(Advanced) Hypersonic Weapons Systems (HWS) (missiles, vehicles, etc.) operate at speeds greater than Mach 5 (6125 kph). In such a regime, the dissociation of air becomes significant, and rising heat loads pose an extreme threat to the vehicle. Hypersonic flight phases occur during re-entry from space into the atmosphere or during propelled/sustained atmospheric flight by rocket, scramjet or combined cycle propulsion.
This class of weapon system includes air-launched strike missiles (HCM), manoeuvring re-entry glide vehicles (HGV), ground-sea ship killers, and post-stealth strike aircraft. Systems of this nature may rely primarily on kinetic effects alone or include supplemental warheads (nuclear or non-nuclear).
Countermeasures against hypersonic systems’ individual, salvoed, or swarms are particularly challenging due to the speed and manoeuvrability of hypersonic vehicles.