US, WASHINGTON (ORDO NEWS) — The Pentagon wants in 2021 to receive $ 3.6 billion for the development of hypersonic weapons. Fearing Russian and Chinese achievements in rocket science, the Trump administration says the US needs “superfast” missiles. Critics are afraid of a new arms race.
They fly at a speed of one and a half kilometers per second, or even faster. And they maneuver in such a way that it is extremely difficult to detect and destroy them in flight.
President Donald Trump calls them “superfood” missiles, although they are better known as hypersonic weapons. And the presence of such weapons in China and Russia is of great concern to the Trump administration.
For decades, the United States has been looking for opportunities to create ultra-high-speed aircraft. But they did it in swoops and snatches. Now that China and Russia seem to be ahead of America in this race, the Trump administration has decided to invest billions of dollars in the creation of hypersonic offensive and defensive assets.
The Pentagon does not hide its goals.
“Our ultimate goal is simple: we want to dominate the future battlefield,” Mark Lewis, director of defense research and modernization, told reporters in March.
Critics say hypersonic weapons will not add to the country’s ability to prevent war. And some people believe that it will provoke a new, destabilizing arms race.
What is so special about this hypersonic weapon?
Two characteristics make it special: speed and maneuverability. Speed gives surprise, and maneuverability provides elusiveness. Together, these qualities hold great promise for missile defense.
According to the generally accepted definition, a hypersonic weapon is a weapon whose speed is more than five times the speed of sound. Most American missiles, such as air-to-air and air-to-ground, have a speed of one to five Mach numbers.
Trump periodically shows interest in hypersonic weapons, although he does not always use this name. In February, he told the governors who arrived at the White House: “We have superfast missiles, a huge number of superfast ones. We call them superfast because they are four, five, six and even seven times faster than conventional rockets. We need such missiles because Russia has them.”
And last Friday, Trump told reporters: “We have no choice, we must make them with such opponents.” He meant China and Russia. Trump went on to say, “I call them superfood missiles. I heard that they fly 17 times faster than any other American missiles. The developers have just received the go-ahead. ”The Pentagon did not comment on this statement.
How it works
The Pentagon intends to create two main types of hypersonic weapons. The first, known as a planning hypersonic aircraft, is launched by a rocket. After starting, he plans in the direction of the target, and at the same time maneuvers at high speed, moving away from the interception.
The second type is sometimes called a hypersonic cruise missile. Its launch can be carried out from a fighter or from a bomber. Such a missile will be equipped with a hypersonic ramjet engine, and this will allow it to fly and maneuver at lower altitudes.
On March 19, the Pentagon conducted flight tests of a hypersonic glider at its Pacific missile range on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. He considered the tests successful and stated that this was “an important milestone on the way to achieving the ministry’s goal of adopting hypersonic weapons in the early to mid-2020s.”
The United States says that unlike Russia, they will not equip their hypersonic weapons with nuclear warheads. For this reason, American hypersonic weapons must be more accurate, and this creates additional technical difficulties.
Back in 2017, the Pentagon spent about $ 800 million on a hypersonic weapons program. The next year, spending almost doubled, and a year later reached $ 2.4 billion. This year, the amount allocated for these purposes is 3.4 billion dollars. The administration’s budget application for 2021, which has not yet been approved by Congress, indicates the figure of $ 3.6 billion.
For the Pentagon, these costs are a priority, but they can be limited due to the burden on the budget due to the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. It is expected that federal spending on these goals will amount to several trillion dollars.
Why is it important
The Pentagon High Command says that it is all about Russia, and even more so to China.
“By almost any measure I can imagine, China has definitely surpassed us,” Lewis said on Tuesday. “To a large extent, this is due to the fact that we did all the homework for them.” The results of basic research in this area were published in the United States a few years ago. “And then we kind of took our foot off the gas pedal,” Lewis added.
True, now the Pentagon is on the right track and must catch up and overtake China, continued this head of the military department.
China is making headway in creating hypersonic weapons. He successfully conducted several tests of a medium-range ballistic missile DF-17, which is designed to launch hypersonic warheads. As noted in a March report by the Congressional Research Service, US intelligence estimates that the launch range of the DF-17 is from 1,600 to 2,400 kilometers, and it can be transferred to the troops this year.
In December last year, Russia said it had adopted the first hypersonic planning warhead. This is the Avangard missile system. According to Moscow, this missile can fly at a speed of M = 27, that is, 27 times faster than the speed of sound, and also make sharp maneuvers, moving away from enemy missile defense systems.
This combat unit is placed on the existing Soviet-made intercontinental ballistic missiles, and in the future they will be equipped with the more powerful Sarmat ICBM, which is currently under development.
Why is it necessary
As in the situation with other types of strategic weapons, such as nuclear or Navy fleets, the Trump administration considers hypersonic weapons to be absolutely necessary for the United States, since the enemy of America has equal strength.
However, critics believe that hypersonic weapons are already too much. In their view, it is able to extend the arms race that the United States and the Soviet Union waged during the Cold War, creating excessive nuclear arsenals.
In addition, there are fears that these technologies will go beyond the United States, Russia and China, and as a result, other players will have such weapons.
“The proliferation of these weapons outside the three countries could create a situation where less powerful states put their strategic forces on alert and threaten to attack the leading powers,” the RAND state research organization noted in a 2017 report.
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