Its unclear if lasers can penetrate the cloud of plasma that will surround a hypersonic object. It would be interesting to know if that is permeable by light.
200 year ago it would be absurd to suggest you could fly around the world, or shoot down a bullet with another bullet.
A laser would not need to penetrate a cloud of plasma forming at the nose of a hypersonic object... the laser energy would heat the plasma cloud to much higher temperatures and could actually make it easier for the the laser to defeat the missile...
I really don't think missiles are a viable way to intercept hypersonic weapons.
Well they will have a decade to try with their own high speed missiles and interceptors to work it out... they might have to resort to nuclear warheads to start with but as they work on them I am sure they could develop interceptors that will be effective.
The problem is serious, but hitting a target moving at 7km/s is not trivial yet the S-500 is intended for that job.
Laser tehnology is far from beeing good enough to intercept hypersonic misslies. It is one thing to melt the aluminium skin of a subsonic or even supersonic mislile, it is qute another to melt the materials of a hypersonic missile that are built from heat resistant materials. And that is before you consider the time you have to melt this material is far shorter, and the level of accurasy must be much higher.
Agreed, but the laser weapon in this case will likely be on a cruiser so size wont be an issue and enormous amounts of power should be available.
A hypersonic missile will be made to resist high temperatures because of the speed it operates at, but a hypersonic missile will already likely be operating at near the boundaries that normal modern materials can take, which means a few seconds of laser illumination might be enough to take the materials beyond what they can sustain and cause a localised failure... these things certainly are moving fast but they will generally be moving towards the laser located nearest the target so while moving very fast they will be getting closer and closer to the laser making lasing the target easier and over time improving the chances of a success.
Yes I get that, I am not even sure if lasers can penetrate the plasma cloud around hypersonics. Furthermore the missile can be designed with a layer that erodes and gives of opaque gasses. It does not have to last long, just a few minutes. But short of nuclear warheads I don't see how SAMs can be effective.
The solution might not be to shoot the hypersonic missile down... the solution might be to jam its guidance so it hits open water, or use some sort of EMP weapon to fry its internal electronics so it stops manouvering and continues straight till it runs out of fuel and plunges into the water.
Well aren't the heat resistant materials already at their limit when a hypersonic missile is flying, and it just takes a few more degrees to detroy them?
A laser adding a few hundred degrees might make a part of the missile fail, which lets heat inside and could perhaps set off an explosive warhead or fry the electronics, or fundamentally damage the structure of the weapon causing it to explode and disintegrate in flight...
They can probably build some margin in them or build some strakes so that it will take a long time to burn through, then they can also put a temp sensor that will release liquid nitrogen spray to keep it cool, it only needs to last a very short time. Also remember, missiles can ride that laser beam as a homing signal....
So put the laser on a tug boat... liquid nitrogen freezing the outer shell of the missile in flight could create a freeze thaw situation that shatters the entire aircraft better than any missile strike.
Regardless of the performance of any potential laser-based defense system, the difficulty will always be in tracking an incoming hypersonic weapon with sufficient accuracy to allow a defensive beam to be focused upon the target for long enough to burn through the missiles ablative coatings.
Even a focussed laser beam from 100km is going to be 10 metres across... maybe focussed down to 1 metre... keeping that on target is made easy by its speed.
A hypersonic target is not going to be jinking like a helicopter or small drone... the g forces means direction changes can be made but not radical ones... it is the forward speed that makes a 5 degree angle of flight change effective because after travelling for 5 seconds that means a physical flight path deviation of thousands of metres... which no interceptor can match in 5 seconds... but if the laser is located where the missile is headed then it is a closing target end on that will move sideways and up and down but wont be like a side on view where it is moving 3km a second or more and be much harder to keep in your crosshairs.
Supercarriers are facing the end of their era in peer-to-peer 1st Power conflicts.
They were always highly questionable in such a conflict... they are just too important for an enemy to ignore or put up with... they are like AWACS aircraft in WWIII... you can't ignore them... taking them down will have an enormous effect on HATO, because their entire battle plan is built around using them to coordinate the attack... and their air attack and air defence is built around these platforms, compared with Russia where the AWACS aircraft are used to fill a couple of gaps in ground radar coverage... which these days with all their OTH radar probably don't exist any more, but they are still useful for actually commanding aircraft in combat.