Understanding the Dynamics of Hypersonic Missiles in Advance Missile Defense System

Missile defense systems are designed to counter aerial threats for varied distances, including short, extended, medium, to long-range threats. As global tension and instability rise, many emerging countries have increased their defense investment in implementing missile defense systems.

Defending against fast and agile missiles requires an improved and layered defense architecture that includes advanced sensors in space, missile interceptors, directed energy weapons, and non-kinetic methods. Hypersonic missiles move at five times the speed of sound.

Countries are taking the threat of hypersonic weapons seriously and figuring out solutions to counter the attacks from their rivals. Rapid advancements in hypersonic weapon technology and resultant strategic threat generate the necessity of counter-hypersonic weapon systems.

What are hypersonic missiles?

A hypersonic missile is a weapon system that flies at Mach 5, i.e., five times the speed of sound. Moreover, these missiles are maneuverable, i.e., hypersonic missiles do not follow a ballistic trajectory and can be deployed to the intended target.

The maneuverability of the hypersonic missiles sets them apart from ballistic missiles as the latter follows a set course or a ballistic trajectory.

There are two types of hypersonic weapons in advanced missile defense systems, i.e., hypersonic glide vehicles (HGVs) and hypersonic cruise missiles.

The HGV is launched from a rocket before gliding to the intended target. At the same time, the hypersonic cruise missile is powered by air-breathing high-speed engines or ‘scramjets’ after detecting its target.

Advantages of Hypersonic Missiles

The evasive capabilities of hypersonic missiles have enough range to cover continents, making them potent offensive weapons. With their fast-traveling capability, they form a layer of a plasma cloud in front of their warhead that blocks radio waves and thus protects them from detection.

Significant developments in the field of missile defense system technologies have resulted in growing interest and escalating demand for advanced missile defense systems for different military platforms such as air, land, sea, and space. The growth in the global advanced missile defense system market is expected to be driven by the increasing defense budgets of countries across the globe.

According to a recent report by BIS Research, the global advanced missile defense system market was valued at $21.82 billion in 2021, which is expected to grow at a CAGR of 2.18% during the forecast period 2022–2032 and reach $27.05 billion by 2032.

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When other forces are either unavailable, have denied access, or are not preferred, hypersonic weapons can enable responsive, long-range strike options against distant defended and time-critical threats.

Advancements in Hypersonic Weapons

The key trends in the advanced missile defense system include the growing regional threat protection. The improving economic conditions of emerging economies, as well as the rising cross-border infiltration, terrorism, and geopolitical instability, have created the demand for air defense systems that can safeguard a nation from aerial threats.

Many emerging countries, such as India, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey, are looking to implement a layered approach to air and missile defense systems to counter aerial threats from hostile nations and terrorist outfits. If global tension and instability rise, many emerging countries could increase their defense spending on implementing missile defense systems.

The growing need for specialized technical expertise and raw material to manufacture sensitive onboard electronics, radar array modules, seeker infrared (IR) sensors, and proximity fuses to fulfill military standards might help new entrants to penetrate hypersonic weapons manufacturing.

Conclusion

Hypersonic missiles have become one of the most sought-after types of missile systems due to their purported ability to defeat their opponents. They have been envisioned both as nuclear weapon delivery systems that would enable an assured second-strike capability and as conventional precision-strike or rapid response weapons.

With innovative advancements in the global advanced missile defense system market, rising investment across hypersonic missile capabilities can be observed, and this is driving the investments across comparable missile defensive capabilities.

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