DARPA, the Pentagon's R&D agency, chose the aircraft manufacturer Northrop Grumman a few days ago to carry out the study and technological demonstration phase of its Glide Breaker defense concept against hypersonic threats . Launched in 2018, Glide Breaker is part of a broader effort to defend against hypersonic missiles. This section in particular is primarily concerned with the destruction of hypersonic gliders (Hypersonic Glide Vehicles in English), such as the Russian Avangard or the Chinese DF-17 .
HGVs developed in recent years are revolutionizing strategic warfare by replacing the old inert charges of ballistic missiles. Hypersonic gliders are initially powered by a conventional rocket, like the re-entry vehicles found on ballistic missiles. Unlike the latter, however, HGVs do not have predictable, or ballistic, flight behavior. On the contrary, their shape and their guidance system allow them to bounce on the upper layers of the atmosphere and even move freely there, to a certain extent. This results in unpredictable behavior for traditional defense systems, which until now aimed to place a kinetic interceptor in the path calculated in advance of the nuclear warheads.
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