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Fwd = Russia suspected of ultra-high speed missile test

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  • Frits Westra
    Forwarded by: fwestra@hetnet.nl (Frits Westra) URL: http://www.newscientist.com/news/news.jsp?id=ns99991097 Original Date: Fri, 3 Aug 2001
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 3, 2001
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      Forwarded by: fwestra@... (Frits Westra)
      URL: http://www.newscientist.com/news/news.jsp?id=ns99991097
      Original Date: Fri, 3 Aug 2001 04:41:13 -0700

      ========================== Forwarded message begins ======================


      Russia suspected of ultra-high speed missile test

      18:18 31 July 01
      David Windle

      As US President George W. Bush pushes ahead with the controversial
      National Missile Defence System, Russia appears to be testing a new
      generation of ultra-high speed missiles.

      US defence analysts have highlighted recent tests, originating in
      central Russia, that involved the launch of a 20-metre long SS-25
      intercontinental ballistic missile. Of particular interest is the
      flight path of its final stage.

      The analysts say that instead of its normal ballistic trajectory, it
      flew on a high altitude, level course at around 30,000 metres. Its
      speed is thought to have been in excess of five times the speed of
      sound. They claim that such flight characteristics indicate that it
      was powered by a scramjet engine.

      A scramjet is a combustion jet engine in which the airflow remains
      above Mach One at all times. In comparison, a ramjet engine can only
      operate if the air flow is is reduced to sub-sonic velocities at all
      times .

      Long shot

      Russian scramjet research is considered to be among the most advanced
      in the world. However, a senior UK defence analyst questions whether
      it is possible to infer that a scramjet was involved in the test.

      "Based on the sketchy information at hand, two possibilities - perhaps
      a combination of both - immediately spring to mind," says Duncan
      Lennox, editor of Jane's Strategic Weapon Systems.

      "The first is that the range of the re-entry vehicle was extended by
      the use of wings - this is not a new technique. The second is that a
      ramjet was ignited at an altitude of 30 km when the vehicle would have
      been travelling at around Mach Seven. As the Russians lead the world
      in ramjet research, this would be perfectly feasible."

      Lennox is doubtful that scramjet powered cruise missiles are likely to
      enter service in the next 10 years: 'Looking into the future in that
      approximate time frame, we may see them, but it's pretty unlikely
      before then."

      18:18 31 July 01

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