Why British intelligence officials believe Russian power is in decline - We Are The Mighty
Intel

Why British intelligence officials believe Russian power is in decline

Richard Moore hasn’t been the head of the United Kingdom’s Secret Intelligence Service (also known as MI6) for very long, but he has learned one important thing, something he recently divulged to the British people through the London Times Radio.

It’s the first time any MI6 chief has ever given a radio interview and the only one whose identity was ever made public.

While discussing the recent allegations that Russia’s GRU intelligence service destroyed a Czech arms factory, he began talking about recent tensions between Russia and NATO due to the Russian buildup of troops along its border with Ukraine. 

“When you get that pattern of reckless behavior, of course you then look at what is happening around Ukraine and of course it worries us,” Moore told the Times.

Russia has since withdrawn 10,000 of the total 30,000 troops in the area in an effort to de-escalate the situation. Moore says the United States and the United Kingdom warned President Vladimir Putin about the damage a Russian invasion of Ukraine would cause, despite it not being a member of the NATO alliance. 

Why British intelligence officials believe Russian power is in decline
Vladimir Putin at the Victory Day Parade (President of the Russian Federation CC BY 4.0)

He then went on to say that Russian influence and power is in decline. 

“Russia is an objectively declining power economically and demographically,” he said. “It is an extremely challenged place. And clearly the treatment of Alexei Navalny, as we saw with the thousands of protesters on the streets of … a number of cities, shows that there is a deal of disaffection with Mr. Putin.”

Alexei Navalny is the most prominent critic of Putin and the Kremlin. The lawyer and anti-corruption activist has been described as “the man Vladimir Putin fears most.” He has been in the custody of Russian officials since returning to Russia after recovering from a poisoning attempt in Germany by the Russian internal security service. 

Navalny recently ended a hunger strike in prison to protest his treatment by prison officials. He has widespread support inside Russia. 

In response to the Russian buildup, Britain moved two of its ships into the Black Sea area off the coast of both Russia and Ukraine, along with two American ships that made the same move. Both are said to be public displays of support for Kiev by the two NATO allies.

A recent UK defense review order by Prime Minister Boris Johnson listed Russia as Britain’s top security concern. The periodic defense reviews decide how the country will structure its defense posture and how it will allocate money and resources to meet those needs. 

The most recent review, finished in March 2021, promoted an intelligence-driven military that could compete with Russian capabilities in warfare that isn’t necessarily conducted on a physical battlefield – also known as “gray zone warfare.” the review also called for the construction of new ships designed to protect underwater communications cables from Russian interference. 

Why British intelligence officials believe Russian power is in decline
North American Aerospace Defense Command F-22 Raptors, supported by KC-135 Stratotankers and an E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System, successfully completed two intercepts of Russian bomber aircraft formations entering the Alaskan Air Defense Identification Zone in June 2020

This also means that physical battlefield hardware will have to be reduced, including armored infantry fighting vehicles and the vaunted Challenger 2 tank as the British military focuses on data-driven combat. 

While the reduction in force alarmed some American military officials, it made sense to many high-ranking officers in Britain. While MI6 believes Russia is a power in decline, recent events show that a large movement of Russian troops shows that the Russian Bear still has plenty of teeth left for the time being. The British simply believe where, when, and how it chooses to use its remaining power won’t necessarily be on the battlefields of Eastern Europe.

Articles

How the Vietnam War changed the Navy SEALs forever

When the war in Vietnam kicked off, the Navy’s special warfare operations weren’t exactly the same as we know them today. During World War II and the Korean War, the Navy’s special operators were mostly “Frogmen,” members of the Underwater Demolition Teams (UDT).

Within months of the start of the Vietnam War, the Frogmen were carrying rifles and became experts in special operations tactics. The Navy SEALs were about to be reborn and tested in the jungles of Vietnam. 

The Navy SEALs, as we know them today, were established in 1962 in a commitment from the Kennedy White House to develop America’s unconventional warfare capabilities. The SEALs were descended from the World War II-era joint “Scouts and Raiders” and the Navy’s UDTs used extensively throughout that war. 

Although they kept a low profile throughout the Korean War, the UDTs’ Frogmen perfected many of their operations along the North Korean coastline (even moving inland in many cases) and honed their commando abilities against a real-world enemy. 

Why British intelligence officials believe Russian power is in decline
The UDT/ “Frogmen,” predecessors to today’s SEALs, on a mission to clear mines off the coast of North Korea in 1950 (U.S. Navy / National Archives)

But Vietnam was the first war in which the Navy SEALs were fully funded and fully developed, graduating three classes of SEALs from the Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL Course (BUD/S) every year. 

By 1967, the number of BUD/S classes increased to five per year. Before the mid-1960s, SEALs in Vietnam were being used to reconnoiter beaches and landing sites, survey waterways and train South Vietnamese commandos. The CIA began to use SEALs in its Phoenix Program, an effort to undermine the Viet Cong in South Vietnam through counterterrorism and counterintelligence operations.  

In the late 1960s, the Viet Cong, the guerrilla forces of the North Vietnamese communist government, had created an entire shadow government of its own in North Vietnam. The bread and butter mission of the U.S. Navy SEALs was to deploy into the jungle and take down VC leaders. 

Why British intelligence officials believe Russian power is in decline
SEALs in the Mekong Delta, 1967 (U.S. Navy/ National Archives and Records)

Most of these leaders were mid-level, and the SEALs would deploy in nine-man  teams, with two of those being South Vietnamese commandos and one being a Navy SEAL officer. The team would head out into the jungle for a couple of days, complete the destruction of a VC official, and then head back to base. 

These direct action, search-and-destroy missions were a far cry from the SEALs earliest days of carrying demolition explosives to a specific structure and destroying it before leaving the area. On top of killing the enemy, SEALs also had to gather intelligence in Vietnam. This meant they had to actually capture enemy troops and interrogate them. 

Sometimes, this meant learning to speak Vietnamese. The SEALs had truly come into their own as a complete, well-rounded special operations force. For the duration of the war in Vietnam, there were at least eight full platoons of Navy SEALs in the country.

The elite status of the special operators also included the look they’re still known for to this day: relaxed uniform and grooming standards. One of the favorite items among Vietnam-era Navy SEALs, were Levi’s blue jeans – because the government-issued camouflage just didn’t hold up against the dense jungle foliage.  

Why British intelligence officials believe Russian power is in decline
Why Levi’s didn’t capitalize on this with a marketing campaign, we may never know… (U.S. Army)

For all the trouble SEALs had at the start of the war, including high casualty rates, public anger over the Phoenix Program, and internal Navy division over the relaxed grooming and uniform standards, the SEALs proved they were worth the trouble. They were willing to do what other units weren’t willing to do, in the face of overwhelming odds. 

And the Navy SEALs still do it, almost 60 years later. 

Articles

This Is China’s Version Of SEAL Team 6

The Snow Leopard Commando Unit is the China’s most elite counter terrorism unit, similar to America’s SEAL Team 6. Surprisingly, the unit is a federal police unit and not part of China’s Army.


Tasked with protecting the capital of Beijing, their activities are largely secret. Still, the glimpses the world gets are pretty impressive.

The unit is reported to have been established soon after China’s capital was selected for the 2008 Olympics. From 2002 to 2007, they trained in secret under the name “Snow Wolf Commando Unit.”

In 2007, their existence was finally announced just before a ceremony that changed their name to “Snow Leopard Commando Unit.” That same year, SLCU conducted some flashy training with Russian police.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EaTvmTeCOH4
SLCU continued service after the Olympic’s closing ceremonies. The elite unit is rarely reported on, but they made news in 2013 and 2014 for winning top honors at the Warrior Competition, a sort of combat Olympics held in Jordan every year.
The Chinese police very rarely leave China, but the Snow Leopard Unit does, providing security for Chinese dignitaries. They’ve also been dispatched domestically to stamp out unrest in China’s West.

If China has a need to conduct a hostage rescue mission against ISIS or other extremists, it would likely be the Snow Leopard Commando Unit that goes.

Intel

These Incredibly Brave Activists Expose The Terror Of Living Under ISIL Control

The so-called Islamic State has people exposing its daily atrocities from the inside.


While the band of terrorists of The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) attempt to masquerade as a legitimate government in their de facto capital of Raqqa, Syria, a brave group of activists living inside the city have been documenting life under the brutal regime.

Also Read: The King Of Jordan Sent Out This Badass Photo In Response To ISIL

Known as Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently, the group posts photo, video, and social media updates from the city.

From The Daily Beast:

[The group] follows developments in ISIS very closely and appear to be well-sourced inside the city of Raqqa, which is the so-called Islamic State’s capital. The group reported on a failed Jordanian attempt to rescue Muadh al Kasasbeh, a downed pilot from the Jordan Air Force, and his subsequent execution, burned alive, weeks before the hideous video of his murder was made public by ISIS.

Now, in an exclusive video interview from The Wall Street Journal, one of the activists has given his first in-person interview.

“Young guys they just think about going to the bars, meeting girls, and having girlfriends,” the activist says in the video. “But I think about how I will expose ISIS. How I will make the world notice my city.”

It’s a must-watch:

NOW: This Retired Navy Jet Is Finding New Life In The Fight Against ISIL

OR: Meet The Dutch Biker Gang Fighting Against ISIL

Intel

Air Force General: Field this next-gen fighter in time to beat China

The Air Force must field its Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) fighter soon if it wants to compete with China, the general in charge of the service’s fighter fleet said Friday.

Gen. Mark Kelly, head of Air Combat Command, said that he is “confident” that adversaries like China, facing this new technology, “will suffer a very tough day and tough week and tough war.”

“What I don’t know, and what we’re working with our great partners, is if our nation will have the courage and the focus to field this capability before someone like the Chinese fields it and uses it against us,” he said during a virtual chat with reporters at the Air Force Association’s annual Aerospace Warfare Symposium.

Read Next: Army CID Agent Charged with Wife’s 2018 Murder Near Fort Hood

In September, the Air Force revealed it had quietly built and flown a brand-new aircraft prototype that could become a future advanced fighter jet. Officials have said NGAD defies traditional categorization as a single aircraft platform or technology. Instead, it’s made up of a network of advanced fighter aircraft, sensors and weapons in a growing and unpredictable threat environment.Advertisement

The NGAD program could also include fighters and autonomous drones fighting side-by-side, officials have said.

“We just need to make sure we keep our narrative up and articulate the unambiguous benefit we’ve had as a nation to have that leading-edge technology ensuring we have air superiority for the nation and the joint force,” Kelly said.

When asked how close the Air Force was to fielding NGAD, Kelly demurred.

The Air Force is developing NGAD alongside a future fighter road map. In an ongoing “TacAir study,” Air Force officials are trying to determine the right mix of aircraft for the future inventory, and assessing how future fighter concepts would fit into the current mix of fourth- and fifth-generation fighters.

“This study will give us that 10-to-15-year lens … so we’re not trying to deal with it day by day, week by week, year by year,” Kelly said Friday.

The Air Force wants to outline specific mission sets for its aircraft where it can. Deploying high-end fighters like the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter or F-22 Raptor for a routine allied patrol mission, for instance, is costly overkill.

Lockheed Martin, the F-35’s manufacturer, estimates the jet’s cost per flight hour at $36,000, with a goal of reducing it to $25,000 by the end of 2025, company officials said this week. That adds up, Kelly said.

Cost aside, Kelly said the F-35’s role as premiere, multirole combat jet remains unchanged, despite discussions of new fighter development.

“It’s still going to be a centerpiece of much of what our Air Force does for decades to come,” he said.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles “CQ” Brown this week disputed reports that the F-35 was a high-cost Pentagon failure, saying that was “nowhere near the case.”

Brown told reporters on Feb. 17 that the Air Force isn’t ruling out bringing a new fighter jet into its inventory as it looks to replace older, fourth-generation F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft, also made by Lockheed.

Since the inception of the Joint Strike Fighter program, the Air Force has held that older Falcons should be replaced by the fifth-gen F-35 Lightning II. Some critics viewed Brown’s comments last week as foreshadowing the stealth jet’s demise.

The Air Force is the largest customer for the F-35, and hopes to procure 1,763 F-35 A-variants. But according to Aviation Week, future budgets could limit the inventory. The magazine reported in December that the service might cap its total F-35 buy at 1,050 fighters.

Neither Brown nor Kelly addressed how many F-35s the service would ultimately end up with during this week’s conference.

The chief added NGAD and the F-35 are not comparable from a programmatic and funding standpoint.

“As far as NGAD versus F-35, we’re not going to take money from the F-35 to [fund] the NGAD,” Brown said Thursday.

This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @militarydotcom on Twitter.

Intel

Why Russia is massing troops on its border with Ukraine

For close to seven years, the Russian military has been supplying separatist forces in Ukraine with weapons and supplies that has only prolonged the conflict in the country. Now, the Russians are ratcheting up tensions in the area by massing a large army along its border with Ukraine. 

With members of the G-7 calling on the Russians to de-escalate the situation by moving some troops, Russia is standing firm telling the world, they’re only responding to NATO provocations, specifically, the movement of American ships into the Black Sea. Russia has warned the U.S. Navy not to enter those waters.

Ukraine is not currently a member of the NATO alliance, so any Russian attack on the country would not provoke a military response from NATO members. The last country to join the alliance was North Macedonia, and its membership took more than 20 years to achieve. 

Why British intelligence officials believe Russian power is in decline
Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, commander of U.S. Army Europe, discusses training with soldiers from the Ukrainian national guard’s 3029th Regiment May 18, 2015, as part of Fearless Guardian in Yavoriv, Ukraine. Paratroopers from the U.S. Army’s 173rd Airborne Brigade are in Ukraine for the first of several planned rotations to train Ukraine’s newly-formed national guard over a period of six months. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Alexander Skripnichuk, 13th Public Affairs Detachment.)

The United States often sends its ship into the Black Sea, but the potential deployment of two more vessels came when the Russians sent 10 of its ships into the area. The American movement was confirmed by Turkish officials, who are notified of all American movement into the Black Sea within 14 days due to the terms of the Montreaux Convention. The two warships are scheduled to stay there for a month.

Russian officials claimed their ships were moving into the area for a training exercise. The ground forces on its border with Ukraine are the most deployed to the area since Russia’s 2014 invasion and annexation of the Crimea Peninsula.

Ukraine has been fighting the separatist movement in the area ever since. In March 2021, four Ukrainian soldiers were killed in the fighting. Shortly after, the United States began to operate reconnaissance patrols in nearby international airspace.

While the Russians aren’t currently posed for any offensive movements, the size and presence of the force so close to the border is causing international alarm. The new warships are a symbol of support for Ukraine from the Biden Administration. Some say the move by the Russians is a challenge to that support. 

Why British intelligence officials believe Russian power is in decline
A Ukrainian army engineer clears a mock room after his team used explosives to breach the door during training with Canadian and U.S. Army engineers to build their breaching skills, enabling them to teach those skills to Ukrainian army units who will rotate through the combat training center at the International Peacekeeping and Security Center, near Yavoriv, Ukraine, on Feb. 23. (Photo by Sgt. Anthony Jones, 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team)

“The escalation of tensions in the southeast of Ukraine justifies the measures Russia is taking,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Bloomberg. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says the Russian troops are there to protect Russian sovereignty and the United States has no reason to be there. 

“Questions are being asked about what Russia is doing on the border with Ukraine,” Lavrov said. “The answer is very simple. We live there, it’s our country. But what is the United States doing thousands of kilometers from its own territory with its warships and troops in Ukraine?”

A large-scale invasion on the level of Crimea or the 2008 Russian invasion of South Ossetia would be out of character for Russia’s recent military movements, which normally include small scale special operations or unconventional operations, like cyber attacks. But it’s not totally unprecedented, as recent events have shown. 

Russia does not easily deploy its troops out of country. Aside from the two previous invasion, Russia’s only current overseas deployment of ground troops is in Syria, which also relies on private contractors.

The presence of any large formation of ground troops along with naval warships conducting exercises is enough for anyone to take notice, especially so close to NATO’s doorstep. The deployments have increased the appeals by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to ramp up efforts to fast-track Ukraine’s progress to full NATO membership. 

Intel

SEAL Team Six alum on mission to find Bergdahl wants justice for lost dog

Why British intelligence officials believe Russian power is in decline
A Navy military working dog handler trains his partner. Photo: US Navy Photographer’s Mate 1st Class Arlo K. Abrahamson


A former member of SEAL Team Six and military working dog handler wants Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, infamous for allegedly walking away from his post in Afghanistan in 2009, held accountable for his actions.

James Hatch was on a failed mission against Taliban insurgents in 2009 that he maintains was designed to rescue Bergdahl. The DEVGRU SEAL sustained a career-ending injury when his femur was shattered by an enemy round. Remco, a Belgian Malinois assigned to another Navy dog handler on the mission, was killed while assaulting two insurgents to protect Hatch and others.

See the whole story, and Hatch’s reaction to Bergdahl being called for trial, at Stars and Stripes.

Intel

This Army veteran charged the Oregon college shooter to save others

During the shooting on Oregon’s Umpqua Community College campus, a 30-year-old Army veteran named Chris Mintz attempted to charge the gunman while trying to save others. The Daily Beast reported this was his fourth day back at school at UCC and is also his son’s sixth birthday.


He heard the gunshots and charged at the attacker to prevent him from entering the room. Mintz was shot at least five times and had two broken legs, but survived his wounds, undergoing surgery at a local hospital.

Why British intelligence officials believe Russian power is in decline
Facebook Photo

Mintz is a North Carolina native who joined the Army right after graduating from high school. He was stationed at Fort Lewis in Washington and moved to Oregon after leaving the Army and wants to be a personal trainer.

His family members told Greensboro, NC FOX affiliate WGHC both of his legs are broken and he will have to re-learn to walk, but he is now recovering and expected to survive. No vital organs were hit.

The gunman killed ten people before first responders killed him.

Articles

The 13 Funniest Military Memes Of The Week

The staff at WATM sorts through the interwebs to find you the very best military memes out there. Here are our 13 picks for this week:


Snipers: The Waldoes of the military.

Why British intelligence officials believe Russian power is in decline
Don’t worry if you can’t find them. They’ll find you.

Remember to properly secure your firearms and Marines.

Why British intelligence officials believe Russian power is in decline
Don’t worry, guys. It probably won’t be long.

Ingenuity means different things to different people.

Why British intelligence officials believe Russian power is in decline
(If you want to make fun of them, use small words so they get it.)

This is unfair and inaccurate:

Why British intelligence officials believe Russian power is in decline
We all know SEALs start with book deals and then sell the movie rights later.

If you don’t need fixing, basic training will be easy.

Why British intelligence officials believe Russian power is in decline
Trust me, though, we all needed some fixing . . .

Speaking of drill sergeants, they’re arriving with your wake up call.

Why British intelligence officials believe Russian power is in decline
Your wake-up call will be at zero-dark thirty.

I can’t relax if I don’t feel safe.

Why British intelligence officials believe Russian power is in decline
It’s called position improvement, and if we get attacked you’ll stop complaining.

Finally, camouflage for the Navy (a.k.a. “aquaflage”) makes sense.

Why British intelligence officials believe Russian power is in decline

 Reflective belts in the military are like car keys for teenagers.

Why British intelligence officials believe Russian power is in decline
You can’t go anywhere without them, the older crowd uses them to control you, and you lose them every time you want to leave.

 Air Force marksmanship training focuses on real world skills.

Why British intelligence officials believe Russian power is in decline
(But don’t worry, you won’t ever get in a real firefight.)

 Bring every item, even the ones you weren’t issued.

Why British intelligence officials believe Russian power is in decline
You’ll also be unpacking it at every stop for inspections. And when we get in-country. And a few more times because first sergeant wants to see it. By the way, the packing list isn’t final.

 Air Force: Military lite.

Why British intelligence officials believe Russian power is in decline
Notice how the Coast Guard didn’t occur to either of them?

Keep updating social media, ISIS.

Why British intelligence officials believe Russian power is in decline
We can target off of your pictures. Please, send more.

NOW: The Hilarious Result Of Mashing Up Left Shark With Famous Military Quotes

And: 11 Things New Soldiers Complain About During Basic Training

Intel

This immersive video gives a 360 degree look at World War II combat

The guys over at World of Tanks and Google have made a 360-degree video of a World War II combat reenactment. Of course, World of Tanks made sure there were plenty of tanks in the video.


There are also infantrymen moving through trenches to shoot at the enemy and howitzers firing across the battlefield.

Check it out below. Click and drag the screen with your mouse cursor to look in any direction you like. Try watching it a few times and looking in different angles. We found new stuff our first few times watching it.

Intel

‘What The Hell?’ — A Russian Fighter Comes Dangerously Close To A NATO F-16

Russia hasn’t been playing very nice in the air over the past few months.


Over a period of just two days in October, NATO intercepted a “large number” of Russian jets or bombers moving toward European airspace, according to The Washington Post. All together, NATO has conducted more than 100 intercepts of Russian aircraft in 2014 — nearly three times the number from last year.

Also Read: A Top US Navy Officer Thinks That One Of The F-35’s Most Hyped Capabilities is ‘Overrated’

In a new video released out of Norway, we see how provocative one such incident can be, as a Russian fighter gets dangerously close to a very surprised pilot in an F-16.

“The Russian pilot’s behavior was not quite normal,” said Norwegian armed forces spokesman Brynjar Stordal about the 26-second film clip released on Sunday, according to The Daily Mail. In the video, which shows the heads up display of the F-16, a Russian MiG-31 gets so close the Norwegian pilot quickly turns left to get out of the way.

“What the hell?” the pilot says.

David Cenciotti writes at The Aviationist:

As said, the footage does not show the close call: all we can see is the F-16 roll to the left while approaching the Mig-31 (that appears to be flying more or less straight when it enters the HUD field of view). Nevertheless, Norwegian authorities said the video proves how dangerous and aggressive Russian pilots are during such close encounters that have become quite frequent in the Nordic region of Europe.

Now watch the video:

NOW: 11 Killer Photos of Jets In Full Afterburner

OR: Can You Identify These Jets?. Take the quiz

Intel

This Texas Plumber’s Pickup Wound Up Being A Weapon For ISIS

Why British intelligence officials believe Russian power is in decline


Texas City plumber Mark Oberholtzer has been bombarded with calls, some hostile, since a truck he traded in at AutoNation was shown being used as a gun platform in Syria, according to a Galveston Daily News report.

Oberholtzer said he traded in the truck to an AutoNation dealership three years ago. He usually takes the decals off his vehicles when he sells them but he left it on this truck with the expectation that AutoNation would remove it.

“They were supposed to have done it and it looks like they didn’t do it,” Oberholtzer told the Galveston newspaper. “How it ended up in Syria, I’ll never know.”

Read the rest of the story here.

NOW: The Most Famous Photograph Of World War II Was Taken 70 Years Ago

OR: Here Is The Army’s Secret File On The Leader Of ISIS

Articles

The US is doubling down on its futuristic hypersonic weapons program

While some defense contractors might have been concerned that a new presidential administration might lead to budget cuts, order reductions or the end of some programs altogether, they can rest easy on their piles of money now. 

President Biden will not only keep many of President Trump’s weapons development programs in place, he’s seeking an expansion in many areas. One of the biggest is a 20 % increase in the proposed budgets for hypersonic weapons. 

Since announcing its homegrown sets of hypersonic missiles, Russia has spurred a kind of new arms race with hypersonics. In December 2019, the Russian military announced that it fielded its first regiment of Avangard hypersonic missiles. It also conducted several successful tests on its new Zircon sea-based cruise missile in 2020.

The United States has been eager to catch up in the field of hypersonic weapon development, but its efforts have been hampered by Congress. The Department of the Air Force has six (or more) hypersonic weapon programs in development, according to the Intercept. The House of Representatives has already been highly critical of the Air Force’s hypersonic developments.

Why British intelligence officials believe Russian power is in decline
Congress has been skeptical about programs like the AGM-183A Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon, seen here mounted on a B-52H prior to launch for a test in August 2020 (U.S. Air Force photo by Matt Williams)

That criticism led to the House forcing the Air Force to cancel one of the two prototypes it already had in development. 

The chief issue with hypersonic weapons is that all the information popularly known about their capabilities comes from Russia, who has a vested interest in making sure outsiders don’t know the full story about hypersonic possibilities – or limitations.

Researcher Cameron Tracy recently published a research paper in the journal Science & Global Security stating that hypersonic weapons’ capabilities may be more hype than hope. More importantly, the paper says existing Air Force intercontinental ballistic missiles may be faster than the new missiles developed by Russia. 

Tracy took the numbers for his research from a publicly available missile vehicle test conducted more than a decade ago, long before Russia revealed the existence of its hypersonics program.

Why British intelligence officials believe Russian power is in decline
Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapons Concept (DARPA illustration)

Officials at the Pentagon countered Tracy’s report by saying the most recent data on hypersonic weapons is still classified and that changes in the development of these weapons have revealed the need for further research. They also argued that the United States would use these weapons using different tactics than Russia or China and that technology is much different than ballistic missiles systems. 

Russian weapons move so fast – anywhere from Mach 6 and higher – that a plasma cloud forms in front of the missile as it travels. This cloud can absorb radio waves, making it practically invisible to active radar systems.

If the United States’ early warning systems do get wind of a hypersonic weapon, reaction times limit response capabilities. Aegis missile interceptor systems aren’t fast enough to catch up to a theoretical hypersonic attack.

In the case of the Zircon missile, detecting it would give American units just 60 seconds to respond. Most estimate that the United States would need to destroy the weapons at their launch sites or simply place a target in its projected path. 

Russia has 15 corvettes in Navy service that could carry up to 25 Zircon missiles. Just six of these missiles could sink a carrier like the USS Gerald R. Ford. 

Although the Department of Defense has stated its intent to use different tactics with hypersonic weapons, it has not since revealed how its research could help provide a potential defense against them.

Feature image: DoD

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