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  • War.

  • War never changes, but the weapons to wage it with are constantly evolving- and they've

  • never evolved faster than in modern times.

  • Even as new technology has unlocked all manner of improvements to our life, it's also created

  • the most lethal military weapons ever invented.

  • But which top the list of most lethal modern military weapons?

  • What weapon rules the modern battlefield?

  • Let's find out.

  • America's F-22 Raptor Pound for pound, the American F-22 Raptor

  • is the undisputed ruler of the skies.

  • While originally detracted for its inability to dogfight, the fact is that the days of

  • close-range dogfighting are well and truly over.

  • Modern anti-air weapon systems, long-range acquisition and tracking, and the sheer speed

  • of modern fighter jets make a traditional dogfight a thing of fiction.

  • That is why the US military went all-in on optimizing the F-22 to be a stealthy long-range

  • assassin.

  • While its stealth characteristics vary- just as with any stealth aircraft- on the angle

  • the plane presents to incoming radar waves, at its most optimal angles the F-22 gives

  • off the same radar signature as that of a flying marble.

  • While no plane is truly invisible, the F-22 is the most survivable stealth fighter in

  • the skies today.

  • But stealthiness is only half of the equation, because what makes the F-22 truly lethal is

  • its incredible ability to detect targets at extremely long range and network with other

  • battlefield assets, including drones, airborne radar, other planes, and even satellites.

  • With such low observability and beyond visual range engagement capabilities, the F-22 is

  • a first-look, first-shoot aircraft, with missiles incoming to enemy fighters before they've

  • even detected the F-22.

  • Unfortunately, the F-22 was only built in small numbers, with the US Air Force operating

  • 187 out of a planned fleet of hundreds.

  • With the advent of the global war on terrorism, funding priorities quickly shifted elsewhere,

  • and the costly aircraft- coming in at $150 million a unit- was nixed to the current operational

  • fleet.

  • It was decided at the time that the F-22 was simply so advanced that no other nation presented

  • a realistic threat against it, and thus large numbers of it were unnecessary.

  • Even the Chinese Chengdu J-20 and the Russian SU-57 were deemed to be both not threatening

  • enough and not to be produced in large enough numbers to pose a serious threat against American

  • air forces.

  • With China's growing ambitions in the South China Sea and rapidly modernizing military

  • though, the US Air Force has already begun planning for a replacement to the F-22 and

  • the F-35, through its Next Generation Air Dominance program.

  • Despite its low numbers, for now the F-22 though will remain the deadliest fighter above

  • any battlefield it finds itself in.

  • The F-22 may rule the skies, but our next lethal modern weapon is the undisputed king

  • of the underwater domain.

  • American Seawolf-class Submarine

  • Built at the end of the Cold War, the American Seawolf class of submarines remains the most

  • advanced submarines ever built, outclassing even the modern US Virginia class submarines

  • which are replacing America's Los Angeles class.

  • Originally developed to counter advanced Soviet ballistic missile and attack submarines, the

  • Seawolf was jam-packed with the most advanced technology the US has ever fielded under the

  • sea.

  • Out of 29 originally planned to enter service, only three were ever completed due to the

  • end of the Cold War.

  • Much like America's F-22 Raptor, the Seawolf found itself a victim of having no realistic

  • threat to go up against, and thus American budget priorities were shifted elsewhere.

  • At a cost of $5 billion per submarine, they are a whopping 2 billion dollars more expensive

  • than modern Virginia class submarines which are soon to become the workhorse of the American

  • attack sub fleet.

  • All that money was well spent on creating the stealthiest submarine to ever cruise the

  • ocean, with an operational Seawolf described as being quieter than a Los Angeles class

  • submarine sitting idle at port.

  • American sonar operators often joke that if you want to track a Seawolf, follow the silent

  • void cruising around the ocean.

  • All three original Seawolfs remain in service with the US Navy, and their stealth is so

  • formidable that they have been modified to allow for shallow water operations such as

  • delivering Navy SEALs and other special forces directly onto enemy beaches.

  • Famously, a Seawolf was tasked with the nearly impossible mission of tapping a Russian communications

  • cable just offshore from a major Russian base, and the tap remained undetected and active

  • for years.

  • American Seawolfs are rapidly approaching thirty years in service, and yet there is

  • no sign for their imminent retirement, another clue as to just how deadly these extremely

  • classified submarines really are.

  • Recognizing the growing submarine threat posed by Russia and China, the US Navy last year

  • announced a plan to purchase a new generation ofSeawolf-likesubs specialized in

  • hunting and destroying enemy submarines.

  • Despite only three of its kind in service, the American Seawolf is the undisputed king

  • of the underwater realm.

  • The US may have the advantage in the air and below the waves, but our next weapon threatens

  • any American aircraft finding itself in the wrong sky.

  • Russia's S-500 Air Defense System

  • The United States has historically held the advantage in combat aircraft, forcing Russia

  • to invest heavily- much more so than NATO- in air defense systems.

  • This has given Russia an unrivaled expertise in creating air defense weapons, and its newest

  • surface-to-air/anti-ballistic missile system puts the American equivalent, the Patriot

  • missile battery, to shame.

  • The S-500 was originally planned in the late 1960s, with a requirement to engage enemy

  • aircraft up to 62 miles (100 km) away.

  • The Soviet military however rejected the weapon, requiring that a new air defense system be

  • able to engage not just enemy aircraft, but the growing threat posed by ballistic missiles.

  • Thus the Soviets decided to invest in the S-300 family of air defense systems instead,

  • shelving the S-500 for a few decades.

  • Today technology has caught up with Soviet ambitions, delivering the most advanced air

  • defense system in the world.

  • Unlike many Russian military projects of late, such as the SU-57, the S-500 seems to be more

  • than just propaganda, and American intelligence sources familiar with details of the system

  • confirmed a successful intercept of an airborne target at a range of nearly 300 miles (482

  • km).

  • The S-500 is designed to be rapidly deployed, with mobile radar and missile vehicles which

  • can be set up in as little as thirty minutes time, making them very hard to pinpoint and

  • eliminate before becoming active.

  • Realistic estimates are that the system can track and engage up to ten targets at once,

  • and can be used against intercontinental ballistic missiles, hypersonic cruise missiles, aircraft,

  • and even low earth orbit satellites.

  • With an operational range of 370 miles (600 km), the S-500 can seriously threaten any

  • enemy aircraft attempting to enter its domain, and is without a doubt the most lethal air

  • defense unit in the world.

  • The American navy is the most powerful in the world, but even it may not be able to

  • defend itself from our next weapon.

  • China's DF-26 Ballistic Missile

  • China faces a serious problem in the Pacific- the US Navy.

  • Despite having a larger fleet, China's navy remains technologically behind the US, and

  • the nation is still incapable of carrying out bluewater navy operations far from home.

  • This is a serious problem for a nation that gets more than sixty percent of its trade

  • via the ocean, all coming through trade routes it cannot hope to defend in the case of war

  • against the US and its allies, or India.

  • In response to the threat posed by the American and Indian navies, China leaned heavily into

  • the development and use of rocket forces, creating the world's only missile service

  • with the People's Liberation Army Rocket Force, a military service focused exclusively on

  • missile warfare.

  • The latest addition to the Chinese rocket forces, the DF-26, may just be the deadliest

  • threat facing American and Indian ships in the South Pacific.

  • Designated the 'carrier killer', or the 'Guam killer' because of its intended use against

  • American aircraft carriers and its forces on Guam, the DF-26 is a dual-use intermediate

  • range ballistic missile capable of carrying both a nuclear and conventional warhead.

  • With the ability to carry a warhead weighing up to 4,000 pounds (1800 kg), the DF-26 packs

  • enough explosive wallop to devastate American installations on Guam, and possibly even sink

  • a US aircraft carrier with just one hit.

  • With a range of up to 2,500 miles (4,000 km), the DF-26 can not just threaten US forces

  • in Guam, South Korea, and Japan, but it can target American naval vessels far out at sea,

  • keeping American naval air power out of the fight altogether.

  • Its ground-attack variants sport a circular error of probability of between 150 to 450

  • meters, making it less than accurate.

  • However as it's designed to be used in overwhelming volleys meant to oversaturate enemy air defenses,

  • the wide targeting margin of error is largely meaningless.

  • While it's unknown what the circular error of probability is for its ship-attack variants,

  • it is estimated that it must be no greater than ten meters if it's to have any chance

  • of threatening American or Indian ships.

  • While formidable in theory, the DF-26 is not believed to have been tested against naval

  • targets yet, and requires a long kill chain of assets that China has not proven it can

  • master or defend in case of war.

  • With American carriers presenting a moving target hundreds or thousands of miles away,

  • China's DF-26 would have to be very precise indeed if it's to succeed at its primary mission

  • of keeping American naval airpower away from its shores.

  • China's missiles are indeed deadly, but none can top the next weapon on our list of

  • most lethal modern military weapons.

  • Russia's Hypersonic Missiles

  • With the United States spending the majority of the 21st century so far focused on terrorism,

  • it has fallen far behind traditional rivals in several key areas, such as anti-submarine

  • warfare and the development of hypersonic weapons.

  • Of the two, none pose as great a threat to American forces as Russia's next generation

  • hypersonic missiles.

  • Already deploying several variants, some of which are nuclear-capable, the weapon that

  • most worries US officials is the Zircon family of hypersonic missiles.

  • These weapons fly at six times the speed of sound, giving air defense systems as little

  • as a minute to respond to the incoming threat.

  • If fired in large volleys at a target such as a carrier strike group, the group's air

  • defense cruisers would have only thirty seconds or less to detect, track, and intercept before

  • the missile's high speed brings it to its target- a daunting feat for even America's

  • AEGIS air defense system.

  • With large enough numbers, an American carrier strike group would simply be unable to respond

  • in time to each incoming missile, ensuring multiple hits on friendly ships.

  • That's if these missiles can even be tracked by radar in the first place, as the incredible

  • high speeds cause the build up of a cloud of plasma around the missile as it tears through

  • the atmosphere, absorbing incoming radar waves.

  • While it could still be detected by passive systems such as infrared or those that pick

  • up the missile's electronic emissions, these are very short range in nature and typically

  • don't provide a high enough fidelity to accurately guide an interceptor missile to its target.

  • While not impossible to defend against, hypersonic missiles provide a significant challenge to

  • American ships, prompting the US to invest heavily into alternative interception weapons

  • such as laser systems which operate at the speed of light.

  • However with their low flight profiles, stealth features, and incredibly high speeds, detecting

  • them in the first place remains a significant challenge that right now, the United States

  • simply has no answer for.

  • With only an estimated six of these missiles being required to sink a large US ship, the

  • American navy finds itself under serious threat for the first time since the Cold War.

  • Despite the threat posed by hypersonic missiles and new Chinese DF-26 ballistic missiles though,

  • the US Navy currently remains confident that it can operate in hostile waters.

  • When pressed on the matter, Navy officials have refused to comment on specific measures,

  • citing highly classified defensive systems in place or soon to be acquired to defend

  • against these next generation weapons.

  • Still, the threat posed by Russian hypersonic missiles is seen by many as the death knell

  • signaling the end of the aircraft carrier as the preeminent weapon of naval warfare,

  • the giant vessels simply being too large, costly, and vulnerable to be worth the investment

  • any longer.

  • Ready for more military news?

  • Check out our American vs Chinese Soldiers comparison right now!

  • Or click this other video instead!

War.

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Most Lethal Modern Military Weapons

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    Summer posted on 2020/08/28
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