The United States has presently fallen behind its global adversaries China and Russia when it comes to the development and successful testing of hypersonic missiles, and it needs to do some really quick catching-up, according to a top general from the United States Space Force, who also explained the specific reasons for that.
The comments by General David “DT” Thompson, who is the vice chief of space operations for the US Space Force, the space service branch of the US military, come against the backdrop of heightened activity by both Russia and China in the field of hypersonic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapon payloads.
Hypersonic missiles are capable of traveling at a speed five times the speed of sound and at very low altitudes which makes them very hard if not impossible to intercept and destroy by missile defense systems.
While Russian leader Vladimir Putin has been touting his regime’s development of hypersonic missiles for a few years now, with many questioning whether his announcements and threats are true, the regime of Chinese leader Xi Jinping appears to be seeking to be completely secretive in that regard.
In October 2021, Russia successfully test-fired from a submarine its Zircon hypersonic missile.
According to a recent report by The Financial Times, which cited five US intelligence sources, in August 2021, the Chinese military carried out a rather successful hypersonic missile test in which a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile circumvented the globe before hitting within 30 miles of its target.
The report claimed that the news about the successful test left the US intelligence community dumbfounded.
Speaking during annual summit of the Washington, DC-based Halifax International Security Forum in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, on Saturday, Gen. David Thompson admitted that the US isn’t as advanced as China and Russia in the field of hypersonic programs, as cited by RT.
He emphasized that the United States is now supposed to be catching up to its rivals “very quickly”.
Thompson explained America’s lagging behind with concerns caused by bureaucracy and funding matters.
In his words, the United States should be able to accept greater risks of failure in order to accelerate the process of catching up with the Russians and the Chinese on hypersonic weapon systems.
According to current plans, the US Air Force plans to have an air-launched hypersonic missile in 2022.
The US Army is going to introduce a long-range, ground-launched hypersonic missile by September 2023.
The US Navy is planning to have a ship-launched missile already in 2025, and a submarine-launched missile in 2025-2028.
In his presentation, the USSF general also warned that China has “moved incredibly quickly in space” with respect to technologies, such as GPS, satellites, and communications.
It is close to being equal to the US, and could surpass America in the next few generations.