In Recent drills at the Telemba training range in Buryatia part of Russia, “During the live-fire exercise, over a dozen targets simulated by Armavir target missiles and Favorit smart hypersonic [target] missiles were destroyed. All the targets were hit,” according to the Russian media reports and some media outlets were quick to jump to conclusion that since India is getting S-400 systems from Russia from 2021 onwards, India now has capabilities to target to take down Hypersonic weapons.

While live-fire exercise as confirmed only carried out simulated Hypersonic weapons attack and took down the same effect, there is no confirmation at what stage this weapon was taken down and how it was taken down. While S-400 has a missile called 40N6E which is Effective against low-altitude targets at extremely long-range of 400km, there is no confirmation that it is as effective against legacy Ballistic and cruise missiles will also make it effective against Hypersonic missiles.

According to all the reports by experts in this domain, it is clear that Hypersonic weapons which usually travels at speeds greater than Mach 5 at lower altitudes with maneuverability making them harder to detect and kill than the legacy ballistic and cruise missiles are weakest at during their launch from the ICBM in boost phase when a missile travels at its slowest speed.

Since Hypersonic weapons follow unpredictable trajectories due to their maneuvering ability after the boost phase, it is nearly impossible to take them down during the terminal phase, even when they are detected at long range by space-based assets or by ground-based long-range radars not much can be done when the Hypersonic weapons are traveling at great speeds.

Land-based Hypersonic weapons are only vulnerable at boost phase and if they are attacked with few minutes after their launch from the launch site which will also be harder to predict if they are Road mobile. Air launched Hypersonic weapons from a long-range bomber or fighter jets at 35000 ft will be even more difficult to intercept and one launched from Ships and Submarines at high sea are carry the same level of uncertainties.

According to studies done by DARPA, Space-based Interceptors and new bread of Kinetic Kill Vehicle are only solutions to effectively take down Hypersonic weapons which have demonstrated the speed of Mach 27 of late and this technology are currently not available with any countries including one cozy club of Hypersonic weapons developers like Russia and China.


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