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Pentagon boosts hypersonics investments to counter long-range precision fires from China & Russia: Defense Sec

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The Pentagon is increasing investments into hypersonic weapons to counter precision long-range fires and other a-symmetric capabilities coming from China and Russia, according to the secretary of defense.

US Defense Secretary Mark Esper

“As our competitors develop long-range fires to inhibit our freedom of maneuver, we are increasing our investments in hypersonics over the next five years” — Secretary of Defense Mark Esper

Mark Esper, US Secretary of Defense and member of the Council on Foreign Relations, told members of the AUSA community today that China and Russia were chipping away at America’s lead in military technology and that the Pentagon was increasing its investments into hypersonics.

“Our near-peer rivals China and Russia seek to erode our long-standing advantages through cutting-edge military innovation, such as precision long-range fires, anti-access area denial systems, and other a-symmetric capabilities designed to counter our strengths,” said Esper.

The secretary of defense also highlighted that hypersonic weapons were at the top of the army’s six modernization priorities.

“As our competitors develop long-range fires to inhibit our freedom of maneuver, we are increasing our investments in hypersonics over the next five years, so we can ramp-up testing and deliver these capabilities to the war fighter as quickly as possible,” said Esper.

“In March, the army and navy reached an important milestone by jointly executing the successful test of a hypersonic glide body.

“We aim to integrate this technology into an army battery by 2023,” he added.

“Our near-peer rivals China and Russia seek to erode our long-standing advantages through cutting-edge military innovation, such as precision long-range fires, anti-access area denial systems, and other a-symmetric capabilities designed to counter our strengths” — Secretary of Defense Mark Esper

Long-Range Precision Fires, according to the US Army website, “provide the Army with long-range and deep-strike capability,” and they “must be able to penetrate through the enemy force’s defensive capabilities within the operational environments by synchronizing effects across multiple domains.”

According to a 2013 report from RAND:

  • Anti-access challenges prevent or degrade the ability to enter an operational area. These challenges can be geographic, military, or diplomatic.
  • Area denial (AD) refers to threats to forces within the operational area. As they relate to US ground forces (the Army and Marine Corps), AD threats are characterized by the opponent’s ability to obstruct the actions of US forces once they have deployed.

Today, the secretary of defense repeated the same line from a previous speech he gave a month ago about how China and Russia had weaponized space with directed energy weapons and killer satellites in an effort to erode America’s military advantage.

“Moscow and Beijing […] have weaponized space through killer satellites, directed energy weapons” — Secretary of Defense Mark Esper

And earlier this month, the Pentagon’s Space Development Agency (SDA) awarded two contracts to SpaceX and L3Harris Technologies totaling more than $342 million to deploy satellites for detecting and tracking hypersonic and ballistic missiles from space.

‘Beijing & Moscow have weaponized space through killer satellites, directed energy weapons’: Defense Sec

Pentagon beefs-up hypersonic missile tracking from space, awards $342M in contracts

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Tim Hinchliffe
Tim Hinchliffe is the editor of The Sociable. His passions include writing about how technology impacts society and the parallels between Artificial Intelligence and Mythology. Previously, he was a reporter for the Ghanaian Chronicle in West Africa and an editor at Colombia Reports in South America. tim@sociable.co