Asia

US in hypersonic weapon ‘arms race’ with China: Air Force secretary


The United States and China are engaged in an arms race to develop the most lethal hypersonic weapons, the US Air Force secretary mentioned on Tuesday, as Beijing and Washington construct and take a look at an increasing number of of the high-speed next-generation arms.

“There is an arms race, not necessarily for increased numbers, but for increased quality,” Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall instructed Reuters throughout an interview in his Pentagon places of work. “It’s an arms race that has been going on for quite some time. The Chinese have been at it very aggressively.”

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In October, the highest US army officer, General Mark Milley, confirmed a Chinese hypersonic weapons take a look at that army specialists say seems to indicate Beijing’s pursuit of an Earth-orbiting system designed to evade American missile defenses.

This yr the Pentagon has held a number of hypersonic weapons exams with combined success. In October, the Navy efficiently examined a booster rocket motor that may be used to energy a launch car carrying a hypersonic weapon aloft.

Hypersonic weapons journey within the higher ambiance at speeds of greater than 5 instances the velocity of sound, or about 6,200 kilometers (3,853 miles) per hour.

Kendall famous that whereas the US army has centered funds on Iraq and Afghanistan, it has taken its eye off the ball when it comes to hypersonic weapons. “This isn’t saying we’ve done nothing, but we haven’t done enough,” he mentioned.

As the Pentagon enters the 2023 annual funds cycle, Kendall hopes to lift funds with the retirement of older and expensive-to-maintain methods in favor of latest methods, together with hypersonic growth applications.

“I love the A-10. The C-130 is a great aircraft that’s been very capable and very effective for a lot of missions. The MQ-9s have been very effective for counterterrorism and so on. They’re still useful, but none of these things scare China,” Kendall mentioned, referring to a greater than 40-year-old fight plane, a aircraft for carrying cargo, and broadly used drones, respectively.

Defense contractors hope to capitalize on the shift to hypersonic weapons not solely by constructing them, but in addition by growing new detection and defeat mechanisms.

Arms makers Lockheed Martin Corp, Northrop Grumman Corp and Raytheon Technologies Corp have all touted their hypersonic weapons applications to traders as world focus shifted to the brand new arms race for an rising class of weapon.

Still, the Pentagon desires protection contractors to chop the final word price of hypersonic weapons, the pinnacle of analysis and growth has mentioned, as the following era of super-fast missiles being developed at present prices tens of hundreds of thousands per unit.

Read extra: US taps Raytheon, Lockheed and Northrop for hypersonic defense



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