Russia says it is working on a new range of laser, plasma and electromagnetic weapons as well as hypersonic missiles which would be able to hit a US aircraft carrier before the Pentagon even realised it had been fired.
The Kremlin’s Deputy Defence Minister Yuri Borisov said yesterday: ‘Coming next are hypersonic weapons, which require the use of principally new materials and control systems that operate in a completely different medium, in plasma.’
A hypersonic weapon is a missile which travels at Mach 5 – five times the speed of sound – and it would enable the Russians to strike a target thousands of miles away within minutes.
Tass reported that Mr Borisov told journalists at the Russian Academoy of Sciences that Moscow: ‘We expect an especially serious breakthrough in the field of laser issues, electromagnetic weapons and so on.’
The US and China are also believed to be working on laser weapons, which have the advantage of not running out of ammunition.
In 2010 the American arms giant Raytheon demonstrated a laser weapon which was able to shoot four drones out of the sky and in 2014 the US Navy carried out several laser tests in the Persian Gulf.
But Mr Borisov said Russian scientists were also working on future weapons which were ‘based on physical principles never used before in this field’.
He said: ‘Coming next are completely new principles of troop operations’ control because today one who learns to detect the enemy quicker and give the target designation – and all this has to be done in real time – is the one who actually wins.’
Painting a picture of a computer games-style world where the winner of a military conflict was the country who could operate complex weapons systems quickest, he said war decisions which previously took hours or even days were now down to minutes and ‘soon these will be seconds’.
He said: ‘We have mapped out a plan of action. On the one hand, our officers are learning in the direct meaning of this word – special courses are being organised for them. On the other hand, we have kindled academic institutes with our ideas to some extent and they are beginning to think about new approaches to modelling serious operations.’
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has been investing billions in modernising his country’s armed forces in recent years as an increasingly frosty ‘new cold war’ broke out with America under the Obama administration and its Nato allies, especially Poland and the Baltic states.
Donald Trump, who last weekend said NATO was ‘obsolete, is being inaugurated as President today and one of the first tasks he will have will be to decide whether to compete with Russia in the new arms race or try to ‘make peace’.
Earlier this week Russia’s Defence Ministry released a video showing soldiers in snow-camouflage firing the Tor system, which is designed to protect buildings from missile attack.
But the Tor could be used against anti-tank missiles in a war situation and it would even take out the Paveway laser-guided ‘bunker buster’ bomb which has been dropped by US planes during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.