military.com claims that hypersonic missiles cannot be seen on radar:

And it's so fast that the air pressure in front of the weapon forms a plasma cloud as it moves, absorbing radio waves and making it practically invisible to active radar systems.

Is this true and what is pressure at nose of missile at 25Mach?

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    $\begingroup$ where did you read it? who said it? also, you title assumes that it is true, but the body asks if it is true. which is it? $\endgroup$
    – Federico
    Apr 23, 2022 at 9:35
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    $\begingroup$ Supersonic missiles can be seen on sufficiently capable radar. Even ICBM can. $\endgroup$ Apr 23, 2022 at 11:12

2 Answers 2


There is no reason that a hypersonic missile can either have a conventional or low observable signature on radar, depending on the angle of observation, shape and OML materials used in construction. It would be difficult to make a really stealthy hyper sonic weapon considering the issues with atmospheric friction heating during flight at speeds in excess of Mach 3. I’m sure R&D departments within the superpowers of the world are expending quite a bit of time and national treasure on heat resistant low observable materials.

What are the big problems we face with hypersonic weapons today is the difficulty to mount an adequate defense to track and kill them once detected. Missiles in general have very low observable cross sections when viewed from a frontal perspective and, with hypersonic weapons traveling 5-20x faster than conventional projectiles, this doesn’t leave a whole lot of time for a killchain to work properly. In addition, some kinds of existing anti-missile weapons eg CIWS, etc. may not be able to effectively engage and kill a hypersonic projectile.

That’s not to say that anti-hyper sonic weapons, almost certainly and development, will not be able to do this in the future.


Planetary radars can detect objects traveling at relative velocities of mach 100 at gigameter distances. While a missile is much smaller (both physically and in radar cross section) and less predictable than a planetary radar target, distance is overwhelmingly the main challenge for a radar.

Hypersonic missiles can certainly be seen on some radars. They cannot be seen on cheap radars.

Faster missiles reduce the time available to detect the missile and react to it. Saying a hypersonic missile is harder to detect is like saying a missile is hard to detect because it was launched near the target.


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