29 January, 11:51

US concerned by China's new hypersonic missile

US concerned by China's new hypersonic missile

China’s recent test of a new ultra-high speed strike vehicle highlights growing concerns that Chinese military advances will overtake those of the United States in as few as five years, a senior Pentagon official told Congress Tuesday. Frank Kendall, the Pentagon's chief weapons buyer, told lawmakers that when it comes to "technological superiority, the Department of Defence is being challenged in ways that I have not seen for decades, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region."

Citing China's major investments in anti-ship missiles, stealth fighter jets, hypersonic vehicles and other hi-tech weaponry, Kendall said the United States could lose its dominant position if it failed to respond to the altered strategic landscape.

The Pentagon is investing some resources in two forms of hypersonic arms: a ballistic missile boost glide vehicle and a jet powered, atmospheric cruise missile, he said.

Kendall said the threat of such hypersonic vehicles to the United States is that they are difficult for missile defenses to counter. The vehicles travel and maneuver while flying at speeds of up to Mach 10 or 7,680 miles an hour.

“The high speed of these systems makes it much more difficult for air defenses to engage,” he said.

"Their budget is far smaller than ours, but their personnel costs are also far smaller than ours," said Kendall, undersecretary of defence for acquisition, technology and logistics.

"Our budgets are going in the opposite direction. So just by that metric alone, it's not positive."

“A boost glide missile theoretically would be intended to counter existing mid-course missile defenses,” Mark Stokes, a former US Air Force officer said.

“The beauty of the HGV is that it can perform hypersonic precision strikes while maintaining a relatively low altitude and flat trajectory, making it far less vulnerable to missile defenses,” Rick Fisher, an analyst at the International Assessment and Strategy Center, told the Washington Free Beacon.

The Chinese are “actively seeking global military power to challenge the United States, and it is not yet in any mood to talk, or engage in arms control, about it,” Fisher said.

US officials said that, while the glide vehicle test was not an intelligence surprise, it showed China is moving much more rapidly than in the past in efforts to research, develop, and test advanced weaponry.

Adm. Samuel Locklear, commander of the US Pacific Command, noted that the hypersonic test demonstrated China’s ability to move quicker than the United States in developing some advanced arms.

Voice of Russia, RT, freebeacon.com, channelnewsasia.com

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