Editor’s Notes: The Opaque Hypersonics Arms RaceJuly 13, 2018
For decades, the United States didn’t show a sense of urgency for developing missiles and aircraft that could reach hypersonic speeds — defined as Mach 5 and higher. But no longer. The U.S. military’s research-and-development community is going full bore on hypersonics, it’s considered a top R&D priority and contracts to the defense industry are flowing.
Thanks for the kick in the pants, Vladimir Putin! In March, the Russian president claimed to have developed a weapon that could reach Mach 10 and fly 2,000 miles.
There are two methods of reaching hypersonic speeds and Putin said during his annual televised call-in show June 8 that Russia had mastered them both. A hypersonic boost-glide vehicle called the Avangard — which he said was “absolutely invulnerable for any missile defense system” — is in the process of industrial production with plans to deliver it to the military in 2019.