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Billion-dollar advanced missiles ‘are white elephants’

The Pentagon is spending US$3.2 billion (A$4.2 billion) over the next year and plans to spend billions more in future years in developing them.

But a study, published in the journal Science & Global Security, says they will not offer the US a military edge because they are slower and more susceptible to detection than the country’s existing ballistic missile systems.
A file phot of a Russian Zircon hypersonic cruise missile launched from the Admiral Groshkov frigate, in the White Sea, north of Russia. (Russian Defence Ministry via AP)

Using computer modelling, the study finds that hypersonic gliders deliver weapons more slowly than ballistic missiles during intercontinental flights due to drag effects and can be detected by space-based sensors because of the heat from of their atmospheric flight. And their ability to manoeuver is exaggerated.

“Hypersonic missiles are not the revolutionary technology they’re claimed to be,” Cameron Tracy, co-author of the research study and Kendall Fellow for the Global Security Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), said.

“The United States is spending vast sums of money on these new weapons that will perform worse, in many ways, than the ballistic missiles we already have.”

Last year the Australian Government announced it will develop hypersonic cruise missiles in a joint project with the US.

It followed a defence review, in which Australia set aside up to $9.3 billion for high-speed, long-range missile systems, including hypersonic research.

An artist impression of a hypersonic missile under development for the US military. A new report says the advanced weapons (Supplied)

“Hypersonic missiles don’t perform as advertised,” Dr Tracy said.

“In an era of increasing demands on economic resources due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States can’t afford to buy weapons that won’t make the nation any safer and will drive a dangerous arms race.”

Source: 9News | World News

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