The US Will Soon Make Putin's Ultimate Weapon Useless
The Tranche 1 Tracking Layer could turn the tables.
There is a terrifying new weapon on modern battlefields, hypersonic missiles. These weapons travel so fast that the air in front of them turns into radio-absorbing plasma, making them virtually invisible to radar. Even if missile defences do identify a hypersonic missile, their roughly Mach 10 velocity means interceptor missiles can’t catch up to them. This means that no one, not even the US, has the technology to defend against hypersonic missiles. This is a huge problem, as both Russia and China are arming themselves with these deadly weapons. However, the US has a solution, a constellation of missile-tracking satellites known as Tranche 1 Tracking Layer. But how does this work? And will it level the playing field?
**Since writing, Ukraine has shot down 6 Russian hypersonic Kinzhal missions using US-supplied Patriot missile defence systems — however, this does not prove that the Patriot is a reliable hypersonic missile defence system as stated in my previous article here**
Let’s start with what is a hypersonic missile. Hypersonic just refers to something that travels over Mach 5, which is around 3,800 mph. Many standard missiles can reach this speed at some point in the flight path, but that doesn’t make them a “hypersonic missile.” Instead, this name is reserved for missiles that can keep well above this speed for most of their trajectory. In fact, most hypersonic missiles can do well over Mach 5, such as the Russian Kinzhal missile, which can do at least Mach 10 or 7,600 mph!
As I stated earlier, this speed is what makes the hypersonic missile so deadly.
Firstly, the shockwave around the front of the missile is so compressed that the air is superheated, which ionises it and creates a cone of hot plasma around the missile. Plasmas absorb radio waves, and as radio waves are what radar uses to “see” objects, this cone of plasma acts as a radar cloak, making the missile incredibly hard to detect. This means that missile defence systems tend to spot hypersonic missiles far later than any other form of missile.
This is a huge problem, as air-defence missiles, such as the Patriot Pac-3 missile, only travel around Mach 4. Thanks to their far lower missile speeds, air defence systems like the Patriot need to identify and target hypersonic missiles incredibly early so that they can manoeuvre their missiles to intercept them. But with their radar-based sensors, they don’t have this early drop, and the hypersonic missiles can simply outrun their missiles.
Sadly, no Western nation has hypersonic missiles. The US did have a development program running, but it was recently cancelled. So, as it stands, the only countries that have developed and deployed hypersonic weapons are Russia and China. This wouldn’t be a problem if it weren’t for the situation in Ukraine and the escalating tension between the US and China over Taiwan. You see, US and NATO forces outgun Russian and China in almost every single way. But as we have no way to defend against their hypersonic missiles, we have a gapping weakness which they could utilise to deadly effect.
But that could soon change with the US Space Development Agency’s Tranche 1 Tracking Layer (T1TRK).
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