On Monday, the Pentagon said that the United States would spend around $1.3 billion to develop an advanced satellite system to track hypersonic missile threats. Furthermore, the Department of Defense announced two new pacts to put the tracking systems in orbit by 2025. The head of the Space Development Agency, Derek Tournear, said the deals would deliver twenty-eight satellites as the United States moves to significantly enhance and expand its capability to counter growing threats from China and Russia.
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Beijing and Moscow have been making advances in their development of hypersonic missiles, which are tough to detect and target because they move more in flight than other weapons (conventional weapons) that move in predictable paths. Tournear told Pentagon reporters that in 2021, Beijing tested what the United States expressed was a hypersonic missile that is exceptionally maneuverable.
What are Hypersonic Weapons
Congress provides additional funding for the program in response to concerns in the Indo-Pacific region, in response to Chinese growing progressing military development. Hypersonic weapons are projectiles and missiles that can travel five and twenty-five times the speed of sound – around one to five miles per second. On the other hand, below such speeds, weapons are characterized as supersonic and subsonic. Currently, three are three types of hypersonic weapons:
- Missiles and aircraft which use air-breathing engines like scramjets to attain high speeds
- Hypersonic glide vehicle – boost-glide missiles fall through the atmosphere at high speeds after a preliminary launch phase.
- And the last one is guns that fire hypervelocity projectiles, which developed with novel or traditional technologies
Tournear said that the United States hadn’t flown satellites designed to detect and go after maneuverable hypersonic weapons. At present, the country has limited potential to do that tracking aspect. Additionally, the new satellites will allow the world power to track the launch, follow the hypersonic missile as it changes its way, assess where it is going, and provide statistics to forces who can launch interceptors.
Earlier this year, Australia, Britain, and the U.S. announced they would collaborate to develop hypersonic missiles. The announcement from the officials came amid rising concerns about the escalating military aggression of China in the Pacific. Last year in October, General Mark Milley, the United States chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, confirmed that Beijing conducted a hypersonic weapon test. He called it a concerning and significant event for world powers.