Russia and China Deploy Hypersonic Weapons and the US Spends Billions to Catch Up

The US is increasing hypersonic weapon investment in 2020 to $2.6 billion.

The UK has a $12 million contract with Rolls-Royce to develop high-Mach aircraft propulsion systems.

Russia has the Avangard and the 3M22 Tsirkon (aka Zircon)—and has reportedly fielded the Kh-47M2 Kinzhal (“Dagger”), a maneuvering air-launched ballistic missile. The US believes the Avangard will not be operational until 2020.

Kinzhal has a top speed of mach 10.
Avangard has a top speed of mach 20.

China has successfully tested the DF-17, a medium-range ballistic missile specifically designed to launch HGVs. U.S. intelligence analysts think the DF-17 has a range of approximately 1,000 to 1,500 miles.

China has tested the DF-41 intercontinental ballistic missile, which could be modified to carry a conventional or nuclear HGV (Hypersonic Glide Vehicle).

China has tested the DF-ZF HGV (aka WU-14) at least nine times since 2014. It has a range of about 1,200 miles and should be very maneuverable. It could be operational as early as 2020.

China’s Starry Sky-2 is a waverider that uses powered flight after launch and derives lift from its own shockwaves. CAAA claims the vehicle reached top speeds of Mach 6 and executed a series of in-flight maneuvers before landing. The Starry Sky-2 could be operational by 2025.

USD R&E Michael Griffin has stated that the United States will not have a defensive capability against hypersonic weapons until the mid to late 2020s.