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DECEMBER 2020

Pentagon To Pursue “Very Aggressive” Expansion Of Hypersonic Weapons Testing

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Originally appeared at ZeroHedge

Over the past couple of years Putin and the Russian Defense Ministry have greatly hyped their hypersonic weapons program, even semi-frequently releasing images and videos of hypersonic missiles prototypes in action. China too has over the past months touted that it’s testing hypersonic surface-to-surface missiles which US officials fear could significantly shift the balance of power in the Pacific region.

And now the Pentagon has announced its own classified hypersonics program will undergo a “very aggressive” expansion over the course of the next year.

Pentagon To Pursue "Very Aggressive" Expansion Of Hypersonic Weapons Testing

Rendering of DARPA’s Hypersonic Air-Breathing Weapon Concept, via Raytheon/Defense News

Citing defense officials in a new report, Bloomberg reports this includes plans for at least “four initial flight tests of prototypes for glide bombs that can fly five times the speed of sound and maneuver en route,” and further extra funding and research under the newly established Hypersonics Transition Office.

In official statements last Friday Defense Secretary Mark Esper appeared to peripherally reference the program while previewing that the next Pentagon budget proposal will be aimed at drastically increasing funding for experimental and cutting edge defense technology, surpassing the already bloated current 5-year $5 billion budget. He referenced a developing “great-power competition” with China.

“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.

Among the few specifics that Bloomberg was able to glean from top officials, include the following plans:

  • Frequent testing efforts: Mike White, the Defense Department’s assistant director for hypersonics, said “We have plans to fly prototypes for land-, sea- and air-launched concepts being developed across our portfolio.”
  • The Navy, Army and Air Force, along with the Pentagon’s special advanced research agency, are all developing hypersonics.
  • Lockheed Martin and Raytheon are deeply involved as the prime contractors.
  • The Army is working on a “Long-Range Hypersonic Weapon”.
  • Schools like Purdue, Notre Dame, Texas A&M, and the University of Minnesota are set to receive major Congressional funding grants to pursue research into hypersonics.

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