China is developing supersonic torpedo-missile that can fly at 33,000ft and underwater - M5 Dergi
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China is developing supersonic torpedo-missile that can fly at 33,000ft and underwater

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The Chinese military is developing a supersonic anti-ship missile that will be able to travel further and faster than any traditional torpedo.

The 16ft 5in missile will be able to go as fast as 2.5 times the speed of sound at about 32,800 feet for 124 miles before diving and skimming across the waves for up to 12.4 miles.

When it arrives within about 6.2 miles of its target, the missile will go into torpedo mode, travelling underwater at up to 100 metres per second using super-cavitation, which makes a giant air bubble around it, will significantly reduces drag.

Lead scientist Li Pengfei and his team said no existing ship defence system was designed to handle such a fast ‘cross-media’ attack. ‘This can greatly improve the missile’s penetration capability,’ they said.

Developers said one of the biggest challenges is the power system, because of the need to produce considerable thrust while breathing in either air or water. But they said the issue could be solved by using boron – a light element that reacts violently when exposed to both, releasing a huge amount of heat, according to South China Morning Post.

China’s space program is run by its military and is closely tied to its agenda of building hypersonic missiles and other technologies that could alter the balance of power with the United States.

Alongside its space program, China’s expansion into hypersonic missile technology and other advanced fields has raised concerns as Beijing becomes increasingly assertive over its claims to seas and islands in the South China and East China Seas and to large chunks of territory along its disputed high-mountain border with India.

Hypersonic missiles travel at more than five times the speed of sound in the upper atmosphere, or about 6,200 km per hour (3,850 mph). This is slower than an intercontinental ballistic missile, but the shape of a hypersonic glide vehicle allows it to manoeuvre toward a target or away from defences.

U.S. ally Japan, one of China’s chief regional rivals, said it would boost its defenses against what it interpreted as a new offensive Chinese weapon.

The United States and Russia are also developing hypersonic missiles, and last month North Korea said it had test-fired a newly-developed hypersonic missile.

The Pentagon’s 2023 budget request already includes $4.7 billion (£4 billion) for research and development of hypersonic weapons. It includes planning that would have a hypersonic missile battery fielded by next year, a sea-based missile by 2025 and an air-based cruise missile by 2027.

Russia has used hypersonic missiles ‘multiple’ times in Ukraine, according to the top U.S. commander in Europe.

Last fall, as U.S. intelligence officials had become increasingly concerned about the massing of Russian forces on the Ukraine border, Russian President Vladimir Putin urged the country’s arms manufacturers to develop even more advanced hypersonic missiles to maintain the country’s edge in military technologies.

The Russian military has said that its Avangard system is capable of flying 27 times faster than the speed of sound and making sharp maneuvers on its way to a target to dodge the enemy’s missile shield.

It has been fitted to the existing Soviet-built intercontinental ballistic missiles instead of older type warheads, and the first unit armed with the Avangard entered duty in December 2019.

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