WW3: US and Russia in race to develop hypersonic strike weapons – The US is racing Russia and China to develop a futuristic hypersonic strike weapons that can target anywhere in the world within hours.
Two senior Pentagon officials have urged defence contractors to move from the research stage to full-scale production of the weapons, reports the Washington Post.
Their comments came after Russian President Vladimir Putin last week oversaw a test of a new hypersonic glide vehicle – the Avangard.
Putin called it “invulnerable to intercept by any existing and prospective missile defence means of the potential adversary”.
Moscow said the nuclear-capable missile could travel up to 20 times the speed of sound.
The test comes amid bitter tensions in Russia-US relations, which have sunk to their lowest level since the Cold War times over the conflict in Ukraine, the war in Syria and the allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election.
It proved a rude wake-up call for the US that has traditionally led the world in advanced weapon development.
At a gathering of Pentagon officials and defence contractors, the US deputy defence secretary Patrick Shanahan outlined what he saw as a new arms race. “This is really about industrialization, not about science.”
And US undersecretary of defence for research and engineering Michael Griffin said he wanted to see mass production of the hypersonic weapons.
“This is not primarily a research effort,” Griffin said. “It is an effort to get these systems into the field in the thousands. We are going to have create a new industrial base for these systems.”
In Wednesday’s test, the Avangard was launched from the Dombarovskiy missile base in the southern Ural Mountains. The Kremlin said it successfully hit a designated practice target on the Kura shooting range on Kamchatka, 6000 kms away.
But only a week before the test, a senior US commander reportedly circulated a plan stating one of the Pentagon’s priorities was to build a hypersonic weapon by 2025.
Admiral John Richardson released the document, titled “A design for maintaining maritime superiority, Version 2.0”, reports Russia Today.
It said the Russia and China are aiming to “accumulate power at America’s expense” by building advanced strike weapons.
The US is striving to match Russia and China in the hypersonic arms race.
In April, the US Air Force handed a contract to Lockheed Martin to develop a hypersonic weapon prototype.
Another project known as “Glide Breaker” seeks to develop an interceptor that can deter hypersonic glide craft such as the Avangard.
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