FEARS have been raised the Royal Navy’s two new aircraft carriers will be powerless to stop new high-speed Russian missiles by the time they come into service.
The deadly Zircon missile can reportedly travel at five to six times the speed of sound.
They use a ‘scramjet’ engine, that takes the oxygen it needs for propulsion from the atmosphere instead of a tank on board, making them smaller, lighter and faster than any other engines of its type.
Travelling at speeds up to 4,600mph, the weapons will be able to evade the air defence system on the new 65,000-tonne supercarriers, HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales, which will be based in Portsmouth.
The ships will use a Sea Ceptor missile system that can only shoot down missiles travelling up to 2,300mph.
One senior naval source told the Sunday People: ‘Hypersonic missiles are virtually unstoppable. The whole idea of the carrier is the ability to project power. But with no method of protecting themselves against missiles like the Zircon the carrier would have to stay out of range, hundreds of miles out at sea.’
A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Defence said: ‘We do not comment on force protection measures but keep threats constantly under review.’