by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent
(Worthy News) - The Pentagon is spending billions of dollars on developing two main types of ultra-fast hypersonic missiles in order to “dominate future battlefields,” the Times of Israel reports. Referring to Russia and China in an explanation for the move, President Trump told reporters on Friday: “We have no choice, we have to do it, with the adversaries we have out there.”
Hypersonic missiles fly at speeds of a mile a second or faster and are difficult to detect and destroy. The first type being developed is launched from a rocket and is call a hypersonic glide vehicle, the Times of Israel reports. The missile glides to a target at such high speed as to avoid being intercepted. The second type is known as a hypersonic cruise missile that can be launched from a fighter jet. This missile could be powered by a supersonic combustion ramjet, or scramjet, that allows it to fly and operate at lower altitudes.
Speaking to reporters about the developments in March, Pentagon Director of Defense Research Mark Lewis said: “Our ultimate goal is, simply, we want to dominate future battlefields.” Lewis said the US is working to keep up with China in the development of hypersonic missiles, the Times of Israel reported. On Tuesday Lewis told media: “By almost any metric that I can construct, China is certainly moving out ahead of us. In large measure, that’s because we did their homework for them.” Lewis explained the US had published preliminary research some years ago but that, later, “we kind of took our foot off the gas.” However, Lewis said, the Pentagon was now on course to catch up with and surpass China.
Senior Pentagon officials have stated that another key rival in this area is Russia, the Times of Israel reported. In December 2019, Russia announced its first hypersonic missile unit had become operational, flying 27 times faster than the speed of sound and making sharp maneuvers to bypass missile defenses. In a statement in February about America’s need to develop its own hypersonic missiles, President Trump said: “We need that because, again, Russia has some.”
In 2019, the Pentagon was spending around $2.4 billion on hypersonic weapons programs and its budget for this year is $3.4 billion, the Times of Israel reports. Going forward, the administration is asking Congress to approve a 2021 budget of $3.6 billion.
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