The American defense establishment has responded to the announcement of hypersonic weaponry newly deployed by the Russian Federation: We need more money.
As reported on Foreign Policy.com, Steven Walker, the director of the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) claimed that the US is not spending enough for the development of hypersonic weapons. Although Walker acknowledged the increase of budgeting for hypersonics research authorized by President Trump, he maintained that the facilities needed to do the testing are as yet underfunded.
In recent years military experts in the US have been aware of and pointing out the strides made by both Russia and China. Despite the announcement made by Russian President Vladimir Putin about the present deployment of such weapons in his address on March 1st, 2018, the military has been most concerned about China of late:
You look at number of facilities they’ve built to do hypersonics,” [Walker] said. “It surpasses the number we have in this country, and is quickly surpassing it by two- or three-[times]…”
China is making hypersonics a “national priority,” Walker said. “I think we need to do the same.”
DARPA has had a mediocre record in terms of hypersonic advances. Study on this matter goes back to at least the 1980’s with the Copper Canyon concept, which was a space vehicle that would take off and land like a regular airplane. Then-President Ronald Reagan heralded this project as “a new Orient Express” that could make Washington DC to Tokyo in two hours’ time. However, the project failed.
Recent developments in the news have featured tests of the X-51 Waverider, which was tested successfully, but with no news of further development thus far.
The Russian program was announced by President Putin in response to the aggressive moves made by the US and NATO over recent years as the alliance has been building and installing weapons that ring the borders of the Russian Federation. These moves, plus several years of sanctions and often bellicose rhetoric, moved the Russian leader to dedicate his country’s resources and talent to its defense.