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  • It's three AM somewhere in the Pacific, and an American Carrier Strike Group is under

  • attack.

  • Enemy attack submarines have penetrated the outermost defensive layer, but aren't within

  • striking range yet.

  • The group's two accompanying attack subs and the carrier's anti-submarine warfare aircraft

  • are busy pinpointing and destroying the small fleet of enemy subs.

  • It's easy work, the Chinese subs are loud and not nearly as sophisticated as the American's,

  • but there's a lot of them.

  • And to make matters worse, they're carrying a brand new type of weapon.

  • The Chinese subs finally get within weapons range and with a loud rush of bubbles, discharge

  • several surface-attack missiles each from their torpedo tubes.

  • The noise alerts the Americans to their precise location, but that doesn't matter anymore,

  • as the Chinese subs quickly cut and run after launching their deadly payloads.

  • Moments later, the torpedo-tube launched surface-attack missiles pop to the surface where their rocket

  • motors fire, sending them screaming up into the sky.

  • In seconds they're already hitting several thousand feet in altitude.

  • Inside the Combat Information Center of the two defensive American AEGIS cruisers, the

  • Tactical Action Officer- Air, calls out the missile attack- eighteen Vipers are in the

  • air and headed for the battle group.

  • The battle link that electronically connects the entire battle group together works to

  • immediately train all available air defenses on the incoming missiles.

  • The Chinese missiles have risen to about ten thousand feet, then activated their onboard

  • radars to locate the American fleet.

  • Aligning themselves with the battle group, the missiles immediately dive down to just

  • fifty feet off the breaking waves.

  • Now they fire their engines in full burn, hitting an incredible 11,000 mph (17,700 kmh),

  • or Mach 14.5.

  • Over a hundred miles away, the incoming vipers will reach the battlegroup in less than ten

  • seconds.

  • The AEGIS battle system sends out powerful pulses of radar to track each incoming viper,

  • then activates a second, higher precision radar to provide fine-tuned precision guidance

  • to a salvo of interceptors.

  • Acquisition and firing takes up to five seconds- leaving only four seconds to intercept each

  • incoming missile.

  • But there's a problem.

  • The Chinese missiles are so fast that they're building up a layer of superheated plasma

  • around the front of the missile body, scrambling incoming radar waves.

  • The American AEGIS system can't get an accurate lock, and the intercepting missiles are largely

  • ineffective.

  • Out of 18 incoming vipers, 16 of them survive- and there's no time for a second intercept.

  • The battlegroups CIWS (see-whiz) weapons have already been trained on the incoming threat

  • and begin firing tungsten rounds at thousands of rounds a second.

  • But the radar-mounted guns are having the same problem that the AEGIS system had, the

  • plasma around each missile is making it almost impossible to get an accurate radar lock.

  • Two more missiles are destroyed, fourteen remain.

  • In the blink of an eye, the carrier receives a direct hit from five Chinese missiles, blowing

  • giant holes in the side of the ship and setting off secondary explosions from jet fuel and

  • munitions.

  • The submarine-launched missiles are too small to sink the mighty carrier, but it will be

  • forced to limp back to the US for repairs, and several hundred sailors are dead.

  • The carrier and its entire air wing are effectively out of the war.

  • An accompanying destroyer and the two attending AEGIS cruisers aren't so lucky, and two of

  • them suffer enough catastrophic damage that they begin to sink.

  • For the first time in half a century, the American Navy has lost a ship in combat against

  • a foreign adversary.

  • The battlegroup is severely damaged by the attack, at the loss of just three Chinese

  • submarines.

  • The entire carrier strike group has just been rendered combat ineffective, and most of the

  • men, ships, and weapons that make up one of the greatest concentrations of firepower on

  • earth have all been put out of the war indefinitely.

  • The above scenario is clearly fiction, and yet it is very soon to be a reality for the

  • United States Navy.

  • A new arms race is overcoming the world, and for the first time in modern history, the

  • United States is coming at dead last.

  • Hypersonic missiles are missiles that travel above Mach 5, and can reach speeds as high

  • as Mach 15 or even 20, and they are currently a threat that no military in the world can

  • defend from.

  • Thought of as indefensible, hypersonic missiles have the potential to render the United State's

  • greatest asset- its carrier battle groups, completely obsolete, and the worst part is:

  • the US has none of its own right now to retaliate with.

  • Weapons have been going hypersonic for a long time.

  • Ballistic missiles after all typically clear the atmosphere and on the way back down to

  • their target will go hypersonic.

  • The Chinese and Russians both have been threatening American carrier groups for decades with ballistic

  • missiles, so what's the big deal with new hypersonic weapons and how are they becoming

  • a game changer?

  • Well, traditional ballistic missiles do indeed move very fast, but they also are not very

  • maneuverable in their hypersonic phase.

  • Simple materials science has prevented ballistic missiles from being able to maneuver very

  • well as they descend on their target at thousands of miles an hour, after all attempting to

  • do so on such a big structure would immediately destroy it from the stress placed on the body

  • of the missile by the extreme speed and wind resistance.

  • The wind resistance also heats the skin of the missile up to incredible temperatures,

  • necessitating the use of a heat shield on any missile that wants to survive to hit its

  • target.

  • It's not very efficient to coat the entire body of a missile with a heat shield, so if

  • a ballistic missile were to turn in its flight and expose part of its unprotected body to

  • the superheated air, it would immediately disintegrate.

  • Because they can't maneuver very much, ballistic missiles are extremely predictable and easy

  • to defend against, but new hypersonic weapons are overcoming the problem of maneuverability

  • with new materials and engines.

  • This means that modern weapons can now perform evasive maneuvers to throw off incoming interceptors,

  • or to simply swing around a target and attack from an unexpected angle.

  • Speed is another way of protecting hypersonic missiles from interceptors, as the missiles

  • simply move too fast to be effectively engaged by traditional anti-missile systems.

  • An AEGIS system for example can track a conventional missile attack at hundreds of miles away,

  • and give at minimum a thirty second window for engagement.

  • In those thirty seconds, AEGIS can launch as many as three waves of interceptors against

  • conventional missiles- against hypersonic missiles that move at Mach 5 or above, AEGIS

  • may only get as many as two attempts to engage.

  • If the missiles hit the mind boggling speed of Mach 14 like in our opening scenario, AEGIS

  • will get one single chance to intercept.

  • At those speeds, even CIWS, or Close-in Weapon Systems, won't get more than a second or two

  • to engage.

  • Speed however creates another problem for defensive systems.

  • The incredible speeds can build up a layer of superheated plasma around the missile,

  • which can scatter incoming radar waves.

  • As every anti-missile system in operation uses very high frequency radar for terminal

  • guidance on interceptors, this could confuse that radar or render it completely ineffective.

  • While the United States was focusing its efforts on Iraq and Afghanistan, Russia and China

  • both began development on hypersonic weapons programs.

  • Both nations have a vested interest in the technology, as both nations have one big problem-

  • the United States Navy.

  • Unless the US Navy, and specifically its carriers, can be neutralized, then Russia and China

  • are largely helpless to launch any kind of military offensive anywhere in the world.

  • As American naval officer Alfred Thayer Mahan famously said, “He who rules the waves rules

  • the world”.

  • For a long time, Russia and China both relied on traditional ballistic missiles and large,

  • extremely long-range cruise missiles to attempt to threaten American carrier battlegroups.

  • In response, the United States developed the world's most sophisticated ship-borne anti-missile

  • system, AEGIS, and America's confidence in its ability to protect its carriers was so

  • great, that in Cold War war plans against the Soviet Union, American carriers played

  • a key role in coastal operations against the Soviet Union directly.

  • In the modern age, not much has changed, and the US remains confident it can operate carriers

  • in the South China Sea, directly under the threat of Chinese ballistic missile submarines

  • and land-based missile forces.

  • To overcome American missile defenses, work began in the mid 2000s on hypersonic weapons

  • that were simply too fast and too maneuverable for missile defense systems to effectively

  • defeat.

  • With the US's attention focused on the war on terror, both Russia and China made significant

  • strides in this area of research, and in the early 2010s Russian testing of hypersonic

  • weapons shocked the American defense industry.

  • President Barack Obama immediately ordered a start on a hypersonic weapons program, along

  • with a concurrent hypersonic missile defense program that would explore how to protect

  • from these weapons.

  • While the US has made serious strides in catching up in this vital area of future warfighting,

  • it still remains behind.

  • To make matters worse, Russia now has a hypersonic ballistic missile of its own that's allegedly

  • fully operational, the Avangard missile.

  • The missile boosts into space like a regular missile, but then detaches a glide vehicle

  • that's extremely maneuverable and can reach hypersonic speeds on its descent to earth.

  • Currently, no defense system can protect from it.

  • Advances in scramjet technology are also leading to the development of ship, plane, and even

  • submarine launched hypersonic anti-ship missiles to be used in the Russian and Chinese fleets.

  • These weapons don't have the benefit of using the earth's gravity to boost to hypersonic

  • speeds as they plunge from space, so they use a conventional rocket motor to reach Mach

  • 3 and then activate a scramjet to push through the hypersonic barrier.

  • While the deployment of large numbers of these weapons is still a ways away, the Russians

  • already have a plane-mounted hypersonic missile that could theoretically be used against American

  • ships today.

  • All however may not be lost for the American navy.

  • They say necessity is the mother of invention, and the US desperately needs a way to protect

  • its critical surface ships- specially carriers- from hypersonic attack.

  • For a few years now, the US Navy has been developing a way to protect its ships from

  • hypersonic missiles, and it believes it may have found an answer.

  • The Regional Glide Phase Weapon System- or RGPWS- is set to be loaded onto Arleigh-Burke

  • class destroyers, and makes use of the Mk 41 vertical launch tubes already equipped

  • on those vessels.

  • That means that once operational, RGPWS will be very quickly proliferated across the US

  • fleet, ensuring protection against hypersonic weapons for US ships.

  • But what exactly is RGPWS?

  • Well, nobody is really sure, and the Department of Defense is keeping an extremely tight lid

  • on the program.

  • All anyone knows is that it is supposed to be able to protect from hypersonic ballistic

  • missiles over a regional area- or several thousand square miles- but it will likely

  • not be of much use against atmospheric anti-ship missiles.

  • Hypersonic missiles are changing the way that America is thinking about its own warfighting

  • future, with many congressmen and women already calling for a rethink of the US's traditional

  • strategy of investing heavily into massive supercarriers to maintain naval dominance.

  • If a multi-billion dollar carrier can be destroyed by a multi-million dollar weapon, it would

  • spell financial and military disaster for the US military.

  • While no feasible defenses are yet on the table, the US is at least rapidly catching

  • up to China and Russia in the development of hypersonic offensive weapons.

  • Currently, the Navy is expecting to have offensive hypersonic missiles on its ships by 2023,

  • and on its submarines by 2024.

  • The Air Force is looking to have an air-launched variant by 2022, and the Army wants a mobile

  • ground platform by 2023.

  • While how hypersonic weapons will affect the future of war exactly is unclear, what is

  • clear is that this is one arms race the US can't afford to lose.

  • Now check out American vs Chinese Soldiers- how do they compare.

  • Or check out this other video instead!

It's three AM somewhere in the Pacific, and an American Carrier Strike Group is under

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Why the US is Losing the New Arms Race

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    林宜悉 posted on 2020/12/16
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