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Jun 25, 2019

Hypersonic Missiles Are Unstoppable. And They’re Starting a New Global Arms Race

Posted by in category: military

The arrival of such fast weaponry will dangerously compress the time during which military officials and their political leaders — in any country — can figure out the nature of an attack and make reasoned decisions about the wisdom and scope of defensive steps or retaliation. And the threat that hypersonics pose to retaliatory weapons creates what scholars call “use it or lose it” pressures on countries to strike first during a crisis. Experts say that the missiles could upend the grim psychology of Mutual Assured Destruction, the bedrock military doctrine of the nuclear age that argued globe-altering wars would be deterred if the potential combatants always felt certain of their opponents’ devastating response.


At War

The new weapons — which could travel at more than 15 times the speed of sound with terrifying accuracy — threaten to change the nature of warfare.

A Mach 14 Waverider glide vehicle, which takes its name from its ability to generate high lift and ride on its own shock waves. This shape is representative of the type of systems the United States is developing today. Credit Credit Dan Winters for The New York Times.

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