31 Oct 2020 – There are no signs of a halt to the arms race… on the contrary, production of the most modern 5th and 6thgeneration technological weapons and the most terrifying and lethal weapons continues unabated.
The world is being armed with the most sophisticated nuclear and hypersonic weapons, cruise and ballistic missiles, supersonic fighter jets, unmanned air vehicles (drones), lasers, robots… all experimenting with hardware and software technologies and digital engineering.
Nuclear weapons are the most destructive instruments ever invented, although it is always said that nuclear weapons would be used only in extremism when nations and countries are in the gravest danger.
Technology will make long-range ballistic missiles available to almost any country that has the money and the basic technical capability to acquire and use them.
The principal role of nuclear weapons is to deter potential adversaries from an attack on a country, on its allies, or in vital interest. The United States and Russia maintain very large strategic and nuclear forces, China is modernising its nuclear arsenal, and India, Pakistan, North Korea, Iraq, and Iran have the capacity of mid-level technology states to develop nuclear weapons.
A nuclear military force structure consists of land-launch nuclear missiles, submarines armed with nuclear missiles, strategic aircraft with nuclear bombs and missiles, and intercontinental ballistic missiles allowing for long-range strikes which are launched from a controlled environment.
Medium-range ballistic missiles and ground-launched cruise missiles were assigned to strategic targets but were eventually forbidden by an arms control treaty between the United States and Russia.
Satan | Image from Wall Street International
Tactical nuclear weapons, also known as non-strategic nuclear weapons, are used in air, land, and sea warfare. Their primary use in a non-strategic war-fighting role is to destroy military forces in the battle area. Ground forces have included tactical nuclear artillery shells, surface-to-surface rockets, land mines, and medium and small nuclear engineering demolition charges.
Naval forces carry weapons that include nuclear-armed naval rockets, torpedoes, and naval gunnery shells.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has recently unveiled a range of new generation hypersonic missiles that have no equivalents anywhere in the world.
Avangard is a hypersonic missile, boost-glided vehicle. It appears to be reasonably successful, will probably be deployed next year, and is expected to carry a warhead of 150 kt. Once launched, the missile is designed to sail over the atmosphere and is supposed to be able to reach up to Mach 27, that is 20 times the speed of sound.
Burevestnik is a second-strike strategic-range weapon of a type that has not been deployed by any other nation.
Burevestnik-3 | Image from Wall Street International
Kinshal is an air-launched hypersonic ballistic missile which is already in the military arsenal on 10 MIG-31 interception jets. The Kinshal missile can hit targets at a distance of up to 2,000 km. It can strike missile-defense installations and carrier groups.
Sarmat is a liquid-fuelled, multiple-warhead heavy intercontinental cruise missile, and is expected to have a range of 16,000 km, which would allow a southern approach to U.S. targets, thereby avoiding current missile-defense installations in Alaska and California.
Tsirkon is a sea-launched hypersonic cruise missile, and such a missile deployed in Kaliningrad could potentially reach missile-defense installations in Poland.
The Buk-M2E missile system is a self-propelled medium-range surface-to air-launched missile and uses 9M317 anti-aircraft guided missiles.
Poseidon is a nuclear-type torpedo, designed to be released from a submarine in safe waters, then travel at depths of 1000 m and speeds of 70 mph for distances of 5,000 km. It is difficult to detect and intercept.
The Russian Navy is expected to deploy more than 30 Poseidon unmanned underwater vehicles, once, the weapon system is declared operational.
Five new nuclear delivery systems (vehicles) utilise new technologies to evade U.S. missile defenses and have ongoing development and test programmes.
The United States has one of the most advanced missile arsenals in the world, deploying ballistic and cruise missiles across multiple platforms, armed with warheads for a variety of targets and applications.
B-53 nuclear bomb 2010 | Image from Wall Street International
The B-53 nuclear bomb is the most powerful weapon in the U.S. nuclear arsenal. As of 2019, the U.S. has an inventory of 6,185 nuclear warheads, of which 2,385 are decommissioned and awaiting dismantlement, 3,800 are part of the U.S. stockpile, and 1,365 are deployed.
The UGM-133A Trident II is a submarine-launched ballistic missile with a range of 11,300 km and is currently deployed by the U.S. Navy’s Ohio and British Vanguard Class submarines.
The B-41 is a thermonuclear weapon with a maximum yield of 25 megatons, first deployed in September 1960. It is the most powerful and most deadly weapon ever created by the U.S.
Cruise missiles travel within the Earth’s atmosphere, one the fastest of which is probably Shaurya (8,000 km/hour) in the cruise missile category.
However, the Russian Satan missile with a range of 16,000 km is faster.
Sineva (11,547 km) is a Russian 3rd generation submarine-launched ICBM.
The Russian Topol-M (11,000 km) was developed by the Moscow Institute of Thermal Technology. It is launched from silos or mobile launchers and can carry a 550 kt warhead.
The U.S. programme comprises a common glide vehicle called the Advanced Hypersonic Weapon (AHW) designed to provide a range of 6,000 km, along with Navy, Army, and Air Force delivery vehicles.
The U.S. Navy is developing an intermediate-range conventional prompt-strike weapon as a submarine-launched system.
US F 35 fighter | Image from Wall Street International
And the U.S. Army is developing a medium-range (2.250 km) ground-based hypersonic two-phase booster system to be launched from B-52s, and an air-launched rapid response weapon with a range of 925 km.
The U.S. is not currently developing an ICBM-boosted conventional hypersonic missile weapon. The Pentagon abandoned this approach out of concern that such systems could be confused with nuclear-armed missiles and could unintentionally cause a nuclear exchange.
In addition to developing conventional hypersonic weapons, the United States is also investing in new missile-defense technologies that can defeat adversarial hypersonic weapons.
The Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) continues research activities on more advanced glide vehicle and cruise missile programmes along with delivery systems.
Historically, Russia has deployed a higher proportion of its strategic nuclear forces on land rather than at the sea, in contrast to the United States, which relies more heavily on sea-based weapons.
China is also working on modern hypersonic weapon systems. The most significant weapon development in China has been the DF-2F-HGV hypersonic glide vehicle and the DF-17 medium-range ballistic missile, which was reported to have flown between Mach 5 and Mach 10 over 1,400 km at an altitude of about 60 km. and to have struck “within metres” of the intended target.
There are also the DF-21 and DF-41, which is expected to carry multiple warheads and be capable of a 12,000 km range and reaching the U.S. mainland.
Militar drone | Image from Wall Street International
In the age of increasingly capable conventional munitions, cyber warfare, and autonomous robots, why are nuclear weapons still deployed in the territory of Europe, at a time when discussions on lethal weapons, drone swarms and the weaponisation of outer space make nuclear weapons seem as retro as a Sony Walkman?
The risks and rationale for pursuing such systems, as well as the implications of new technologies, should be a priority agenda item for the United States and Russia in their discussions on strategic stability and nuclear risk reduction.
But the nuclear-armed nations of the United States. Russia and China are once again investing heavily to create more sophisticated and diverse nuclear arsenals.
Military drones are becoming deadly weapons across the globe and will conquer the world. They can perform various tasks, such as sensor-functions targeting weapons transport or electronic warfare activities.
Drones can begin missions while in the air much closer to an objective, without having to travel long distances from a ground location or forward operating base. Another advantage of technological advances in drone autonomy is that one human may have the ability to control multiple drones and perform a command and control function.
Drones could carry a small warhead of the order of half a pound of high energy explosive, which would be used to target people and /or lightweight vehicles.
Meanwhile, the Perching Micro Air Weapon can do something other drones cannot: recharge itself by solar cells or other means. The ability to harvest power/energy from external sources is critical to persistent surveillance, allowing it to wait days for the right moment to strike a target.
Small solar-powered drones are being developed for non-military and commercial applications. Perching drones might make good guards for human oversight and control.
They might move around to form ad-hoc unmanned checkpoints, reading the license plates of passing vehicles from roadside perches, or they might, as the air force seems to imply, find and attack specific individuals (Iranian general Qasem Soleimani was assassinated by a U.S. drone strike on 3 January 2020) in urban environments, even inside buildings.
Boing F15 strike eagle | Image from Wall Street International
New air force drones will perch, stare, and destroy. Killer drones will become more like birds, the air force wants miniature drones that can perch and wait days or weeks for a target before attacking with an explosive warhead, and it is better to watch from a tree 100 feet away than a predator at 10,000 feet. Bird-sized drones are able to land, for example, on structures, power lines, trees and buildings.
China is unveiling a new super Sharp Sword stealth-combat drone which is highly sophisticated and capable of hitting top military powers like the U.S. and Australia and will go undetected on radar. The drone will be capable of dropping two tonnes of bombs and will be able to stay in its target area for long periods.
Not to mention weapons of the future… by 2050, it is expected that the world will have full-body military Exoskeletons, modern high-performance humanoid robot-soldiers carrying the sorts of heavy machine guns that are today mounted on special vehicles.
The future of air arms is sophisticated and scary. The 6th generation programme of the U.S. air force is looking at hypersonic attack planes, unmanned aircraft, drone fighter jets, artificial intelligence, lasers, electronic warfare, and sensors woven into the fuselage of an aircraft.
In the meantime, these are the latest 5th generation fighter jets:
- The U.S. Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightening II is the most lethal and versatile aircraft of the modern era. The only international 5th generation single-seat, multi-role fighter, armed with an array of weapon systems.
- The Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor is a single-seat, twin-engine, extremely advanced tactical fighter. The stealth integrated avionics and superior performance make the F-22 a super-maneuverable and multi-mission fighter. It employs sophisticated air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles. The emerging technologies integrated aboard the F-22 make it a superior platform for a wide array of missions including surveillance, reconnaissance, attack, electronic warfare and signals intelligence. The U.S. Air Force has sent stealth F-22 Raptors to Qatar as part of a build-up of forces ahead of a possible clash with Iran and deployed stealth F-35s to the United Arab Emirates.
- The Boeing F-15E Strike Eagle is a superior next-generation multi-role strike fighter. It can fly at more than twice the speed of sound and can carry up to 23,000lb of payload including attack munition and stand-off weapon systems, missiles and a variety of bombs.
- The Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, which is in service with the U.S. Navy and the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). The combat capabilities of the fighter jet were provided during Operation Iraqi-Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Southern Watch and the war in Afghanistan.
U.S. Air Force F-22s and F-35s will soon launch and control recoverable attack drones, to expand air-combat operations, test enemy air defenses, conduct long-range ISR and even deliver weapons.
This fast-approaching technology is closer to reality due to DARPA’s Gremlins programme, which plans to break new ground by launching and recovering four drones from an in-flight C-130 next year. Air recoverable drones are slated to become operational within a few years. Gremlins are specially configured aerial drones able to be both launched from and return to a host aircraft.
- Russia’s MIG-21 is the most produced supersonic jet in aviation history. MIG-21 will reach 60 and probably last 70 years, and it remains one of the iconic fighters of the supersonic age.
- The Sukhoi SU-57 is a 5th generation, single-seat, twin-engine, multi-role fighter aircraft manufactured by Sukhoi, a subsidiary of Aircraft Corporation. The aircraft is designed to perform attack missions of the Russian Air Force. It can defend all types of ground-air and surface targets of the enemy and monitor airspace at longer ranges.
- The SU-30 MKI (Flanker-H) is a two-seat long-range multi-role fighter in service with the Indian Air Force, designed by Russia’s Sukhoi and assembled under license by Indian Hindustan Aeronautics Limited. The components are supplied by 14 manufacturers from six nations.
- The Sukhoi SU-35 is a heavily- modified version of the SU-27. The SU-35 is a 4++ generation aircraft employing 5th generation technologies. The SU-35 is capable of deploying long and short-range air-to-air missiles, bombs and rockets.
There are also big plans ahead for testing and further developing the heavily upgraded TU-22M3M, TU-16O and TU-95 MS.
Whereas Russia’s current crop of heavy strategic, nuclear-capable bombers is entirely composed of models from the Soviet era, the flagship military hardware project for the first prototype of Russia’s super new 6thgeneration PAK-DA stealth bomber, a fundamentally new fighter, will be based on new conceptual solutions and is expected in 2021-2022 with serial delivery beginning in 2028-2029.
China has some of the world’s most advanced weapon systems. China is now on the leading edge of a range of technologies, including its naval designs with medium and intermediate-range missiles, and with hypersonic weapons, where missiles can fly at many times the speed of sound and dodge missile defenses.
The Chinese Army has the Chengdu J-20, a 5th generation, single-seat, twin-engine stealth jet, which can perform aerial combat operations for the People’s Liberation Army Air Force. It is armed with air-to-air and short-range missiles, long-range air-to-air missiles, air-to-surface missiles, laser-guided bombs and anti-radiation missiles.
The Chinese Xian H-6 bomber is capable of carrying huge anti-ship ballistic missiles.
And China is building exact replica of U.S. stealth F-35 Jets … its FC-31 Gyrfalcon stealth prototype strives to match the U.S. F-35.
British Eurofighter Typhoon is a new generation multi-role fighter aircraft and is currently one of the best in the world. It is a delta wing aircraft and incorporates modern avionics and sensors. The Eurofighter Typhoon made its combat début in 2011 for reconnaissance and ground strike missions in Libya by the Royal Air Force (RAF) and the Italian Air Force.
France’s Dassault Rafale fighter jet is one of the best military aircraft in the world.
India has the 5th generation Sukhoi/HAL fighter aircraft.
The Japanese Mitsubishi X-2 Shinshin is a prototype of a stealth jet fighter and was constructed and used to study the radar cross-section in France in 2009.
Iran is not defenseless against M.S. air raids, and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Militia operate Russian-made S-200 and S-300 air defense systems as well as hundreds of fighters including dozens of modernised F-14s that Iran acquired from the United States in 1970.
Turkish military F-16 Viper fighter jets engaged in Libya and the country has Peace Eagle airborne early warning and control planes.
Countries and armies which possess these modern sophisticated weapons are the most powerful, but as we see they are powerless against the invisible Coronavirus.
Human civilisation has learned nothing from the wars in its history and is continually striving to make ever more destructive wars with enormous numbers of victims. Human beings have demonstrated so many times in history that they are not civilised.
We all well know that if it comes to warfare with the new generation weapons mentioned above it will lead to the total destruction of humanity and the planet … there will be no winner.
Understanding the lethal capabilities of these incredible combat aircraft and the future modern technological projects for the production… is this a warning of what is to come?
Nadia Batok, political scientist, international relations. She has a degree in Political Sciences, International Relations. She speaks and writes in English, Italian, Serbian and Croatian, Macedonian and a basic French.