Top U.S. officials are warning that some of the first-strike weapons that America’s enemies have are more advanced than the weapons that the U.S. has and that urgent action is needed to address the issue.
The warnings come after communist “China’s hypersonic weapon test in July included a technological advance that enabled it to fire a missile as it approached its target travelling at least five times the speed of sound — a capability no country has previously demonstrated,” The Financial Times reported. “Pentagon scientists were caught off guard by the advance, which allowed the hypersonic glide vehicle, a manoeuvrable spacecraft that can carry a nuclear warhead, to fire a separate missile mid-flight in the atmosphere over the South China Sea, according to people familiar with the intelligence.”
Gen. David Thompson, vice chief of space operations, admitted over the weekend that “we’re not as advanced as the Chinese or the Russians in terms of hypersonic programs,” adding that the U.S. has a lot of “catching up to do very quickly” because “the Chinese have had an incredibly aggressive hypersonic program for [the last] several years.”
“While the Pentagon has pushed the development of new hypersonic missiles, the Army isn’t slated to field its first missile until 2024,” Politico reported. “The Navy is aiming to put its own version of the missile on a destroyer in 2025 and on Virginia-class submarines in 2028.”
Experts at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) are not sure how China managed to fire a missile off the vehicle while it was moving at hypersonic speeds. Experts say that China is significantly more advanced than the U.S. or Russia when it comes to hypersonic technology.
“Some Pentagon experts believe the projectile was an air-to-air missile,” the Financial Times added. “Others think it was a countermeasure to destroy missile defense systems so that they could not shoot down the hypersonic weapon during wartime.”
General John Hyten, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the No. 2 person in the U.S. military, said that the weapons that China was developing “look like a first-use weapon. That’s what those weapons look like to me.”
CBS News reported:
For decades, the nuclear balance between the U.S. and Russia has depended on neither side having the capability to launch a successful first strike. If China is now trying to develop a first-strike capability, that balance would be in jeopardy. …
China’s round-the-world hypersonic test took place on July 27 and has been compared to the moment in 1957 during the arms race with the Soviet Union when Moscow launched the Sputnik satellite, becoming the first nation into space and catching the U.S. by surprise.
Asked if he would compare the Chinese test to Sputnik, Hyten replied that “from a technology perspective, it’s pretty impressive. . . But Sputnik created a sense of urgency in the United States. . . The test on July 27 did not create that sense of urgency. I think it probably should create a sense of urgency.”
Former Director of National Intelligence (DNI) John Ratcliffe warned earlier this year that the Biden administration was in for a shock once they were finally brought up to speed on the advancements that the Chinese military has made in recent years.
Ratcliffe said that “China has closed the gap” in certain areas which he could not reveal because “it poses a national security threat to acknowledge that, but there are places where China’s frankly doing a better job, and it’s further down the curve on some technology issues than we are, and that’s never been the case before.”