Pentagon prepares space-based MACH 20 ‘Glide Breaker’ HYPERSONIC missile interceptor

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THE Pentagon has unveiled plans to built a top-secret space missile interceptor with Mach 20 speeds.

As the threat posed by China and Russia’s high-tech nuclear-capable arsenal continues to grow, the Department of Defence’s top research and development arm has begun work to counter the threat of ultra-high speed weapons.

Code named Glide Breaker, the hard-kill interceptor is being designed to intercept and destroy fast-flying weapons from space.

Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) premiered the interceptor’s concept art at its D60 Symposium, which honoured the organisation’s 60th anniversary this month.

“The objective of the Glide Breaker program is to further the capability of the United States to defend against supersonic and the entire class of hypersonic threats,” announced DARPA, adding: “Of particular interest are component technologies that radically reduce risk for development and integration of an operational, hard-kill system.”

“The objective of the Glide Breaker program is to further the capability of the United States to defend against supersonic and the entire class of hypersonic threats”

DARPA spokesperson

Although details remain sketchy, the project is believed to be related to the Missile Defence Agency’s (MDA) own hypersonic defence project, which has a £550million research and development budget stretching to 2023.

It is believed the programme will employ Elon Musk’s Falcon 9 SpaceX rockets, which can re-used multiple times, meaning they are consequently significantly cheaper than using Nasa’s technology.

The US military is in urgent need of strengthening its existing combination of terrestrial and space-based early warning sensors, which remain incapable of reliably tracking and engaging with hypersonic weapons.

The revelation follows reports of Russia’s successes in developing advanced hypersonic weapons.

DARPA

HYPERSONIC: THE Pentagon has unveiled plans to built a top-secret space missile interceptor
(Pic: DARPA)

One is the hypersonic air-launched Kinzhal (Dagger) missile, which is able to travel 10 times faster than the speed of sound, while another is the Avangard (Vanguard) hypersonic glider, which is still being tested.

Using this data, experts believe the Glide Breakers will need to travel at Mach 20 – 20 times the speed of sound – in order to counter any threat from the depths of space.

Michael Griffin, defence undersecretary, gave a rough estimate for deploying space-based interceptors can be calculated on the $20,000 per kilogram is costs to send material into low earth orbit.

Thus a force of 1,000 space-based interceptors each weighing 1,000 kilograms would cost $20 billion.

However news of the technological development has concerned some, with several commentators pointing out the 1967 Outer Space Treaty bars placing weapons of mass destruction in Earth’s orbit, installing them on the Moon or any other celestial body.

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