U. S. government to test hypersonic missiles 5x speed of sound

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The U. S. government will be experimenting with hypersonic missiles this year according to a Bloomberg report.

As part of a “great power competition” with China, Defense Secretary Mark Esper confirmed on Friday that the next Pentagon budget proposal will increase funding beyond the $5 billion provided in this year’s five-year budget plan for a technology that will form a key part of this “competition”.

“We have significantly ramped up flight testing and other experimentation so that we can accelerate the delivery of this capability — in all its forms — to our warfighters years earlier than previously planned,” Esper said.

According to a report by Michael Griffin, the undersecretary of defense for research and engineering, in 2018, China has conducted 20 times more hypersonic tests than the United States.

“By the end of the year we will have flown at least four times with different concepts,” Mike White, the Defense Department’s assistant director for hypersonics, said in an interview.

“This year will mark the transition of our development program” as concepts “have been matured” through ground testing and the design process, White said. “We have plans to fly prototypes for land-, sea- and air-launched concepts being developed across our portfolio.” He said Lockheed Martin Corp. and Raytheon Co. are developing the projects as the prime contractors.

“We need to be flying often,” added Mark Lewis, the Pentagon’s director of research and engineering. “We need to be willing to fail” and “test again, learn from those experiences.”

All of the U. S. military are developing prototypes.

The report states that the U.S Army is currently working on a “Long-Range Hypersonic Weapon” that service Secretary Ryan McCarthy said might be deployed with a new Pacific-based task force capable of conducting electronic, cyber, information and missile operations against China.

Not everyone is fully on board though as the Congressional Research Service has cautioned that Congress “might consider a number of questions about the rationale for hypersonic weapons.” The agency said there are issues surrounding the cost, strategic stability and arms control back in September.

The universities’ consortium that is being formed for the research could include Purdue, Notre Dame, Texas A&M, and the University of Minnesota. They will get a cut of a $100m Congress approved fund.

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