The United States has some catching up to do in its arms race with China to develop hypersonic weapons, U.S. Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall said on Nov. 30.
“There is an arms race, not necessarily for increased numbers, but for increased quality,” Kendall told Reuters. “It’s an arms race that has been going on for quite some time. The Chinese have been at it very aggressively.”
China allegedly tested two hypersonic weapons this summer, according to reports by the Financial Times. The first test involved launching a rocket carrying a nuclear-capable hypersonic glide vehicle (HGV) into low Earth orbit, before launchingtwo missilesmidflight in the atmosphere. Details of the second test haven’t been reported.
Hypersonic weaponscan travel at Mach 5, or faster than five times the speed of sound. They could, in theory, be maneuvered to arc over the South Pole to evade U.S. missile defense systems, which are located in the Northern Hemisphere.