UK to Deploy First Domestically-Made Hypersonic Missile by 2030

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) plans to deploy the country’s first domestically-made hypersonic cruise missile by 2030, according to a report by The Telegraph.

The nation aims to catch up with global military superpowers China, Russia, and the US, which all have homegrown hypersonic weapons.

According to the report, the defense ministry wants the missile to reach speeds of more than Mach 5.

It should also be 100 percent built in Britain and completely operational by the end of the decade.

The report noted that plans for the British hypersonic missile development are currently in the preliminary stages, with no decision yet on whether the weapon should be launched from land, sea, or air.

Once finalized and deployed, the hypersonic missile would bolster the country’s strike capabilities, as it will be able to bypass modern air defense systems because of its speed and ability to maneuver mid-air.

Over $1B Investment

Plans to develop an indigenous hypersonic missile capability started last year when the UK MoD announced a 1-billion-pound ($1.3-billion) investment to support the initiative.

About 80 companies have reportedly been invited since the end of 2023 to join a framework agreement for the program.

“This will be a collaborative enterprise approach to accelerate the acquisition of an advanced Hypersonic Strike capability,” the MoD said last year.

Until now, the defense ministry has not disclosed other potential features of the planned hypersonic missile, though reports are suggesting the weapon could be mounted on British fighter jets for effective strike capability.

The UK MoD could also consider launching the missile from British warships.

Hypersonic Weapons Race

Unlike ballistic missiles that have a fixed trajectory, hypersonic missiles can be maneuvered after launch, making them difficult to track and neutralize.

Russia has its Kinzhal hypersonic missile, which can reportedly be launched from an altitude of up to 18 kilometers (11 miles) and travel up to 10 times the speed of sound.

China also has several types of hypersonic missiles, including the Lingyun-1 that uses a scramjet engine to fly at speeds exceeding Mach 5.

Meanwhile, the US has been testing various hypersonic weapons to send a message to Beijing. In March, it conducted the final test of its Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon hypersonic missile.

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