The Future Of Warfare:
Much of our communications infrastructure is now located in space, crucial for the military as well as civilian life. Spy satellites are now common, so it’s not surprising that space-based weaponry is becoming more of a focus for various governments.
The US and the UK are working together on new satellite technology, and Russia and China are looking to have space weaponry set up by the end of the next decade. Space-based weapons can be used for increased offensive range, or to counter enemy missile attacks. China has been able to destroy satellites since 2007, leading other countries to believe anti-satellite attacks are a certainty in future conflicts.
France is planning to build satellites armed with lasers, designed to disable enemy satellites. Last year, France accused Russia of space espionage when a Russian satellite came too close to one of France military communications satellites.
France is also planning to build nano-satellites that could ‘patrol’ and protect other assets in space. These may be ready as soon as 2023. However, France’s budget for satellite technology is significantly lower than the US, China, and Russia’s. China invests $10 billion a year into satellite research, Russia invests $4 billion, France has only put aside $4 billion for the entirety of 2019-2025. This has since been doubled, but it will have a long way to go to match the capabilities of more established space powers.
The US, Russia, and China are all working on hypersonic missiles, which could fly faster than Mach-5, or 3,800 miles per hour. Last year, China tested more hypersonic missiles than the US has done in the last ten years. The US plans to invest more than a billion dollars into the project by 2024, in an attempt to catch up with other nation’s alleged already successful hypersonic weapons.
Long-range hypersonic missiles fly at around 100,000 feet, and would be able to strike targets almost anywhere on earth very quickly. They are incredibly difficult to intercept due to their immense speed.
There are currently two methods of hypersonic propulsion: scramjet and boost glide. Boost glide systems are taken to near-space heights by ballistic missiles and then glide to their targets.
Scramjet works via a conventional rocket which accelerates the missile until the scramjet can take over. It then takes in air, compresses it into a combustion chamber, and expels the exhaust as thrust. For a scramjet system to work, it must already by travelling at a supersonic speed before activating.
Due to more air meaning more fuel meaning more speed, some engineers believe Scramjets can reach speeds up to Mach 24. Lockheed Martin is working on a hypersonic vehicle with the catchy name of Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle-2, that will be able to reach Mach 20, or 13,000 mph. This forms part of American’s offensive strategy which would enable them to launch a strike to anywhere in the world in less than an hour.
The Russian Army is planning on deploying large swarms of drones to attack enemy forces or fortifications, overwhelming them with too many to target at once.
The idea for this came from existing strategies used by terrorist groups and paramilitary outfits, who send low-cost commercial drones carrying improvised weapons or rudimentary explosives.
Russia is apparently working on their own drones, which will be loaded with roughly the equivalent explosive force of a hand grenade, but with the precision to hit specific targets.
Larger drones capable of carrying payloads of up to 20 kilograms are also being worked on, which would have the power of an artillery shot.
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