What are hypersonic missiles? How the weapons work and why the UK is developing them after the Ukraine war

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Hypersonic Missiles


Justin Bronk, senior military researcher at the Royal United Services Institute (Rusi), told i that the main asset of hypersonic missiles is that they can bypass most defence systems. “That means they give you the option to hit very heavily-defended targets if you didn’t have that option already,” he said. Mr Bronk added that the weapons can also be used used to attack “highly mobile high-value targets” such as anti-ship missile launchers or long-range anti-aircraft. While the level of destruction a hypersonic missile can unleash depends on things like distance and the particular warhead used, “they penetrate targets significantly just because of the amount of kinetic energy involved,” according to Mr Bronk. “With a ship, for example, it’ll just go straight through from one side to the other,” he said. “Their increased kinetic energy on impact also makes them extremely effective for deeply-buried targets.”