Featured US puts over $60 million towards developing hypersonic defence technology

Published on November 20th, 2021 📆 | 3043 Views ⚑

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US puts over $60 million towards developing hypersonic defence technology

The US is putting more than $60 million (£44m) towards developing weapons to protect the country from hypersonic attacks following the news last month that China had successfully tested nuclear-capable missiles in space.

Defense giants Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman have all been awarded major contracts to build glide phase interceptors  that could counter a hypersonic assault, the Pentagon announced on Friday.

Hypersonic missiles can fly more than five times the speed of sound (Mach 5).

But unlike traditional ballistic missiles, they are more maneuverable and can trace a low trajectory in the atmosphere, making them harder to defend against.

In October, it emerged that the Chinese military secretly launched a rocket carrying a hypersonic glide vehicle into space, which flew around the globe through low-orbit space before returning to Earth in summer.

While the missile reportedly missed its target by about two dozen miles, the test showed China had made rapid progress on the lightning-fast weapons and was far more advanced than US intelligence officials had realised, according to the Financial Times, which broke the story.

“We have no idea how they did this,” the FT quoted one official as saying.

Robert Wood, America’s disarmament ambassador, later said Washington was “very concerned” by the test.

He admitted that at present: “We just don’t know how we can defend against that type of technology, neither does China or Russia”.

Countries including the US, UK, Russia and North Korea have all been working on developing hypersonic missiles, which are considered to be a game changer in any future conflict.

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