Hypersonic missiles are a type of weapon that can travel from one place to another at a very high speed, around 6,115 km per hour. A combination of technologies and manoeuvrability is needed to create these weapons as hypersonic flight poses lots of challenges.
Significance of Hypersonic missiles
Hypersonic missiles can take missile warfare, particularly nuclear warfare, to a new and, for many, frightening — level. Hypersonic missiles can travel much faster than current nuclear-capable ballistic and cruise missiles at low altitudes, can switch direction in flight and do not follow a predictable arc like conventional missiles, making them much harder to track and intercept.
Types of Hypersonic Weapons
Several countries are developing hypersonic weapons, which fly at speeds of at least Mach 5 (five times the speed of sound). There are two primary categories of hypersonic weapons:
- Hypersonic glide vehicles (HGV) are launched from a rocket before gliding to a target.
- Hypersonic cruise missiles are powered by high-speed, air-breathing engines, or “scramjets,” after acquiring their target.