According to Prof Alessio Patalano, the West is rapidly narrowing the gap between itself and Moscow and Beijing in terms of the deployment of cutting-edge hypersonic missiles. These missiles possess the remarkable ability to reach speeds up to five times the speed of sound, carry nuclear payloads, and skillfully evade radar detection. As the competition between nations intensifies, it becomes evident that the West is determined to keep pace with its counterparts in the development and utilization of these super-fast missiles.
According to Prof Patalano, our strategic rivals have been exploring hypersonics for a considerable period, and the Western nations are lagging behind in this field. However, he emphasized that we possess the necessary technical expertise and industrial knowledge to bridge this gap and potentially surpass our adversaries. In line with this, the government has recently launched a £1bn tender to incentivize defense companies to expedite the advancement of a next-generation hypersonic weaponry.
The United Kingdom has officially announced its commitment to collaborating with various countries including Australia, Japan, and the United States to advance its hypersonic capabilities. As part of the AUKUS deal, the UK will be working closely with Australia, while also developing the Tempest, a supersonic stealth fighter jet, in partnership with Japan. The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has released a document stating that the latest tender will establish a Framework aimed at fostering collaboration between the MoD, industry, and academia. This Framework will play a crucial role in expediting the acquisition of an advanced Hypersonic Strike Capability.
According to Prof Patalano, the current advancements in hypersonics can be seen in the latest updates to Tomahawk and the upcoming developments in GCAP. However, he emphasizes the need to progress towards the next generation. The £1bn tender marks the initial step in supporting the growth of the defense industry and the establishment of long-range capability within the country. Prof Patalano believes that it is crucial to provide the industry with the necessary resources to foster innovation. In a recent official signing ceremony in Tokyo, the UK, Japan, and Italy solidified their trilateral agreement to develop Tempest, also known as the Global Combat Air Programme. This program heavily relies on AI, utilizing a “digital twin” to reduce the costs of experimentation.