Monday, February 21, 2022

Hypervelocity Weapons: Why They Are of Such Concern

Why can't a Phalanx stop them? Are they coming too fast to hit?

The problem is a bit more complex.   KE=1/2 MV^2, where M is kilograms V is meters/second and KE is joules.  A 1 kg mass at Mach 5 (5000 m/sec.) is 12.5 million joules or just under 10 million foot pounds.  

Even if a Phalanx explodes the warhead, even a one kilogram fragment in motion is going to impart 10 million foot pounds from a piece of metal an inch or two in diameter.   What will 10 million footpounds do to the deck of an aircraft carrier or the presumably armored side or most vulnerable, the tower?  I suspect it is the analogy between a bowling ball tossed at you, and 230 grains "tossed" at 860 feet per second.  If multiple one kilogram fragments hit in a shotgun pattern, it will be devastating.   Is the hypersonic missile threat a bit more clear now?

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