Sourced : International Business Times
By James Billington
Russia claims to have created a devastating hypersonic missile that travels five times faster than the speed of sound and could rip through navy warship defences because it’s too fast to stop.
The Kremlin’s 3M22 Zircon (Brahmos II) missile has been called “unstoppable”, “unbeatable” and “undefendable” with a 4,600mph speed that only one defence system in the world can destroy – that system is owned by Russia.
The missile employs revolutionary scramjet technology to reach its hypersonic speeds whereby propulsion is created by forcing air from the atmosphere into its combustor where it mixes with on-board fuel – rather than carry both fuel and oxidizer like traditional rockets. This makes it lighter, and therefore much faster.
It uses no fans, rotating turbines or moving parts – just an inlet where air is compressed and a combustor where the air is mixed with fuel. Fewer moving parts also means less chance of mechanical failure.
The 3M22 Zircon has been in testing stages this year and would be capable of destroying the world’s most advanced warships and aircraft carriers in one strike and could be put into action by 2020. The US Navy warns it could be fitted to Russia’s nuclear-powered Kirkov warship, where it would have a range of up to 500 miles.
In comparison, the Royal Navy’s Sea Ceptor missile, which is designed to destroy incoming missiles can only travel 15 miles and hit top speeds of 2,300mph.
This presents a huge concern for the Royal Navy and the vulnerability of its new state-of-the-art £6bn ($7.5bn) aircraft carriers the HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales, which wouldn’t be able to defend against the Zircon. The only way to protect against the Zircon would be to anchor out of its range, which would render many aircraft carriers useless as it would push their planes too far away from targets before they would need to return for fuel.
A senior Naval source told the Mirror: “Hypersonic missiles are virtually unstoppable. The whole idea of the carrier is the ability to project power. But with no method of protecting themselves against missiles like the Zircon the carrier would have to stay out of range, hundreds of miles out at sea. Its planes would be useless and the whole basis of a carrier task force would be redundant.”