Air Force Secretary Says We Are In A Missile Race With China

( – Is the U.S. in an arms race with China? Analysts have been debating the answer to this question since as far back as 1964, when the foreign nation held its first successful atomic weapon test. However, Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall isn’t nearly so uncertain; he recently told Reuters the answer is a definitive yes.

Secretary Kendall spoke with Reuters in an exclusive interview on November 30. He expressed concern over the U.S.’s ability to keep up with China’s advances in hypersonic missile tech during the exchange.

“It’s an arms race that has been going on for quite some time,” he explained. “The Chinese have been at it very aggressively.”

Secretary Kendall also said the foreign nation’s increased focus on hypersonic missile tech exacerbates pre-existing concerns. The secretary claims that, for the U.S., it is a matter of quality over quantity, so perfecting hypersonic rocket technology is what lies at the finish line of this race. China, however, seems more interested in sheer volume.

It’s important to note that hypersonic weapons aren’t technically new. The US-manufactured RTV-G-4 Bumper rocket, created in 1949, was actually the first such device to achieve hypersonic speeds. However, technology has come a long way since then; U.S. adversaries are racing to be the first to perfect it.

Hypersonic missiles travel at nearly 4000 miles per hour (Mach-5). Yet, they are exceptionally maneuverable, even when traveling at extremely high speeds, making defense strategies more challenging. Furthermore, the timeframe between launch and impact can be a matter of minutes; countries have very little time to respond.

Both Russia and China completed successful hypersonic weapons tests throughout 2021. Even North Korea, generally considered adversarial but lagging in technology, ran tests on what it calls a “detached hypersonic gliding warhead.”

The U.S.’s Navy Strategic Systems Programs (SSP) and the Army Hypersonic Program Office (AHPO) also engaged in three separate tests in October to gather information for future development. A statement from the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command released shortly afterward called the delivery of hypersonic missiles a “top priority” for the DoD.

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