A Minister has confirmed that the UK is “accelerating development of advanced hypersonic and counter-hypersonic capabilities”.
Jeremy Quin, Minister of State at the Ministry of Defence, said recently:
“The Integrated Review settlement has enabled the Ministry of Defence (MOD) to build upon previous research and development programmes to explore hypersonic technologies.
The MOD is working closely with AUKUS partners to accelerate development of advanced hypersonic and counter-hypersonic capabilities to meet current and future threats.”
In April, I reported that Britain would work with the US and Australia on the development of hypersonic weapons. In a joint statement, AUKUS leaders Johnson, US President Joe Biden and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said:
“Today, the leaders of the Australia-UK-US (AUKUS) partnership – Prime Minister Scott Morrison of Australia, Prime Minister Boris Johnson of the United Kingdom, and President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. of the United States – assessed progress under AUKUS. We reaffirmed our commitment to AUKUS and to a free and open Indo-Pacific. In light of Russia’s unprovoked, unjustified, and unlawful invasion of Ukraine, we reiterated our unwavering commitment to an international system that respects human rights, the rule of law, and the peaceful resolution of disputes free from coercion.
We are pleased with the progress in our trilateral programme for Australia to establish a conventionally armed, nuclear‑powered submarine capability. We are fully committed to establishing a robust approach to sharing naval propulsion technology with Australia that strengthens the global non-proliferation regime. We also committed today to commence new trilateral cooperation on hypersonics and counter-hypersonics, and electronic warfare capabilities, as well as to expand information sharing and to deepen cooperation on defence innovation. These initiatives will add to our existing efforts to deepen cooperation on cyber capabilities, artificial intelligence, quantum technologies, and additional undersea capabilities. As our work progresses on these and other critical defence and security capabilities, we will seek opportunities to engage allies and close partners.”
The First Sea Lord said recently that the Royal Navy is aiming to become “a global leader in hypersonic weapons”. The following is an excerpt from a speech given by First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Ben Key in Rosyth.
“At the steel cutting for HMS Venturer back in September, on this site, the Defence Secretary said it was not so much a milestone in the life of a single ship, as a glimpse of the future of our Fleet. It’s a future where we are setting ourselves a challenge to become a global leader in hypersonic weapons. A future where we’ll become more adaptive in how we use our platforms, high end war fighting, command and control, floating embassies for the United Nations. Highly lethal, highly reassuring and highly adaptable.
It’s where we will blend crewed and uncrewed systems, operating both F35 and drones from the same flight deck. A future where the Royal Marine Commandos will operate from our Multi role support ships, and ashore in small groups delivering training and support to teams afloat in the Littoral Response Groups and also delivering in a different way special support to maritime operations. And it’s a future where we will regain and retain operational advantage in the underwater domain.
So I have a call to arms for you in industry. I want you to feel as invested in this as we are, not because of your share price. Not because of the wonderful manufacturing facilities that allows you to create, but because you recognise you are integral to the success of a Global, Modern, and Ready Royal Navy.”
For more on Royal Navy plans to acquire new missiles, I recommend you check out the following article from defence analyst ‘NavyLookout, a great source of in-depth information.
Additionally, it was recently revealed that a key capability of the Type 83 Destroyer, the ship replacing the Type 45 Destroyer, will be the development of a counter-hypersonic capability. On the 14th of December 2021 the Defence Committee published a report titled ‘We’re going to need a bigger Navy’. The Government’s response has been published below.
The Defence Committee concluded in their report:
“The Defence Over the next decade the UK and the Navy will face an increasingly
complex international security environment. Russia and China will remain the
primary adversaries at sea, with the relative importance of the UK’s response to each
likely to shift and potentially interact through the decade. Developments in technology, particularly in hypersonic weapons, are changing the conduct of naval warfare and grey zone operations are becoming increasingly important for the UK’s security in the maritime domain, as they are in others.”
The Government responded:
“The Committee’s report aligns with the Government’s assessment of the
complex security environment. In the maritime environment, this is being driven
by the confluence of assertive state actors, who are increasingly operating in the ‘grey
zone’, and the proliferation of lethal technology.
The Integrated Review (IR) recognised this challenge and has invested in the Royal Navy (RN) accordingly. This included ‘subthreshold’ capabilities, such as enhancing the Royal Marines as a Special Operations capable Commando Force. The Defence Command Paper committed to a concept and assessment phase for the Future Air Defence system to replace the Type 45 Destroyer, a key element of which will be the development of a counter-hypersonic capability.”