Russia and China Are Catching Up on Hypersonic Missiles Amid US Neglect, Expert Says

Russia and China Are Catching Up on Hypersonic Missiles Amid US Neglect, Expert Says

Russia and China Are Catching Up on Hypersonic Missiles Amid US Neglect, Expert Says

0
Get started on your Homeland Security Degree at American Military University.

Russian President Vladimir Putin boasted Sunday of nearing deployment of nuclear-tipped hypersonic missiles with his Navy, upping the ante in a three-way arms race with the U.S. and China to develop super-fast missiles that can penetrate any existing defensive system.

At the annual naval parade in St. Petersburg, Putin did not detail specifically when hypersonic missiles would be deployed, but the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement that the weapons are in the final stages of testing.

“The widespread deployment of advanced digital technologies that have no equals in the world, including hypersonic strike systems and underwater drones, will give the fleet unique advantages and increased combat capabilities,” Putin said.

China has also made significant advances in hypersonics, according to Dr. Mark Lewis, director of Defense Research and Engineering for Modernization at the Defense Department.

Last October, Chinese President Xi Jinping presided at a military parade marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. During the parade, a purported vehicle-mounted DF-17 hypersonic nuclear missile was displayed.

At a June 30 Hudson Institute discussion, Lewis said both China and Russia have taken advantage of a lull in U.S. modernization to make advances in what he called the “game changer” technology of hypersonics.

“I’m often accused of saying speed is the new stealth,” he said, stressing the need for more focus and investment on hypersonics.

Stealth properties make bombers and fighters difficult to track, but hypersonic missiles traveling at speeds well in excess of Mach 5 mean that “you see me a little bit too late to do anything,” Lewis said.

The advantage of hypersonic missiles is usually “thought of only as speed,” he explained, adding that it’s actually speed plus the ability to change trajectory, giving the missiles the capability of “penetrating from long ranges with tremendous resilience.”

There is little time to react and that, combined with a less predictable trajectory, make hypersonic missiles “a class of weapons system which, frankly, is hard to counter,” Lewis said.

The U.S. once had a formidable lead in hypersonics technology, he added, but let that lead slip away.

“There was an element of hubris to it. We were so far ahead,” Lewis said. “We did their homework for [China and Russia]. We developed it. … Then, we kind of took our foot off the gas. We didn’t listen to our own advice. Now, we’re in a situation where we’re truly in a three-way race.”

As a result, China “hasn’t been shy” about showing off its advances in hypersonics. “That has been eye-opening,” he said.

On at least three occasions in recent months, President Donald Trump has made reference to U.S. development of what he called a “super-duper missile” that can travel up to 17 times Mach and hit targets with extreme precision.

At the June 13 West Point commencement ceremony, Trump touted overall U.S. investment in national defense.

“We are building new ships, bombers, jet fighters, and helicopters by the hundreds; new tanks, military satellites, rockets and missiles; even a hypersonic missile that goes 17 times faster than the fastest missile currently available in the world and can hit a target 1,000 miles away within 14 inches from center point,” he said.

In March, the Defense Department announced the successful test of a common hypersonic glide body (C-HGB) jointly executed by the Army and Navy in a launch from the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai, Hawaii.

The C-HGB flew at unspecified hypersonic speeds and successfully hit a designated impact area, according to the DoD.

“Today, we validated our design and are now ready to move to the next phase toward fielding a hypersonic strike capability,” said Vice Adm. Johnny R. Wolfe, director of the Navy’s Strategic Systems Programs.

In his remarks at the Hudson Institute, Lewis said fielding of hypersonic weapons by the U.S. is years away but added, “Our competitors should have no doubt we’re moving in a big way. Our goal is to deliver at scale in the mid-2020s.”

— Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com.

 

This article was from Military.com and was legally licensed through the Industry Dive publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@industrydive.com.

Comments

comments

Learn From The Leader

American Military University (AMU) is proud to be the #1 provider of higher education to the U.S. military, based on FY 2018 DoD tuition assistance data, as reported by Military Times, 2019. At AMU, you’ll find instructors who are former leaders in the military, national security, and the public sector who bring their field-tested skills and strategies into the online classroom. And we work to keep our curriculum and content relevant to help you stay ahead of industry trends. Join the 64,000 U.S. military men and women earning degrees at American Military University.

Request Information

Please complete this form and we’ll contact you with more information about AMU. All fields except phone are required.

Validation message here
Validation message here
Validation message here
Validation message here
Validation message here
Validation message here
Validation message here
Validation message here
Validation message here
Ready to apply? Start your application today.

We value your privacy.

By submitting this form, you agree to receive emails, texts, and phone calls and messages from American Public University System, Inc. which includes American Military University (AMU) and American Public University (APU), its affiliates, and representatives. I understand that this consent is not a condition of enrollment or purchase.

You may withdraw your consent at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy, terms, or contact us for more details.

tags: