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Britain to make late entry to hypersonic race – media

The UK will build its own Mach 5 missile, but the project will reportedly take six years

Britain aims to develop and field its first hypersonic cruise missile by 2030, The Telegraph reported on Saturday. However, the project is reportedly in its early stages, and even if London sticks to its schedule, the weapon will be deployed more than a decade after Russia’s first hypersonic missile entered service.

The British Defense Ministry aims to design and build a missile capable of reaching speeds of Mach 5 entirely domestically, and to have it enter service before the end of the decade, the newspaper reported, citing anonymous sources.

The project will be one of several funded by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s planned £75 billion ($95 billion) hike in military spending, which was announced earlier this week and will be implemented over the next six years, the sources said.

“Cutting-edge projects like this are only possible because of the massive new investment the government has made this week in defense innovation,” a ministry official told the newspaper, adding that “continuing this project would be impossible” if the Labour Party took power and “refused to match our investment.”

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FILE PHOTO: A MiG-31 fighter jet armed with a Kinzhal hypersonic missile.
Hypersonic weapons promised six years ago now in service – Putin

It is unclear whether the government revealed the project to The Telegraph to score political points against the Labour Party, or whether any concrete plans to develop the missile have been set in motion. According to the newspaper, the ministry has yet to decide whether it wants the missile to be launched from land, air, or sea, and sources involved in the project said that the weapon could be built from materials that do not yet exist.

The government has been soliciting bids from defense contractors since last December, according to a publicly viewable tender.

Both the UK and US are currently lagging behind Russia and China in the development of hypersonic weapons. Russia’s first hypersonic missile – the air-launched Kh-47 Kinzhal – entered service in 2017, while China’s DF-ZF was deployed two years later. Russia’s Avangard strategic range glide vehicles – which can fly at 25 times the speed of sound – have been fielded since 2019, and its Zircon anti-ship cruise missiles have been deployed since last year. Kinzhal and Zircon missiles have both been used in Ukraine, making Russia the only world power to use hypersonic missiles in combat.

Less than a month into the Ukraine conflict, US President Joe Biden admitted that Russia’s Kinzhal missiles are “almost impossible to stop.”


READ MORE: US cancels hypersonic missile test – Pentagon

The US carried out its first successful hypersonic missile test in 2017, but after a series of aborted tests and scrapped projects in the years since, has yet to actually field such a weapon. After several years of delays, the US Army plans to deploy a long-range hypersonic missile known as ‘Dark Eagle’ next year.

April 28, 2024 at 08:43PM
RT

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