After China’s successful hypersonic missile test, a top official from the Trump-created Space Force is warning the U.S. has “catching up to do very quickly.”
“We’re not as advanced as the Chinese or the Russians in terms of hypersonic programs,” Gen. David Thompson, vice chief of Space Force operations, told the Halifax International Security Forum, Politico reported.
The missiles are not only long range, able to circumvent the globe, but they fly at least five times the speed of sound and are able to change direction at high speeds, making them difficult to defend against, according to the report.
But the Space Force is planning to “figure out the type of satellite constellation that we need,” Thompson told Politico.
“It’s a new challenge, but it’s not that we don’t have an answer to this challenge,” he continued. “We just have to understand it, fully design it, and fly it.”
The U.S. remains years away from being able to wield a hypersonic missile. The Army is currently planning to have one in 2024, while the Navy plans to have one on a destroyer in 2025 and a submarine in 2028, according to the report.
“The bureaucracy that we’ve built into our defense and acquisition enterprise, not just in space but in other areas, has slowed us down in many areas,” Thompson told Politico. “The fact that we have not needed to move quickly for a couple of decades — in the sense of a strategic competitor with these capabilities — has not driven us or required us to move quickly.”
The Missile Defense Agency has given contracts to Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman to develop systems capable of destroying a deployed hypersonic missile, a hypersonic Glide Phase Interceptor system that would be able to take out the missile when it is gliding in the upper atmosphere in space, Politico reported.