FRANCE is set to build a state-of-the-art armoury of hypersonic weapons capable of travelling more than 3,800mph, in a bid to upgrade their ageing nuclear arsenal as they fall behind other world military powers.
By Thomas Mackie 16:11, Sat, Feb 9, 2019 | UPDATED: 16:42, Sat, Feb 9, 2019
France is starting to build their own hypersonic weapon (Image: GETTY)
The French Defence Ministry has promised to test a prototype hypersonic glider missile device in just two years time. “We have decided to issue a contract for a hypersonic glider demonstrator,” Defense Minister Florence Parly said during the unveiling of the V-MaX project. France has already carried out studies on propulsion systems for hypersonic flights as part of a £32 billion overhaul of its nuclear arsenal.
Hypersonic gliders would be carried to the edge of the earth’s atmosphere by a launch vehicle and would then “glide” back to a target on the ground.
France’s main nuclear-tipped air-to-surface cruise missile, the ASMP, is capable of flying up to Mach 3, which is 2,300 mph.
To be deemed hypersonic, the new device must be capable of flying at least five times the speed of sound (3,800mph).
However many hypersonic weapons can travel much faster, with Russia’s latest glider reaching speeds of 20,700mph.
Defense Minister Florence Parly said “We have decided to issue a contract for a hypersonic gliders” (Image: GETTY)
The French Directorate General of Armaments (DGA) admitted the country had “relatively little experience” in the hypersonic field.
In March last year Russia unveiled a new range of weapons, including two hypersonic devices, the Kinzhal air-launched missile and the Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle.
The Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle is capable of flying at least 10 times faster than sound and has been already deployed to the Russian Air Force.
A display of Rusia’s Avangard hypersonic boost-glide weapon (Image: GETTY)
The device can reach speeds of 20,700mph and was successfully tested last year.
The system is launched on top of an inter-continental ballistic missile and works as a delivery vehicle for a nuclear warhead.
China has also carried out a series of successful tests on a hypersonic glider vehicle since 2014.
The device is believed to be capable of reaching speeds up to 7,700mph.
The US has been lagging behind the two superstates in the development of hypersonic gliders but Donald Trump’s administration has recently embarked on a programme to catch up as fast as possible.