Worried at Russia and China’s technological edge, the US aims to have a hypersonic weapon by 2025, the US Navy said in a report. A fortnight later, Vladimir Putin was watching the test launch of Russia’s newest hypersonic missile.
The state-of-the-art Avangard hypersonic glider was successfully tested December 26. It performed in-flight vertical and horizontal maneuvers and hit its intended target, according to the Defense Ministry. The actual speed of the missile, which will enter service in 2019, can reach a whopping 30,000km/h.
The test launch was observed by the Russian President Vladimir Putin, who labelled it “a big event for the armed forces, and probably for the entire country.”
Merely a week before the Avangard test, US Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson released a plan dubbed “A design for maintaining maritime superiority. Version 2.0.” One of the Pentagon’s top priorities for the coming years turned out to be none other than to “develop and field an offensive hypersonic weapon by 2025.”
The Pentagon boldly accused Russia and China of seeking to “accumulate power at America’s expense” by deploying “all elements of their national power to achieve their global ambitions.”
Admitting to having “no existing countermeasures” against such weapons, the US has long been nurturing plans to boost its own hypersonic strike and deterrence capabilities. In April the Air Force awarded a contract to Lockheed Martin to develop a hypersonic weapon prototype, while, this month, DARPA announced it is seeking “new designs” and materials to make sure prospective hypersonic vehicles do not burn up in the atmosphere.
Another US project, dubbed ‘Glide Breaker,’ to develop an interceptor capable of neutralizing incoming hypersonic gliders, has also reportedly been in the works at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.
The trio of Russia, China and the US are considered the nations that have advanced to possess hypersonic technologies and, with the successful test of Avangard, Moscow seems to have claimed the lead in the tightly-packed race.