Race for Hypersonic Supremacy: United States Struggles to Secure Third Place. can this be true? 

Race for Hypersonic Supremacy

In hypersonic weaponry, ensuring the third position for the United States proves to be a daunting task, fraught with uncertainty and complexity. 

At the helm of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the commander of Iran’s Aerospace Forces recently declared the impending launch of a hypersonic missile. Currently undergoing rigorous testing, this missile exhibits the extraordinary capability of traversing the atmosphere at speeds 12-15 times that of sound, coupled with exceptional maneuverability. 

Iran had initially proclaimed its mastery of hypersonic ballistic missile technology towards the end of the previous year, which was met with skepticism from relevant U.S. agencies. However, with the official announcement from the Iranian Space Force, the truth surrounding this matter shall soon be unveiled.

The United States skepticism regarding the veracity of these events is well-founded, considering the substantial setbacks it has encountered in the hypersonic field. Russia’s “Dagger” hypersonic missile has significantly impacted the Ukrainian conflict, demonstrating outstanding performance.

 The effectiveness of the United States advanced “Patriot” air defense system in intercepting the “Dagger” missile has been proven to be alarmingly low, necessitating a considerable number of missiles to intercept just one.

 Not to mention China’s formidable array of hypersonic missiles, including the gliding warheads-equipped Dongfeng-17, Dongfeng 12D, Dongfeng 26, and Dongfeng 27, which pose a nightmarish scenario for U.S. aircraft carriers.

Race for Hypersonic Supremacy

A closer examination of the United States reveals that the Army, Air Force, and Navy each have their individual hypersonic weapons initiatives. The Air Force’s X-51A hypersonic missile underwent a total of four tests, with a success rate of two out of four. However, the project was ultimately terminated due to its imperfect technology, costing a staggering $928 million.

 Similarly, the Air Force’s AGM-183A air-launched hypersonic missile faced failure in five out of seven tests, leaving its current project teetering on the verge of collapse. The Navy’s CPS missile program fared even worse, experiencing complete failure in two instances.

 On the contrary, the Army’s hypersonic weapons are projected to achieve limited deployment by 2025, albeit with considerably inferior technology compared to China and Russia.

To everyone’s surprise, the United States finds itself uncertain of its standing as the third power in the realm of hypersonic weapons. Iran emerges as an unexpected contender, intercepting the U.S. on its path and making significant strides in this high-tech domain.

 Americans now grapple with bewilderment, realizing they cannot afford to underestimate any adversary. Iran possesses formidable military technology, evident in its capture of the advanced RQ-170 UAV from the United States through electronic warfare. Furthermore, its ability to export weaponry to Russia underscores its noteworthy strength, demanding utmost respect.

Given the United States ambition to secure a leading position across all domains, witnessing China, Russia, and Iran surpassing it in hypersonic weapons raises concerns. 

One would expect the U.S. to invest substantial efforts into tackling this technology head-on. However, the Americans have taken a surprising approach this time. Congress, harboring doubts about the hypersonic missile program, argues that contracting companies have resorted to cutting corners in a race to build prototype missiles for testing. 

Consequently, the 2024 defense budget does not allocate any funds for procuring hypersonic missiles, exacerbating the already challenging research and development process.

The U.S. Congress holds another reason for its reluctance to support hypersonic missile development: the belief that the cost of these missiles outweighs the benefits provided by their maneuverable warheads, which ordinary ballistic missiles can equal. 

This perspective stems from the funding allocated to the U.S. hypersonic weapons program, revealing that the acquisition cost for hypersonic missiles surpasses that of conventional ballistic missiles by approximately $4.5 billion for the same quantity of 300 missiles.

The Russia-Ukraine conflict has shed light on two vital components of future warfare: hypersonic weapons and drones. Regardless of the veracity of Iran’s hypersonic weapons development news, the United States cannot evade the predicament it faces in this domain.

Failing to exert maximum effort may result in the loss of its position as the third power in this field, a prospect that should not be taken lightly.