Chinese, Russian high-speed weapons a new concern
OMAHA—China and Russia are developing maneuvering high-speed strike vehicles that pose new threats to the United States, U.S. Strategic Command leaders said Wednesday.
Adm. Cecil D. Haney, Strategic Command’s (Stratcom) senior leader, said during remarks at a nuclear deterrence conference that despite arms control efforts, hypersonic weapons are among several threatening strategic trends emerging in the world.
China has conducted four flight tests of a 7,000 mile-per-hour maneuvering strike vehicle, and Russia is developing high-speed weapons and reportedly tested a hypersonic weapon in February.
“Nation states continue to develop and modernize their nuclear weapon capabilities,” Haney said. “Nuclear and non-nuclear nations are prepared to employ cyber, counter-space, and asymmetric capabilities as options for achieving their objectives during crisis and conflict, and new technologies such as hypersonic glide vehicles are being developed, complicating our sensing and defensive approaches.”
The advanced weapons capabilities are being proliferated by U.S. adversaries and “are becoming increasingly mobile, hardened, and underground, which is further compounded by a lack of transparency,” the four-star admiral said.
Asked later about the hypersonic missile threat, Haney said the Pentagon is developing capabilities that can be used to counter hypersonic arms.
“As I look at that threat, clearly the mobility, the flight profile, those kinds of things are things we have to keep in mind and be able to address across that full kill chain,” Haney said.
“Kill chain” is military jargon for the process used to find targets, gauge location and speed, communicate data to weapons used to strike the target, and then launch an attack.
Hypersonic weapons are ultra-high speed weapons launched atop missiles that accelerate to speeds of between Mach 5 and Mach 10—five and ten times the speed of sound. The vehicles fly along the edge of space and can glide and maneuver to targets.
Air Force Lt. Gen. James Kowalski, the outgoing deputy commander at Stratcom, said hypersonic strike vehicles are part of efforts by nations to gain strategic advantage.
Hypersonic weapons technology “certainly offers a number of advantages to a state,” Kowalski said.
“It offers a number of different ways to overcome defenses, whether those are conventional, or if someone would decide to use a nuclear warhead, I think gives it an even more complicated dimension,” Kowalski added.
Full article: Strategic Command Focused on Hypersonic Missile Threat (Washington Free Beacon)