B-21 ‘downed’ by 6 Mach speed missile coming from near space

    WORLD  28 November 2023 - 19:31

    Chinese scientists, via a simulation, have found that their hypersonic missiles can intercept US stealth aircraft, such as the B-21 Raider. Remarkably, these hypersonic missiles are also capable of communicating with each other and with other drones, a feature made possible through the application of Artificial Intelligence [AI].

    The cutting-edge B-21 Raider, specifically designed to confront China by eluding its formidable air force and anti-stealth radars, may yet be susceptible to missiles launched from near space. This contrasts with other conventional ground and air-based missiles and radars, which can be scrambled using their electronic warfare [EW] abilities, according to Chinese scientists’ conjecture from a war game, according to BulgarianMilitary.com.

    A team of researchers, under the guidance of Associate Professor Chen Jun from Northwestern Polytechnical University in Xian, presented their findings in the acclaimed journal, Acta Aeronautica et Astronautica Sinica, as referenced in a South China Morning Post [SCMP] article. The inaugural flight of The Raider happened on the 10th of November. 

    Missile vs. B-21 Raider

    Researchers have discovered that through the utilization of cutting-edge hardware and innovative strategies, China can identify adversaries before they do. “In a simulated military scenario, equipment reminiscent of the B-21 stealth device and its corresponding drone were successfully intercepted by China’s air-to-air missiles, which boast an impressive maximum velocity of Mach 6,” the document revealed.  

    Nudging just under the speed of sound at approximately 1,000 kilometers (620 miles per hour), the Raider stands as the front-runner in the Penetrating Counter Air [PCA] strategy of the US Air Force (USAF), a plan crafted specifically for aerial combat with China.

    Earlier reports by EurAsian Times have highlighted the Raider’s designed objective; to pierce through China’s sophisticated integrated air defense system to launch standoff air-to-ground munitions at either air defense missile/radar sites or other pivotal strategic targets.

    The Raider may also be accompanied by wingman drones and is equipped with an array of onboard electronic intelligence [ELINT], electronic countermeasures [ECM], and electronic warfare [EW] suites. This powerful tech line-up is designed to penetrate China’s anti-access/area-denial [A2/AD] defenses, enabling the Raider to successfully release long-range standoff weapons on Chinese inland objectives, and then retreat safely.

    According to a recent report, this potent PCA [Penetrating Counter Air] strategy “could present a significant challenge to China’s air defense, which has traditionally been largely dependent on radar warning systems situated on land, at sea, or on airborne platforms,” the report said.

    B-21 was unveiled - the backbone of deep penetration US aviation

    Pulse engine

    A simulation conducted by Chen’s group revealed that the power output of China’s hypersonic missiles, equipped with an innovative solid fuel “pulse engine,” can be modified freely during flight. These missiles can initially reach near space before descending upon enemy aircraft at exceptionally high speeds.

    In an illustrative mock-up battle, the American stealth plane, equipped with advanced sensors, detected an incoming missile at its early launch stage. Immediately, it executed a sharp turn to dodge the assault. Surprisingly, the Chinese missile then swiftly switched to another hypersonic missile, already on its trajectory to attack the B-21 drone. This was an unexpected maneuver as the American aircraft had not anticipated the Chinese missiles’ ability to change targets.

    With significant innovation, Chen’s team demonstrated that the revamped Chinese anti-PCA strategy offers a superior level of freedom. This facilitates quick decision-making amongst humans, drones, and missiles at varying stages of combat, all powered by Artificial Intelligence [AI].

    Jamming

    Essentially, this means that China has developed the capability to communicate with hypersonic missiles. This is a major breakthrough in a field that has been notoriously challenging due to the communication ‘blackout’ caused by objects entering or traversing the Earth’s atmosphere at hypersonic speeds; speeds above Mach 5.

    The high levels of heat generated on these objects’ surfaces as a result of atmospheric friction lead to the formation of ‘plasma shields.’ This ionized gas, acting as an impenetrable shield, blocks communication signals. Ground-based radar struggles to detect and lock onto hypersonic targets obscured behind these plasma barriers – a major issue often referred to as the “black barrier.” 

    Despite these challenges, reports suggest that China has achieved notable progress in high-speed communications. Some of these advancements specifically address the aforementioned problem, while others reflect more general leaps forward in the field of electronics sciences. Such breakthroughs could potentially enable China to guide a hypersonic missile toward the B-21 Raider, given it was detected in the first place.

    • In January 2022, a significant accomplishment in Chinese advancements in hypersonic technology was recorded. The Science and Technology in Space Physics Laboratory asserted they had discovered a method to sustain reliable communication with a hypersonic missile.
    • The School of Precision Instruments and Optoelectronics Engineering at Tianjin University has developed a laser system capable of generating a steady stream of electromagnetic waves in the terahertz spectrum – a critical component for the forthcoming 6G communication technology. 
    • In January 2022, an advancement in 6G technology astounded the world when researchers set a new record by achieving a transmission speed of 206.25 gigabits per second. 
    • Independent research on the issue of communication interference with hypersonic missiles has put forth the idea of a vast high-frequency communications network, comprised of ground-based stations, satellites in orbit, and marine vessels. 
    • Notably, China has earned the distinction of being the inaugural nation to launch a dedicated 6G satellite. This technological marvel was propelled into space on November 6, from the Taiyuan Space Center. This innovative technology utility utilizes high-frequency terahertz waves, boasting data transmission speeds that significantly outpace those anticipated from 5G capabilities.

    No one is operationally ready

    In the middle of October, a successful test was conducted by researchers at the Xian Institute of Optics and Precision Mechanics under the Chinese Academy of Sciences [CAS]. They worked on a device installable on a satellite, capable of transmitting light signals between different locations without their conversion to electrical signals. Dubbed as “spaceborne optical switching technology,” it was launched into space using China’s Y7 carrier rocket in August. It was reported that, upon data retrieval, the transferred information remained absolutely pristine with zero data loss.

    This suggests that China might use one, a combination, or possibly all six of the patented inventions to oversee its hypersonic missiles. This facilitates China to efficiently target either land or air, as in the case of the B-21 Raider. 

    The use of a high-cost hypersonic missile can also be deemed reasonable, given that the target could be a similarly expensive stealth fighter. It could potentially target the exact launch sites from where China’s hypersonic missiles might be dispatched. 

    However, it’s worth noting that both the hypersonic communications technologies (some of which exist merely as theoretical models) and the Raider require time to become fully operational. By this period, China’s universities and PLA-related labs will likely discover other means to detect stealth functions. Consequently, the necessity to use hypersonic missiles to demolish an advanced stealth bomber may not even occur.

    Caliber.Az

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