Friday, August 12, 2022

Akin To China’s DF-26, Russia Is Developing Hypersonic Ballistic Missile That Can Cripple US Super Carriers

Moscow is reportedly developing a new ballistic missile for the Russian Navy that can travel at hypersonic speeds and sink an aircraft carrier. This new missile is similar to the Chinese-made DF-21D and DF-26 missiles.

Russia is developing a new “carrier killer” – ballistic missile ‘Zmeevik’ with hypersonic combat equipment for the Navy, reported Russia’s state-owned TASS news agency, citing two sources close to the Russian military department the military-industrial complex.

“The Zmeevik ballistic missile with hypersonic combat equipment has been developing for quite a long time. It will be designed to destroy large surface targets, primarily aircraft carriers,” a source was cited by TASS.

According to another source cited by TASS, the new missile could enter service with coastal missile units of the Russian Navy.

Interestingly, Russia is also developing a new coastal missile system to launch the Tsircon (or Zircon) hypersonic cruise missile that can hit both land-based and sea-based targets, according to a EurAsian Times report in May.

Currently, only the aviation and sea-based variants of the Tsirkon are known to exist that have a range of over 1000 kilometers and can travel at a speed of Mach 9 (11,113 kilometers per hour).

Described as “invincible” by President Putin, Tsirkon is considered a hybrid cruise missile and ballistic missile, unlike the pure hypersonic missiles that are powered by air-breathing scramjet engines.

The missile can reportedly evade the most sophisticated American air defense systems. Because of its tremendously high speed, the air pressure in front of the missile is said to create a plasma cloud that traps radio waves, making it near invisible to radar systems.

It is believed that the Tsircon missile can sink even the most advanced American aircraft carriers, and according to experts, it could easily defeat the US’ Aegis Combat System.

Therefore, the Russian Navy is developing coastal defense capabilities for a contingency where an American aircraft carrier could come close to the Russian coast.

Vladimir_Putin_and_Xi_Jinping
File Image: Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping

China, Russia Concerned About US Aircraft Carriers

Also, the Zmeevik is similar to the Chinese DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missile. The DF-26 intermediate-range ballistic missile has a range of up to 4,000 kilometers, according to TASS.

Beijing and Moscow share their concerns about the US’ technological advantage at sea, as the US Navy plans to maintain a fleet of 12 nuclear-powered aircraft carriers. In contrast, China currently has three aircraft carriers, the fourth in the pipeline, and Russia only has one.

As recently reported by EurAsian Times, the land-based Dong Feng-21D (DF-21D), also known as the ‘carrier killer’ missile with a range of 1,500 kilometers, is at the center of China’s strategy to counter any US military action off its eastern coast.

A Chinese rocket force brigade practiced the fast transfer of DF-26 ballistic missiles to another location to launch a second wave of missiles. (Xinhua)

Furthermore, EurAsian Time also reported about a target range in Xinjiang’s remote Taklamakan desert with targets built in the shape of a Ford-class US aircraft carrier and at least two Arleigh Burke-class destroyers by the Chinese military to practice precision anti-ship attacks with DF-21D missiles.

In March, a report by US Congressional Research Service about China’s naval capabilities highlighted the concerns of the top US military officials. It said that China’s stockpile of anti-ship ballistic missiles (ASBMs) could virtually block the US Navy from accessing an area of about a thousand miles off China’s coast.

Also, in January 2011, then chief of US Naval Intelligence, Vice Admiral Jack Dorsett, admitted to a reporter that the US Navy had underestimated China’s development and deployment of the DF-21D missiles.

According to the US Naval Institute (USNI), the enormous kinetic energy of a descending DF-21D, coupled with the explosive warhead, could potentially destroy a carrier in a single strike.

The DF-26 missile is considered a more significant threat to the US as it has a range of 4,000 kilometers. The missile can threaten the US forces over a larger area in the Indo-Pacific region, including its strategic Anderson Air Base in Guam. It is why the missile is often referred to as the ‘Guam Killer’ by many defense analysts.

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