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 By Jack Davis  November 21, 2021 at 1:08pm

The United States is losing the race to remain on top as China and Russia develop hypersonic weapons, according to a top Space Force commander.

“We’re not as advanced as the Chinese or the Russians in terms of hypersonic programs,” Gen. David Thompson, vice chief of space operations, said Saturday during an appearance at the Halifax International Security Forum, according to Politico.

Noting that China recently had a successful hypersonic weapons test and Russia recently launched its version of a hypersonic missile, he said the United States has “catching up to do very quickly.”

Hypersonic vehicles travel at Mach 5, five times the speed of sound, or faster, but also have advanced maneuverability capability that allows them to dodge existing weapons systems and radar.

Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall earlier this fall warned that China now had the “potential for global strikes  … from space,” according to Air Force Magazine.

Current plans call for the U.S. to have an Army hypersonic missile in 2024 and a Navy one in 2025, according to Politico.

“It should be no surprise to anyone that China is developing capabilities that would be viewed negatively by like-minded allies and partners,” Navy Adm. John Aquilino told reporters at the Halifax forum.

The U.S. Space Force is working to “figure out the type of satellite constellation that we need” to track other countries’ missiles, Thompson said.

“It’s a new challenge, but it’s not that we don’t have an answer to this challenge. We just have to understand it, fully design it, and fly it,” he said.

While Thompson noted that there is no timeline for when those satellites will be operational, he said that’s a changing process and “we’re evolving our approach and our timelines rapidly.”

A senior US General has sounded the alarm on Beijing’s recent hypersonic missile test, warning that China might be able to launch a surprise nuclear attack on America one day. China’s hypersonic advancemennts already overshadow the US. @MollyGambhir tells you more pic.twitter.com/2Fz1hIpnkq

— WION (@WIONews) November 18, 2021

The U.S. Space Force, the country’s newest branch of the armed forces, was created in 2019 under then-President Donald Trump.

Thompson, who was confirmed in his current position by the Senate in September 2020 after being nominated by Trump a month earlier, said although China can push forward with new weapons, red tape hobbles the U.S.

Are rival countries’ hypersonic weapons programs a major threat to the United States?

“The bureaucracy that we’ve built into our defense and acquisition enterprise, not just in space but in other areas, has slowed us down in many areas,” Thompson said.

“The fact that we have not needed to move quickly for a couple of decades — in the sense of a strategic competitor with these capabilities — has not driven us or required us to move quickly.”

U.S. ‘not as advanced’ as China and Russia on hypersonic tech, Space Force general warns

While the Pentagon has pushed the development of new hypersonic missiles, the Army isn’t slated to field its first missile until 2024.https://t.co/KaiH77unAN

— Tom Fitton (@TomFitton) November 21, 2021

Aquilino said China’s advance on hypersonic weapons is likely to be only one area where it outpaces the U.S.

“We should expect capabilities like that to show up, and I think the answer is our system has to be able to respond much more quickly,” he said.

Jack Davis is a freelance writer who joined The Western Journal in July 2015 and chronicled the campaign that saw President Donald Trump elected. Since then, he has written extensively for The Western Journal on the Trump administration as well as foreign policy and military issues.

Jack Davis is a freelance writer who joined The Western Journal in July 2015 and chronicled the campaign that saw President Donald Trump elected. Since then, he has written extensively for The Western Journal on the Trump administration as well as foreign policy and military issues.

Jack can be reached at [email protected]

Location

New York City

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English

Topics of Expertise

Politics, Foreign Policy, Military & Defense Issues

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