While unveiling the flag for his new Space Force in the Oval Office in the White House, President Donald Trump has said the United States will beat out military rivals including Russia and China with “’super duper missile.”
“We have no choice, we have to do it with the adversaries we have out there. We have, I call it the super duper missile and I heard the other night [it’s] 17 times faster than what they have right now,” Trump said on Friday.
“That’s right,” said Trump’s defense secretary, Mark Esper, standing to his right.
“You take the fastest missile we have right now,” Trump said. “You heard Russia has five times and China’s working on five or six times, we have one 17 times and it’s just got the go-ahead.”
The US Defense Department said in March it had successfully tested an unarmed hypersonic missile, a weapon that could potentially overwhelm other missile defense systems.
According to the Pentagon, the test was conducted successfully in the US state of Hawaii, located in the Pacific Ocean.
The test missile flew along the upper atmosphere to a designated impact point at hypersonic speeds, which is over five times the speed of sound, the Pentagon said.
Trump, whose public rhetoric and withdrawal from key arms control treaties have fuelled fears of a new nuclear arms race, seemed to allude to new technology.
Hypersonic weapons can take missile and nuclear warfare to a new and more threatening level since they can travel much faster than current ballistic and cruise missiles, at different altitudes and with the maneuverability that makes them difficult to track and target with current missile defense systems.
Both Russia and China are developing similar military capabilities as they seek to field the technology and erode America’s military dominance.
In December, Russia declared it had placed into service their first Avangard hypersonic missile, making it the first country to claim an operable hypersonic weapon. China is also investing significantly in the development of hypersonic glide vehicles.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has claimed Russian Avangard missiles can “travel at up to 20 times the speed of sound, like a ‘meteorite’ or a ‘fireball,’” according Bloomberg.
“Not a single country possesses hypersonic weapons, let alone continental-range hypersonic weapons,” Putin reportedly told the Russian military in December. “They’re trying to catch up with us.”
Independent analysts have said that the test of hypersonic missiles by the US military threatens to accelerate an arms race between the US and Russia which would ultimately place the entire world in danger.