Hypersonic Arms Race: US Struggles to Keep Up with China's Advancements

According to a recent House Armed Services Committee session, the Pentagon admits that the United States continues to lag behind China in developing hypersonic missiles and the ability to defend against them.

Pentagon confirms the disadvantage of hypersonic technology.

According to a secret Pentagon report, China has successfully tested a hypersonic missile that can reach beyond the islands of Japan and Guam, where American soldiers are stationed and have a good chance of sneaking past American anti-missile systems.

The United States has spent billions of dollars on its defense budget but continues to lag behind in developing cutting-edge weaponry. This situation raises concern about the possible performance of the US in a war in the Pacific.

Admiral John Aquilino, head of the US Indo-Pacific Command, admitted the disadvantage in hypersonic weapons and defense systems, saying progress “must go faster.”

China and its growing hypersonic power

A hypersonic aircraft or missile is one that can travel at a speed of more than five times the speed of sound. The rapid development of China’s hypersonic technology has made headlines worldwide in recent years.

Hypersonic glide vehicles (HGVs), hypersonic cruise missiles, and other related technologies are all part of China’s hypersonic program. In 2018, China reportedly tested a hypersonic missile that achieved speeds of Mach 6, or six times the speed of sound, marking a major milestone in the country’s hypersonic program.

Hypersonic technology developed in China could be used for both military and civilian purposes. The speed and pinpoint accuracy with which hypersonic missiles can strike their targets make them a formidable military asset. The development of supersonic transportation systems is one example of civilian use of hypersonic technology.

China’s push to modernize its military and increase its technological might includes the development of hypersonic technology. The “Made in China 2025” plan calls for substantial investments in R&D across a variety of fields, including but not limited to artificial intelligence, quantum computing, and space technology.

Other countries, including the United States, are worried about China’s rising hypersonic capability. The United States has also made hypersonic investments, although China’s development in this field has been viewed as a possible challenge to the military superiority of the United States. According to some analysts, hypersonic technology may set off a new arms race between China and the United States.

Finally, China’s hypersonic rise might mark an important step forward in military aerospace. Some countries, most notably the United States, are worried that China’s hypersonic program success could spark a new weapons race. 

Although initially developed for military purposes, hypersonic technology may also be used in the civilian sector; China’s advancements in this area may eventually contribute to creating more rapid and reliable transportation networks.

The leaks are not the first warning about China’s hypersonic power, but they do confirm that the US has fallen behind on this technology. In March, the Air Force reported that a US hypersonic weapon test was “unsuccessful.”

Although money is now being allocated to the development of hypersonic technology, Representative Adam Smith pointed out that previous administrations had delayed such financing.

Officials from the Department of Defence refused to comment on whether China has surpassed the United States in the hypersonic race, claiming they could only discuss the matter in a classified briefing.

The capability of US aircraft carriers in doubt

The Chinese hypersonic system could nullify the ability of a US aircraft carrier to engage in combat in the Pacific for fear of being sunk, raising uncertainty as to whether they could help fend off a Chinese invasion of Taiwan.

Rep. Matt Gaetz questioned the wisdom of having built US aircraft carriers for the past 30 years that may never see combat because of their inability to defend against the Chinese hypersonic threat.

Consequences and responsibilities

Gaetz questioned whether more people, such as the generals, admirals, and specialists who have testified before committees and the Senate for decades, should be held accountable for the condition of hypersonic technology in the United States.