US still leads hypersonic weapon development

The United States remains top dog in developing hypersonic weapons and is pouring money into a series of multimillion dollar projects despite apparently huge recent strides made by China and Russia.

Hypersonic research with the goal of building hypersonic missiles that travel between Mach 5 (6,000 km/h) to Mach 20 (25,000 km/h). Funding for hypersonic research jumped 50 percent in the Department of Defense budget request for 2017. The U.S. Air Force plans to test a hypersonic missile by 2020.

The Pentagon is funding the Lockheed Martin Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle 2 (HTV-2) program; the Raytheon Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept (HAWC) and the Raytheon/Lockheed Tactical Boost Glide (TBG) program.

The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) gave Raytheon $20 million and Lockheed $24 million for TBG. Raytheon is also investing tens of millions of its own dollars into hypersonic research.

Raytheon is working on two kinds of hypersonic missiles. One is a boost glide system that rides a rocket into space, then reenters the atmosphere and glides to its target at up to Mach 18 (22,500 km/h). The other is an air breathing missile that zooms forward at Mach 10 path (12,000 km/h).

These programs are part of the overarching Prompt Global Strike (PGS) program to develop a system that can deliver a precision-guided conventional weapon airstrike anywhere in the world within one hour.

SOURCES China Topix