that they can maneuver when driving at high speeds,” says weapons expert Professor Joachim Krause of Kiel University. The United States, Russia, China and France are working, according to Krause, to develop such weapons.
However, the question of whether the United States was in the development of these types of weapons in the tail of Russia, and China, is debatable. The answer to it depends on how observers evaluate the impact of this process on the strategic distribution of forces in the world and in certain regions.
For example, German Minister of Defense Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer / CDU, according to Tagesspiegel, is concerned that the pace at which China develops these systems could upset the balance of power in East Asia.
Experts share her concerns. “At the global level, hypersonic weapons will not fundamentally change the balance of power,” says, for example, security expert Torben Schütz from the German Society for Foreign Policy Policy (NWP). – But much says that at the regional level it will lead to significant changes. So the United States believes that China’s armament with hypersonic weapons threatens their bases and ships in East Asia, and they are now deciding whether to find a military-technological response to this process or to leave the region altogether.”
The South China Sea is considered one of the centers of military and political conflicts. China, in violation of international law, lays claim to certain territories there and intends to defend them by force.
Krause also sees the main danger in the zone of influence of China, rather than relations between Russia and the United States. “The fundamental principle of nuclear strategic stability between the US and Russia – mutual assured destruction – does not change, in any case, as long as there are atomic weapons on strategic submarines.”
But in East Asia, in his opinion, the situation is different: if China supplies its medium-range missiles with hypersonic equipment, it will threaten American military bases and ships in the region, which currently protect it relatively well from conventional and cruise missiles .
Federal Foreign Office also recognizes danger
Krause: “In this regard, China’s investments are strategically significantly more important and are forcing the United States to respond to these innovations by developing new weapons or revising its promises to protect this region, that is, withdrawing its military from there.”
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Germany also recognized this danger. Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (SPD) said in 2019 that Germany was about to take advantage of its Council of Europe presidency, beginning in July, to initiate a global dialogue on missile technologies, including hypersonic weapons. This is a good idea, according to Schutz from the NOVP: “Preventive arms control can make the world more secure in the field of hypersonic weapons, if all participants in the process are ready for this and come to a unified solution.”
But, apparently, the crisis with coronavirus has shifted priorities. True, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs continues to declare that bringing the arms control system in line with modern technologies, such as hypersonic weapons, will continue to be one of the priority areas of German foreign policy. But the Ministry of Foreign Affairs does not make any concrete promises regarding future steps in this direction.
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