Interesting about Kindzal from Quora
"Every time we hear about a new anti-ship missile, Quora is filled with questions like this. Same happened with supersonic AShM, hypersonic DF-21 and now with Kinzhal. Questions like this assumes CSG to reach enemy shores, sit idle and wait for enemy to launch a barrage of AShMs. That’s not how it works in the real world.
When facing a threat such as Russian/Chinese ASBMs, CSG’s primary role will be to neutralise the threat before entering into their effective* engagement envelope. Mobile launchers (TEL) or Air bases operating Mig-31 fleet will be the prime targets. A CSG would be greeting them with long range Tomahawks and PGMs from VLO platforms. This is the first step to severely degrade enemy’s offensive capabilities.
The US Navy wasn’t really sitting idle for last 2 decades. This is SM-3 Block IA.
It is officially designated to engage Intermediate-range Ballistic missiles (IRBMs).
Yet in 2008 a single SM-3 Block IA was used to intercept a malfunctioning satellite travelling at Mach 23 in a degrading orbit.
US missile hits 'toxic satellite'
That is pretty much equivalent to an ICBM in mid-course. A hypersonic missile refers to Mach 5+ and the type mentioned in the question (Kinzhal) doesn’t exceed Mach 10. So those having doubt about a hypersonic missile being somehow un-stoppable, you’re greatly mistaken.
You don’t see the US Navy boasting about SM-3 like the PLA’s DF-21 and Russia’s Kinzhal, and we don’t have questions along the lines of ‘Does SM-3 makes ICBMs obsolete’. That’s how fundamentally wrong the premise of this question is.
A hypersonic ballistic missile like Kinzhal or DF-21 in many ways are much easier targets than an ICBM and sure difficult in some ways. They supposedly can ‘manoeuvre’ in flight/fly at un-conventional trajectory but there are serious limitations to both. It’s often very wrongly stated that such manoeuvring hypersonic missiles are “immune” to Air Defences – that’s fundamentally pure non-sense. They might difficult to intercept but are no-where close to being impossible/immune.
First of all, Kinzhal is very likely an air-launched version of Iskander Tactical ballistic missile (TBM), which has been in service from 2006.
Kinzhal on Mi-31 (top) and Iskander-M (bottom)
Putin's Air-Launched Hypersonic Weapon Appears To Be A Modified Iskander Ballistic Missile
So it isn’t a hypersonic cruise missile following a near flat trajectory. The air launched version increases the range of the missile and Mig-31 was selected for its high-altitude launch. It is still a ballistic missile and by nature still follows a ballistic trajectory for most path.
The problem with ‘manoeuvring’ in flight is that at such speeds, every deviation from an optimal flight will require dealing with serious aerodynamic forces – which in turn will affect the missile’s range. The more you deviate (follow un-conventional trajectory), the smaller will be your range. This is why such manoeuvring ballistic missiles only perform evasive manoeuvres in the terminal phase.
From Kinzhal’s promo during Putin’s speech on Mach 1.
" This confirms that for about 90% of the flight path, Kinzhal follows nearly* a ballistic trajectory (somewhat depressed/quasi-ballistic) and performs high g manoeuvres only when near the target (Terminal phase). This makes it relatively* easy to engage for most part of its flight time. Also, it has an altitude of 50 km (as with Iskander-M) – this puts a radar horizon of 950 km for radars on Aegis ships.
This is important because SPY-1D(v) and upcoming SPY-6 radars have become much more powerful in last decade due to their regional Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) role. Their detection of hypersonic missiles inside the atmosphere (covered in plasma – severely increasing RCS) in most cases will only be limited by radar horizon. This is without accounting for detection and tracking via other platforms like E-2D and F-35s. In fact, such hypersonic missiles can actually be tracked via existing space based network (IR satellites).
Terminal Evasive Manoeuvres
Russia claims that Kinzhal would make few evasive manoeuvers at terminal phase. Those high-g ‘pull-up’ would definitely make interception more difficult. But at the same time, such high-g manoeuvers will significantly bleed energy and this combined with relatively low (i.e. medium) altitude (denser atmosphere: much more drag) will severely impact the missile’s speed. Consider this, most Russian Mach 3 AShMs with 14 km max. ceiling suffers from 25–40% speed loss in low altitude mode. (P-700 Granit, Kh-31, P-270 Moskit, etc.)
How much speed would a Mach 10 missile with 50 km ceiling loose when it makes evasive manoeuvres at medium altitude? This is important because a hypersonic missile near Mach 5 could possibly be engaged by ESSM. The ESSM Block 1 has already been tested against Mach 4 target drones (AQM-37C, GQM-163 Coyote). Thereby, not only increasing the number of effective interceptors the fleet can use but also making Kinzhal vulnerable to interception by more Air Defences.
While high g terminal manoeuvres may reduce the pK of incoming interceptor (SAM) – it indirectly increases the engagement window. So the CSG would get more time to launch more interceptors + provide course-correction updates to the already outbound interceptor(s).
Here’s the thing – Speed kills manoeuvrability. At hypersonic speeds, the forces involved can easily tear apart the missile. Also, the missile needs to detect and track mobile target amidst all. All of these severely limits manoeuvrability. Besides, NATO have been facing the threat of Mach 3–4.6 Soviet AShMs making terminal evasive manoeuvres since 1960s (Kh-22).
In December 2016, SM-6 Dual I was first tested against a “complex” MRBM target. This was a direct test against ‘manoeuvrable’ ASh ballistic missile (ASBM) such as DF-21 or Kinzhal. SM-6’s explosive warhead was reportedly useful against such targets as a direct hit wasn’t necessary. In August 2017, SM-6 was repeatedly tested against similar complex BM.
Navy, Missile Defense Agency Succeed During SM-6 Ballistic Missile Defense Test - USNI News
With growing threat from China’s ASBM (DF-21) in the Pacific, US Navy started working on innovative approach to break the already complicated kill-chain of ASBMs such as using radar-absorbing carbon fibre clouds to generate a smoke screen obscuring the Carrier
t present Hypersonic missiles are only effective in striking time-bound strategic land targets. The cost and complexity involved makes them ineffective even for a serious SEAD/DEAD role on land based IADS, let alone attacking a CSG. They’ll certainly increase the threat but unless you’re putting a nuclear warhead, there are other means that are more effective at the job. Maybe the biggest impact of such Hypersonic missiles is gaining propaganda points by creating a notion of being “immune” to Air Defences and so far, it appears to be pretty good at it.
Just like bullet-proof vests don’t make guns obsolete; irrespective of how threats evolve, Carriers because of their strategic and tactical role in Naval Aviation won’t be going anywhere. Given the current scenario, they’re not even at any distinct disadvantage.."
Very good point of view that hypersonic weapon is not a game changer.