U.S. ‘behind the curve’ of hypersonic missile technologies of Russia, China

Army Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley told the Senate Armed Services Committee this week that both Russia and China were seeking to upgrade their military arsenals with deadly new futuristic weapons such as hypersonic missiles and lasers to challenge American state-of-the-art technology.

Regarding China, Ashley said it was developing high-speed ICBMs and bombers that are nuclear-capable, giving the country a full “triad” of air, land, and sea-launched nuclear capability.

As for Russia, President Vladimir Putin announced last week that his country’s military had developed new unstoppable nuclear-tipped ICBMs, one of which is a hypersonic glide vehicle.

“Developments in hypersonic propulsion will revolutionize warfare by providing the ability to strike targets more quickly, at greater distances, and with greater firepower,” Ashley said. “China is also developing increasingly sophisticated ballistic missile warheads and hypersonic glide vehicles in an attempt to counter ballistic missile defense systems.” [source]

Analysis: Russia does not have the military budget to compete with the U.S. military plane for plane, ship for ship, tank for tank, so the Kremlin instead decided to put money into the development of sophisticated new asymmetric systems aimed at defeating U.S. technology. China has opted to do the same, though its military budget has continued to increase over the past several years as it builds out and modernizes its forces. 

The Pentagon has said the U.S. is behind the curve when it comes to hypersonic technology, which is truly a game-changer. But military planners are putting more resources into developing hypersonic and expect to test a vehicle by 2020.

Jon E. Dougherty is a political, foreign policy and national security analyst and reporter with nearly 30 years of experience in both fields. A U.S. Army veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom, he holds BA in Political Science from Ashford University and an MA in National Security Studies/Intelligence Analysis from American Military University.

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