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Advantages of Hypersonic missiles | Disadvantages of Hypersonic missiles

This page covers advantages and disadvantages of Hypersonic missiles. It mentions benefits or advantages of Hypersonic missiles and drawbacks or disadvantages of Hypersonic missiles.

What is Hypersonic ?

The term "hypersonic" in aerodynamics domain refers to any device moving at the speed of five times greater than the speed of sound. In numeric terms, speed of hypersonic aircraft is about 3000 miles per hour. Hypersonic speed is also called as "Mach 5" speed. There are three speed variants viz. low hypersonic, hypersonic and high hypersonic. Example of a low hypersonic speed aircraft is X-15. Mach number is defined as ratio of speed of aircraft to speed of sound. Hypersonic uses Mach 5 to 10 where as supersonic uses Mach 1.2 to 5.

Hypersonic Missiles

There are many applications of hypersonic travel but mainly the technology is used in hypersonic glide vehicles (HGVs) and hypersonic cruise missiles (HCMs). As of 2021, three countries viz. Russia, China and United States are involved in the development of hypersonic weapons. A rocket is used to launch HGVs which fly at lower altitutes in comparison to ballistic missiles. Engines known as "Scramjets" are used to power HCMs which fly at greater speed and at higher altitudes than cruise missiles. The figure depicts one of the applications of hypersonic missiles.

Benefits or advantages of Hypersonic missiles

Following are the benefits or advantages of Hypersonic missiles:
➨Hypersonic missiles travel at the speed of five times greater than speed of sound waves.
➨HGVs are cost effective compare to cruise and ballistic missiles.
➨HGVs are less likely to be detected by their adversary radars as they fly at lower altitudes.
➨HCMs fly at lower altitude than ballistic missiles and higher altitude than cruise missiles. Moreover HCMs fly at greater speed than cruise missiles.
➨Hypersonic vehicles course correct their flight path between source and target.

Drawbacks or disadvantages of Hypersonic missiles

Following are the drawbacks or disadvantages of Hypersonic missiles:
➨Average speed of hypersonic missiles is lower than ballistic missiles due to drag from surrounding air.
➨In the case of HGV missiles, the materials erode and alter the aerodynamics due to extreme heating.
➨Due to extreme heat, communication between satellite and missile and other external control system gets blocked. Hence control of hypersonic missiles is limited.

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