The recent revelations from the defense world reveal that the long standing arms race between firepower and defense has moved to a new dimension.
The balance between protection and the punch with which we can destroy someone else defense is a constant struggle. For instance while trying to protect the Abrams tank we are pushing it more and more to a behemoth looking more like a Christmas tree which will have problems to fight in real life scenarios due to it’s share weight. Although the development has moved way beyond imagination mud is still mud… If something will weight as near as 70 tons it gets problematic. But lets move out of mud and go up where the sky is blue because there we can observe the new arms race.
The title doesn’t state that there will be a winner because it is a constant battle. The forefront of the battle in the sky seems to be the duel between hypersonic weapons and measures to counter it. This is the today’s main battlefield because the protection systems are starting to stay behind which must bring tension in the high commands around the world.
Just imagine a missile traveling with more that five times the speed of sound and the damages it can make. There were even reports of Russian missiles which could do 15 times the speed of sound… but this is a reentry vehicle from a ballistic missile so let’s move that asides. The core of the problem seems to be cruise like missiles which don’t leave the atmosphere and travel around Mach 5 or 6.
Now imagine let’s say the latest British aircraft carrier, new and shiny, still smelling like it was “driven” out of the shop, is blasted with one, two or three projectiles traveling with ultra high speeds? Is this impossible? No it isn’t and that is why it must bring much concern to the high commands. The same goes for the USA. Loosing an aircraft carrier would be a disaster which can’t be replaced with a new one standing in the backyard of the aircraft carrier dealer in San Diego. And what are the Russian and Chinese doing? Correct. These are smart people and they know that they can’t compete with the US in terms of lets say stealth aircraft. Just look at the Su-57 or J-20. They are stealth but it seems that they’re not there yet and USA is moving forward all the time. Why take part in a race which you have to loose. Of course the do not give up on those technologies but instead they push the rocket capabilities which can push USA back.
But each offensive weapon can be neutralized with something and here enters the laser. It’s far from being ready but recent test have shown that it can track and attack small objects. This means that it needs a bit of tinkering, beefing up the power and voila. We ave a countermeasure for the hypersonic.
The question is who will be there first and weather the gained advantage will be used in a way we might not like to see with our own eyes.