Pentagon studies ways to counter hypersonic missile threat from China, Russia

The Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency has launched a study of innovative ways to counter advanced missile threats such as ultra-high-speed maneuvering hypersonic missiles.

The agency recently released a request for information that will seek to identify weapon concepts for defense against future advanced threats such as hypersonics, he said. The responses are due Friday and will be used to develop an “analysis of alternatives” planned for 2017.

Hypersonic missiles are under rapid development in China and Russia as a way to penetrate advanced air and missile defenses such as those developed by the Army and Navy. A major problem for current U.S. missile defenses is that all were designed from the ground up to target missiles with predictable and unchanging trajectories.

China’s DF-ZF hypersonic glide vehicle has been tested at least seven times, and Russia’s Yu-71 hypersonic strike weapon also has been tested several times. The gliders are launched atop ballistic missiles and travel along the edge of the atmosphere at speeds from Mach 5 to Mach 10 — 3,800 to 7,600 miles per hour.

The maneuvering strike vehicles can defeat all current U.S. missile defenses, including ground-based interceptors in California and Alaska, sea-based Aegis anti-missile systems and the land-based Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD.

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