After China’s latest “nuclear-capable hypersonic missile” test, a powerful laser weapon capable of blasting missiles and drones is currently being developed by the United States. With an aim of developing a 300kW-class solid-state Distributed Gain High Energy Laser Weapon System, a US Army contract was awarded to Boeing and General Atomics Electromagnetics Systems (GA-DMS) in the previous month.
As per a statement released on 25 October, a 300 kW-class distributed gain laser with an integrated Boeing beam director shall be the delivery of the weapon system.
Greater lethal output
President of GA-EMS said that a lethal output greater than anything fielded to date will be delivered by the high power, compact laser weapon subsystem prototype that GA-EMS.
A leap-ahead capability for air and missile defence which is particularly necessary for supporting the Army’s modernization efforts along with defeating next-generation threats in a multi-domain battlespace shall be represented by this technology.
Expertise in Direct energy to deliver combat-ready protection for the warfighter with unmatched speed, best in class, performance, safety and affordability, of both the companies is combined in the partnership. After it was reported that China has carried out its first-ever hypersonic missile test, the above-cited statement came into the picture. On the other hand, several reports claimed that China carried out a test in the month of August itself.
Hypersonic missile tests
As per reports, before cruising toward its target, the missile flew through low-orbit space although it missed its target, but the missile is said to show “outstanding progress” by China on hypersonic missile technology.
Such hypersonic missiles have the capability to travel at a speed five times that of sound while they can also manoeuvre during flight thereby making them even harder to track. Such missiles are also being worked upon by the United States and Russia.
The reports of the first-ever test of a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile was described as a routine experiment for testing the technology of spacecraft reusability by China.
Another report which was released later this month by the Pentagon revealed that the infrastructure necessary for supporting the Chinese nuclear expansion over the next decade is under construction by the state.
By the year 2027 PRC might have up to 700 deliverable nuclear warheads which might get enabled due to the accelerating pace of the PRC’s nuclear expansion. However, the PRC likely holds an intention of having at least 1,000 warheads under its possession by 2030 exceeding the pace and size the DOD projected in 2020, as said by the Pentagon’s report which was titled as military and security developments involving the People’s Republic of China 2021.
According to another report that was released on Wednesday, the infrastructure necessary for supporting the major expansion of China’s nuclear forces are under construction while the state is also expanding and investing in the number of its land, sea and air-based nuclear delivery platforms.
Along with the improvements of its ground and sea-based nuclear capabilities, the report also mentioned that with the development of a nuclear-capable air-launched ballistic missile, China has possibly established a nascent nuclear triad.
Apart from the above, as per a few reports, earlier this year suggested that Beijing seems to have converted its 1950s J-6 fighter jets into Unmanned Aerial Vehicles as indicated by satellite images which showed a significant number of these fighter jets stalled at China’s east coast bases which are situated near Taiwan. During a ceremony that marked the commencement of the second phase of a training brigade’s cycle, these images were taken and made public by the Eastern Theatre Command of the People’s Liberation Army.
Although several marks on the aircraft like its serial numbers and other markers were blurred by the PLAAF to prevent identification of these crafts while they were also left unpainted, so the particular training brigade photographed has not been identified, however, three hardpoints for external storage on each wing were evidently visible in the images.
Working on inventory
Beijing has increased its inventory of ICBMs in recent years as the US is vulnerable to these Chinese intercontinental ballistic missiles, keeping that aside, to defend a country against a nuclear attack, no state can do so by an adversary. Also, while hypersonic missiles are certainly a technological advancement over plain old ballistic missiles, they do not alter the big picture much.
New missiles deployed by China and Russia are probably a response to the 2002 decision of Washington to withdraw from the anti-ballistic missile treaty and commence investing in ballistic-missile defence. It was evident that the Americans were trying to make their walls impenetrable while these new developments by China and Russia are a response ensuring that they are capable of penetrating those walls.
The risk of accidental nuclear war is raised with every additional warhead and delivery mechanism. The disinclination of Washington, Beijing and Moscow to work out confidence-building measures have exacerbated this in the present circumstances.