Russian military officials claim they have created a fuel that will allow missiles to fly faster than five times the speed of sound. If true, it would put Russia at the head of the pack in a growing hypersonic arms race, according to the Moscow Times.
Hypersonic flight could slash missile flight times, allow missiles to avoid detection by other nations and upset the global military order. “The recipe has been created, and the energy accumulated in this fuel will enable our vehicles to exceed Mach 5,” General Dmitry Bulgakov, deputy defense minister, said on Tuesday, according to Tass. He was referring to the barrier between supersonic speeds and hypersonic speeds.
The United States, China, Russia and India have all announced projects to develop hypersonic missile systems. Russia and India recently joined forces to develop a cruise missile known as BrahMos, the fastest supersonic cruise missile in the world at speeds of about 3,675 kilometers per hour.
President Vladimir Putin has pledged to beef up Russia's defense forces in recent months amid growing tensions with the European Union and the United States due to conflicts in Ukraine. Putin said in 2013 that hypersonic missile development "could negate all previous agreements on the limitation and reduction of strategic nuclear weapons, thereby disrupting the strategic balance of power."
The head of Russia's Tactical Missiles Corporation, Boris Obnosov, said last year the company was working with various firms to develop a hypersonic missile. The hypersonic missiles fired at a shallow trajectory would glide warheads toward an objective after reaching a hypersonic speed. Their shallow approach would make them difficult to detect.
Last year, the U.S. tested its Advanced Hypersonic Weapons system, but it promptly exploded, causing undisclosed damage, according to the Guardian. A poll this week found Americans now consider Russia, not North Korea, the United States' greatest enemy. Two years ago, only 2 percent of Americans felt that way.