Both countries are ramping up their defence capabilities & the race between the two is only intensified as the US is planning to equip with hypersonic missiles

World's two superpowers China and the US have been at the loggerheads due to the trade war followed by the deadly Coronavirus pandemic which affected the US the most with the maximum number of cases and fatalities as compared to any other country. 

Both countries have been ramping up their defence capabilities and the race between the two is only intensified as the US is planning to equip its destroyers and submarines with hypersonic missiles, as per a South China Morning Post (SCMP) report citing analysts. According to SCMP, if the US Navy equips hypersonic missiles on its destroyers, it will outperform China's supersonic anti-ship missiles.

The decision by the US to install hypersonic missile systems comes after US Secretary of Defence Mark Esper said that the US Navy would require more than 500 ships in its fleet to ensure maritime superiority over China in coming decades.

The SCMP has reported that the US is mounting the hypersonic systems to counter the threat posed by China in the Pacific region. However, China is also adding a wide array of weapons such as the anti-ship ballistic missiles and cruise missiles to counter the American warships.

A report from the US Congressional Research Service released last month called the Chinese Navy a formidable force in the waters near Chinese borders. It was the first such challenge the US Navy had faced since the end of the Cold War, the report said.

What Do The Experts Say? 

US Security expert Timothy Heath have opined that the current anti-ship missiles launched from US Navy destroyers can reach perhaps 300km to 560km. The hypersonic missile would dramatically increase the range to hundreds or perhaps thousands of miles and it would also be extremely difficult to shoot down with anti-missile systems, due to the speed of the warhead, security experts have contended.

Heath said that currently if the US ships tried to get close enough to China, they could be sunk by Chinese land-based anti-ship ballistic and cruise missiles. But with the deployment of hypersonic missiles, the US ships if engaged in a battle with China, would be able to target Chinese ships that operate close to China's coast under the protection of its counter-intervention capabilities.

Hong Kong-based military expert Song Zhongping also seconded Heath by saying that Chinese ships would face a big threat if the US Navy gets equipped with hypersonic weapons. To counter the threat, he said China has already taken measures like equipping the Type 730 close-in weapon systems and supersonic variants of YJ-18 cruise missiles to various naval vessels, improving surface-to-air missiles to intercept incoming targets.