US to Work on Hypersonic Weapons With Allies

US to Work on Hypersonic Weapons With Allies

( – In October 2021, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley confirmed China tested hypersonic weapons systems. On April 5, the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom announced they would be joining forces through the AUKUS security alliance to work on hypersonic missiles too. The statement also detailed the extent of their joint commitment to this issue. The mission will include not only hypersonic missiles, but counter missiles, electronic warfare, and information sharing as well.

Concerns in the East

Milley stated the hypersonic tests by China were “very concerning” and significant. In addition, Russia claims they have a system that can travel 27 times the speed the sound, called the Avangard system. Hypersonic missiles can generally travel more than five times the speed of sound – Mach 5, or above. Given the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the fact that the country already used hypersonic missiles to attack, the concern continues to grow in that part of the world.

US History with Hypersonics

In 2017, the US was working on hypersonic missiles that had the capacity to travel 6,000 miles per hour, virtually undetected. According to Popular Mechanics, the United States and Australia conducted a joint missile test that same year. Since then, the US has continued to develop the technology, and in March of this year, conducted a successful test of the weapon in secret. The test happened days after Russia used a similar weapon in Ukraine.

Lockheed Martin developed the Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept (HAWC) used in the test, which was launched from a B-52 bomber off the coast of California.

AUKUS and Weapons Development

President Joe Biden, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson formed the Indo-Pacific alliance (AUKUS) in mid-September 2021. The pact included an agreement that the US and the UK would help Australia get nuclear-powered submarines – thwarting their previous deal with France. The trio has now expanded the agreement to include work on hypersonic missiles and developing systems to protect themselves against an attack of the same. The move will likely deepen the relationship between the three countries as they cooperate together, sharing this powerful technological advance.

The submitted Pentagon budget for 2023 includes $4.7 billion toward the research and development of hypersonic weapons. The plan includes a hypersonic missile battery, intended to field in 2023, a sea-launched missile two years later, and an air-based cruise missile by the year 2027. According to the agreement, any advances will be shared with the United Kingdom and Australia, so the three can stay in sync and hopefully ahead of China and Russia.

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