By Jon Dougherty
(TNS) While the Pentagon was focused on fighting a pair of low-tech wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, China and Russia were focused on developing a next-generation ballistic missile capability that can blow past American missile defenses.
And they’ve both managed to do so.
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Notes the Washington Examiner this week:
Today, Russia reportedly has tested several hypersonic weapons that can be launched from ships, submarines, ballistic missiles, or through the air.
China has caught up in hypersonics, too, by studying U.S. research and investing heavily, said Mark Lewis, the Defense Department’s director of defense research and engineering for modernization, who also sat on the press briefing Monday.
Early on in President Trump’s term, the Pentagon ordered the services, led by the U.S. Air Force, to ramp up research and development of an American hypersonic capability. Now, the Pentagon is shifting that development into — sorry — hyperdrive.
The Epoch Times reported Friday:
Pentagon officials said on March 2 they are setting up a “hypersonic war room” to ensure that the U.S. industrial base is up to the task. The same day, the Secretary of the Army said they will test-fire two missiles this year as the Army accelerates to get hypersonics fielded by 2023.
Hypersonic missiles are not only capable of multiple-Mach-speed flight (over Mach 5), they are also highly maneuverable and virtually impossible, if not impossible, to track and destroy using currently-deployed missile defenses.
They are true game-changers, in other words. And when you arm them with nuclear warheads, the destruction of an enemy goes from 30 minutes to less than five, depending on where the missiles are launched.
“The Chinese are very focused in this area,” Timothy Walton, Senior Fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, told The Epoch Times.
“They are the world leaders in terms of intermediate-range ballistic missiles and hypersonic weapons today,” he told the Times.
“They’ve fielded a significant number of very long-range intermediate weapons. They’ve also fielded a hypersonic weapon that they’ve demonstrated and paraded last year, the DF-17,” he added, the Times reported. “They have at least an initial hypersonic weapon capability in addition to scores if not hundreds of intermediate-range ballistic missiles that have a comparable capability.”
For Fiscal Year 2020, the Pentagon has requested $2.6 billion for hypersonic-related research, but for the next fiscal year, the request increased to $3.2 billion.
And now, there are seven different hypersonics development programs across the Navy, Army, Airforce, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) are listed in a recent Congressional Research Service report.
But the name ‘hypersonic’ is misleading, say defense experts. The nuclear-tipped Minuteman III missiles attain speeds of Mach 23 on descent.
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Rather, the difference is not simply speed but maneuverability.
“Cruise missiles and glide missiles usually don’t fly as fast as Mach 5. So that’s really the new capability—that we have these cruise and glide missiles going really fast,” Patty-Jane Geller, a policy analyst in Nuclear Deterrence and Missile Defense at the Heritage Foundation, told the Epoch Times.
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