BAE Systems Australia has announced additional funding for the development of Canberra’s hypersonic weapons capabilities.
The global arms manufacturer will invest $5 million this year and an undisclosed amount of money over the next four years to build a high-speed weapons ecosystem in the country, it said in a statement.
The amount will be on top of the more than $11 million that the company has already invested in hypersonic and high-speed weapons research in Australia in the past decade.
What are hypersonic weapons?
Hypersonic weapons, specifically missiles, are even faster than supersonic varieties, i.e. faster than the speed of sound, and mean they travel at above Mach 5. That’s 1.7 kilometres per second. Some missiles however, can travel even faster than this, possibly as fast as 9.3 kilometres per second.
That’s the difference between travelling from Sydney to Melbourne in seven minutes or 76 seconds.
Hypersonic missiles currently can be fired from either a static object such as an aircraft or ship, or they can be fired into the atmosphere with a ‘booster’ which eventually releases it and it can re-enter the atmosphere and use momentum to generate speed. They can be armed with either conventional or nuclear warheads.