Lt. Col. Jyri Raitasalo, military professor of war studies at the Finnish National Defence University, posted an article in the net-media ”The National Interest” in the beginning of January 2019, where he asserted that hypersonic missiles are not a game changer or so decisive as most professionals think they are. I think that Raitasalo has made a correct conclusion. The overall idea is his, but I am going to explain why he is right here.
I suppose that hypersonic missiles cannot manouver as much in its trajectory as regular missiles can in the same distance travelled. That means that the enemy’s hypersonic missile will actually be easier to shoot down if the opponent is allowed a sufficient time window to prepare his reaction in time. Surely hypersonic missiles cannot fly faster than the speed of light, so detection of the missiles won’t be the biggest problem.
This means that the biggest advantages the Russians will get with hypersonic missiles, if we set aside the fact that they can use nuclear warheads when and if they want a nuclear war, are that in a duel between, let’s for simplicity’s sake say two opposing ships, the Russians have a chance to strike its target maybe even before their opponent’s missiles can lock on its target by itself. The other thing is that the Russians can fire more salvos in a quicker pace than the Americans can, if the Russians sees that the first salvos missed its target. And that gives a higher probability for the Russians to win a duel.
This said, there are several other factors that affects the outcome of a duel. Radar capability and efficiency for instance. Or stealth ability. Not to mention ECM-ability. Chaff/Windows. There are other counter measures. But also the quality of the crew and quality of equipment and missiles. Wind and weather and time of year (season). Whether or not the system is semi-automatic and always manned with personel and has an authorized senior officer always on deck. Training and qualifications of the crew and the officers. The manner and time in wich a decision is taken and the orders are given to the personel, i.e. fighting techniques and rules of order. Rules of engagement. And the last things I come to think of are luck and/or misfortune.
I haven’t even accounted for systems integration between different platforms and arenas and/or UAVs.
Am I being realistic if I assert that the biggest threat from the Hypersonic missiles will not be nuclear?
If not, how do you think a war scenario will play out when the Russians sends away a missile with a nuclear warhead against an American war ship or group of ships?
If you think the only option available for the US is to retaliate with a nuclear strike of their own, do you not think that the Russians could foresee that?
If yes or no, do you think the Russians are suicidal?
If yes, do you consider yourself to be suicidal?
Roger M. Klang, defense political Spokesman for the Christian Values Party (Kristna Värdepartiet) in Sweden