US Tests Hypersonic Missiles Amid Concerns of Falling Behind Russia, China

The United States successfully tested a pair of hypersonic missiles. The announcement comes amid growing concerns that the U.S. is falling behind Russia and China, both of whom have had more success developing their own hypersonic weapons. 

The U.S. Air Force confirmed it successfully tested the two Lockheed Martin Corp hypersonic missiles. 

The Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW) booster was launched off the California coast this week. It is a boost-glide system that uses a rocket to accelerate a missile to hypersonic speeds, before releasing a hypersonic glider that coasts at the target at high speeds of more than Mach 5.

Lockheed said that the second successful test demonstrates the ability of the missile to reach and withstand operational hypersonic speeds, collect crucial data for further flight tests, and validate safe separation from the aircraft. 

The tests show progress within America’s hypersonic weapons development efforts. Testing the missiles has been beleaguered by failed tests, mounting questions over cost, and growing concerns that the U.S. is falling behind what is turning into a superpower arms race. 

Developing hypersonic weapons has been a key priority for the Pentagon, especially amid competition with Russia and China. The program’s troubled testing history saw three consecutive test failures before one successful test in May. 

The Pentagon’s increased emphasis on hypersonic weapons has come due to lawmakers’ concern of America falling behind. 

Last year China successfully tested its own hypersonic weapon. It orbited the globe before hitting its target. And even more recently, Russia used hypersonic weapons in war. This is a first for the world. It launched its Islander and Kinzhal missiles at Ukraine. 

The U.S. is now trying to catch up to Russia and China. A hypersonic weapon travels through the upper atmosphere at a speed five times faster than the speed of sound. 

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