Washington, November 30 (Reuters) – There is an arms race going on between the United States and China to develop the most lethal hypersonic weapons, US Air Force Secretary Michael McConnell said on Tuesday.
Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall told Reuters during an interview in his Pentagon offices that “there is an arms race, not necessarily for increased numbers, but for increased quality.” “It’s been going on for a long time now. A lot of hard work has been done by the Chinese.”
Chinese military experts believe Beijing is pursuing an Earth-orbiting missile defence system by conducting a test of a hypersonic weapon in October, which was confirmed by the top US military officer, General Mark Milley.
More than five times the speed of sound, hypersonic weapons travel at an altitude of about 6,200 kilometres (3,853 miles) per hour through the upper atmosphere of the earth.
Despite the US military’s focus on Iraq and Afghanistan, Kendall noted that it has been neglecting hypersonic weapons development. This isn’t to say that we’ve done nothing, but we haven’t done enough,” he said.
To raise money as the Pentagon enters its annual budget cycle in 2023, Kendall plans to retire outdated systems and replace them with new ones, including hypersonic development programmes.
“The A-10 is one of my favourite planes. For many missions, the C-130 has proven to be a very capable and effective aircraft. Using the MQ-9s for counterterrorism and other purposes have been a great success. No one in China is scared of these things, but they are still useful “According to Kendall, this includes a nearly 40-year-old combat plane, a cargo plane, and widely used drones.
Additionally, defence contractors hope to profit from the shift to hypersonic weapons by developing new detection and defeat mechanisms.
All three of the world’s major arms producers have been promoting their hypersonic weapons programmes to investors as the world shifts its attention to an emerging class of weapons.
Although the head of research and development for the next generation of super-fast missiles has stated that they currently cost tens of millions of dollars per unit, the Pentagon still wants defence contractors to reduce the ultimate cost of hypersonic weapons.
The Pentagon has conducted a number of high-speed weapons tests this year, with mixed results. As of October, the Navy successfully tested an engine that would power an aloft vehicle that could carry a hypersonic missile.
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