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Russia designs anti-hypersonic missile weapons

Russia is designing a long-range air missile to intercept maneuvering speed targets. Experts said the design is vital, as the Pentagon announced plans to test four new hypersonic munitions in 2020. The new missile will also fight modern aircraft and cruise missiles. Today, only Russia has hypersonic arms, but many countries are engaged in their creation, the Izvestia daily writes.

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Russian Zircon missile concept (Picture source: via USNI )

The Russian Defense Ministry decided to design for MiG-31 fighter jets and the Prospective Airborne Complex of Long-range Interception (PAK DP) a multirole long-range interception system (MFRK DP) capable of downing hypersonic missiles. Sources aware of the situation said theoretical research of the long-range air-to-air missile with a multiple independent reentry vehicle has been completed. The characteristics and composition of the system are being specified. K-77M medium-range air missile is one of the candidates.

President Vladimir Putin said in May 2019 that leading world countries will sooner or later obtain hypersonic weapons. He called to develop defense against them before the weapons appear abroad. The designed missile offers such defense. The heavy high-speed air munition will deliver the reentry vehicle with several air-to-air missiles to several hundreds of kilometers. The missiles will separate from the carrier, independently search and attack targets.

Such a weapon destroys targets at a major distance, expert Dmitry Kornev said. It is necessary to down the carrier before it releases its missiles. "An ordinary antiaircraft missile has one warhead. The possibility of missing a maneuvering hypersonic target is high. If one weapon carries several homing warheads, the chance to down a high-speed target increases," he said. In case of fire with the long-range interception weapon at hypersonic targets, all warheads will enter the trajectory of the flying munition. The use of a long-range missile expands the destruction zone.

The weapon will be most effective when an aircraft operates in a single information space. Air targets, cruise and hypersonic missiles can be detected by ground radars, AEW aircraft and an early warning system. It will remain for a fighter jet to fire a missile to the necessary area. "The Americans are gradually moving towards the development of hypersonic weapons," expert Vadim Kozyulin said. "A major arms race is in store in the sphere. We have to design defense against such arms already now. The United States is also designing them," he said.

U.S. Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper said appropriations for the design of hypersonic ground, air and naval weapons will double in 2020. US media said nine projects are designed for the military. Four prototypes are to be tested in 2020.

China is also engaged in the research. In the autumn of 2019, it presented an intermediate-range ballistic DF-17 missile with a maneuvering warhead. Foreign media dub the situation as hypersonic arms race. The US command believes the new weapons will change future wars like the emergence of nuclear weapons did, the Izvestia said.

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