Pentagon: Good progress in developing hypersonic weapons

A senior Defense Department official said the U.S. military is continuing to advance hypersonic weapons research and development as planned, with the goal of testing hypersonic weapons for launch in the air, on the ground and at sea, and building them around 2025 or earlier.

In addition to offensive hypersonic weapons, the Defense Department is also actively developing weapons capable of defending against hypersonic attacks by potential adversaries such as China and Russia, including weapons that intercept the enemy at launch, glide and end-stage, Mike White, director of hypersonic weapons research and development at the Defense Department, said last week at a seminar hosted by a Washington think tank.

Last October, then-Defense Secretary Esper said the U.S. military was accelerating the development of hypersonic weapons in an effort to have the cutting-edge military technology in place by 2023. He said in February of the same year that the Pentagon was making important progress in its efforts to implement the national defense strategy, including the possibility of deploying hypersonic weapons years ahead of schedule.

The Pentagon’s FY 2022 defense budget, just declared to Congress, includes $6.6 billion for the development and deployment of long-range strike capabilities such as hypersonic weapons.

The Department of Defense’s total budget request of $715 billion includes $112 billion in funding for military technology development, testing and evaluation. Deputy Secretary Kathleen Hicks said Tuesday (June 8, 2021) that this is the largest annual budget the Defense Department has requested for the program in years.

Defense Secretary Austin has repeatedly said that dealing with China’s aggressive security challenges (pacing threat) is a top priority for the Defense Department.

Dr. Colin Kahl, Pentagon undersecretary for defense policy, said last month that China is the only country that can challenge the U.S. economically, technologically, politically and militarily in a systemic way, but that doesn’t mean the U.S. and China will inevitably have a conflict, “but it does mean that our relationship with Beijing will be more competitive and sometimes hostile.”