Top Pentagon Official Admits U.S. Lacks Clarity on Hypersonic Weapons

  • Our Bureau
  • 06:31 PM, September 21, 2021
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Top Pentagon Official Admits U.S. Lacks Clarity on Hypersonic Weapons
US experimental hypersonic aircraft Falcon HTV-2 illustration

The U.S. is lagging behind Russia and China in hypersonic Weapons to the extent that Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall said he is “unsatisfied” with the pace of progress in Air Force hypersonic programs.”

Admitting that the U.S. Air Force is yet to attain clarity on the use of hypersonic weapons, Kendall said the (US) Air Force must first define which “target set we want to address” with hypersonic missiles, then make the case for why hypersonics are “the most cost-effective way” to attack those targets.

Kendall was speaking to reporters September 21 at the Air Force Association’s Air, Space & Cyber Conference. There’s still “a question mark” about that, he said, though he admitted he hasn’t seen “all the analysis that has been done to justify the current program,” he said in comments quoted by Air Force Magazine.

Top Pentagon Official Admits U.S. Lacks Clarity on Hypersonic Weapons
Russian 3M22 Zircon hypersonic missile launch

Failed tests

The U.S. Air Force has so far failed to hold a successful test of the AGM-183 Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW), a boost-glide system that is accelerated to hypersonic speed by a rocket which then releases a hypersonic glide body.

While captive-carry tests have been conducted on a B-52 launch aircraft, the missile has failed to fly on its own at least twice. In addition, the Air Force is pursuing the Hypersonic Attack Cruise Missile to be launched from fighter aircraft.

Top Pentagon Official Admits U.S. Lacks Clarity on Hypersonic Weapons
B-52 bomber conducts captive-carry flight test of the AGM-183A ARRW

Russia ahead of the West in Hypersonic weapons

"For many years we have been trying to be on a par or catch up with the leading weapons developments of Western countries. And for the first time in all this time, we broke ahead. In the field of creating hypersonic weapons," Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov told reporters at the Tyumen Oil and Gas Forum on September 15.

According to Borisov, Russia is also ahead of the West in the field of "creating weapons on new physical principles." He said that "new types of engines are used for these weapons - compact nuclear installations of low power," his comments were quoted by Interfax.

"Now we have a serious advantage in this regard over the leading Western countries. And we will try to maintain this advantage," the deputy prime minister said.

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