Russia has reportedly developed and tested a hypersonic missile that can travel at a staggering 4,600mph.
What makes the missile particularly deadly is that at those speeds it could easily outrun any anti-missile systems that will be aboard the Royal Navy’s two new carriers the HMS Queen Elizabeth and the HMS Prince of Wales.
Sputnik, a Russian government controlled news agency, claims that the Russian military has already been testing the Zircon missile system and it could even be entering active duty by 2020.
According to Sputnik there are reports that the missile system could be installed aboard Russia’s own nuclear-powered missile strike ship the Pyotr Veliky.
If true this could potentially give the Russians a significant advantage over other nations such as the US, who have also been trying to develop hypersonic craft.
Back in 2013 the US military successfully tested their X-51 Waverider, an experimental hypersonic aircraft that could potentially become a missile platform.
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Since then however things have gone a little quiet and while tests have reportedly continued on the program there’s no immediate indication that the US is significantly closer to having a hypersonic missile ready for deployment.
Hypersonic missile pose a significant threat for several reasons. Firstly they have the ability to travel faster than any other missile on the planet, making them extremely difficult to stop.
In fact the Royal Navy’s anti-missile system Sea Ceptor only has a top speed of supersonic, making it potentially slower than the Zircon missile.
Speaking to the Sunday People, one senior naval source even went so far as to call hypersonic missiles “unstoppable”.
The Ministry of Defence refused to comment on the issue in particular but told the newspaper that it “keeps threats under constant review”.
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