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Russia and China Already Have Hypersonic Advantage over America

Jan. 11. 2019 (EIRNS)—The Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies, the think-tank of the U.S. Air Force Association, produced a paper in 2016, “Hypersonic Weapons And U.S. National Security: A 21st Century Breakthrough,” that concludes that hypersonic weapons would afford the U.S. with unprecedented rapid reach, global target access, a “fourth dimension effect” by effectively shrinking a foe’s decision-making window and a complete rendering of existing air defenses to be obsolete.

The problem with this statement, writes Air Force Maj. Gen. Howard “Dallas” Thompson (ret.), a former chief of staff of NORAD and U.S. Northern Command, is what it doesn’t say. Russia and China are so far ahead of the U.S. on the development and deployment of hypersonic weapons that they’ve already achieved that “fourth dimension effect” against the United States.

He states, in an op-ed published yesterday in The Hill, the recent successful test of the Russian Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle (HGV) and reports that the Chinese “have been even more aggressive in their pursuit of hypersonic weapons,” while the U.S. has no such capability. “The stark reality is that our current missile defense systems, as well as our operational mindset, are simply incapable versus this threat,” he writes.

“What many in Congress may not understand is that HGVs are specifically designed to exploit gaps and seams within our current missile defense structure,” Thompson continues.

“The Missile Defense Agency’s (MDA) array of satellite sensors, sea-borne and terrestrial radars, and ground-based interceptors are designed against a singular threat—an incoming ballistic missile launched from North Korea or perhaps Iran. While a ballistic flight path is relatively predictable, an HGV flies a completely unpredictable path, with the energy to aggressively maneuver throughout flight. This renders point-defense systems, such as Patriot and THAAD, ineffective.”

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