This is a true mythbusting event of a scale not seen since October of 1957. That was when the Soviet Union shocked the world by launching the first artificial satellite, the Sputnik (Traveller) into an elliptical orbit as high as 538 miles above the Earth. This event was a real moment of truth for the West, who viewed the Soviets incorrectly until the Soviet Union showed its capabilities to be far in advance of the European and American nations. This did not stop with just the one satellite, either, as Russia sent Laika the dog into orbit, and then later the first man in space, Yuri Gagarin, and the first woman, Valentina Tereshkova. Each time, starting with the launch of Sputnik, the Soviets showed their ability to a frustrated and worried West.
This happened again on March 1, 2018, when Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the development of six new high technology weapons systems. Two of them involved the use of hypersonic warheads that are highly maneuverable in the atmosphere, and are unstoppable by any Western anti-missile systems. These warheads can fly at speeds ranging between Mach 10 and 20, and they can sense and evade tracking systems as they relentlessly close on their targets.
When the annoucement was made, for a time the West responded with silence, then with skepticism. This is not possible for us yet, we said, so how could Russia have possibly done something so advanced? It cannot be true. And then the disinformation campaign with events like Megyn Kelly’s interview with President Putin where she tried to get the Russian leader to reveal that the weapons are not a reality because only a computer animation was used to demonstrate it. Putin’s answer was “these systems work and they work very well.”
Well, finally, the Americans seem to be listening to the Russians. Better late than never. The Hill had this to say:
Russia says it successfully tested a so-called hypersonic missile this month, while China tested a similar system last year expected to enter service soon.
“Right now, we’re helpless,” Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in advocating for more investment in hypersonics, along with missile defense.
Hypersonics are generally defined as missiles that can fly more than five times the speed of sound.
Gen. John Hyten, commander of U.S. Strategic Command, last week described a hypersonic as a missile that starts out “like a ballistic missile, but then it depresses the trajectory and then flies more like a cruise missile or an airplane. So it goes up into the low reaches of space, and then turns immediately back down and then levels out and flies at a very high level of speed.”
In November, China reportedly conducted two tests of a ballistic missile with a hypersonic glide vehicle that U.S. assessments expect to reach initial operating capability around 2020. The country had already conducted at least seven tests of experimental systems from 2014 to 2016.
So, it is not only Russia, but China as well. The revelation of American vulnerability was slow to come, but it did:
At the time of Putin’s announcement, the Pentagon said it was “not surprised” by the report and assured the public that it is “fully prepared” to respond to such a threat.
But in Congressional testimony last week, Hyten conceded U.S. missile defense cannot stop hypersonics. He said that the U.S. is instead relying on nuclear deterrence, or the threat of a retaliatory U.S. strike, as its defense against such missiles.
“We don’t have any defense that could deny the employment of such a weapon against us, so our response would be our deterrent force, which would be the triad and the nuclear capabilities that we have to respond to such a threat,” Hyten told the Senate Armed Services Committee.
…Asked if the U.S. is really falling behind Russia and China on hypersonics, Thomas Karako, director of the Missile Defense Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said flatly: “Yes.”
“And the reason is the U.S. hasn’t been doing anything near the same pace both in terms of developing our own capabilities but also failing to develop sensors and shooters necessary to shoot down theirs,” he continued.
Now, the rest of the Hill piece goes on to talk about the praise for President Trump’s defense initiatives. And of course that is something the American president is right to do, even though Russia especially does not pose any threat to the United States (I don’t personally think China does either, but that is only my opinion.)
But the point of this piece was more directed at noting how wrong the American media and political establishment keeps being about Russia. It is this inability to assess situations properly that should be a concern. Given the tendency towards some really amazing intelligence and political blunders the United States has done in the last two decades, it might be a good idea to check how we gather information about nations we consider for whatever reason to be rivals.
The American defense establishment actually got caught flat-footed by those rascally backwards Russians and chief cheap imitators, the Chinese. If the Americans were wrong about this, what else might they have gotten wrong about Russia? (Hint: if you read our news you probably already know some things.)
Maybe it would have been better to quit spinning fiction about these two great nations and live in reality. It appears that this is precisely what Russia and China have done.