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The Strategic Implications of Hypersonic Missiles

In a context of mounting international tension, the world’s three main military powers (namely the United States and its near-peer competitors, Russia and China) are developing new weapons to gain the upper edge in case of war. Among them, hypersonic missiles are playing an increasingly important role. This paper examines the intended use of hypersonic missiles and the potential implications of both conventional and nuclear-armed systems, notably in the event of a crisis involving the three major powers.

Its purpose is not to provide an abstract and academic-like demonstration on the effects of hypersonic missiles on the strategic equilibrium, but to present possible scenarios in order to raise the awareness on the risks that the deployment of such weapons could have.

In particular, while such weapons do not alter the existing strategic equilibrium and its logic, in the event of a crisis it is impossible to determine beforehand what would happen due to the inherent ambiguity of these missiles and many other factors, but it is legitimate to believe that hypersonic missiles would favour a preemptive strike logic that could lead to an escalation (possibly nuclear).

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Artistic rendering of an HGV. Credits: Raytheon. Source: International Business Times.
Copyright A. Gagaridis, 2017-2019. All rights reserved / Tutti i diritti riservati.
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