A hypersonic weapon travels at Mach 5 or higher, which is at least five times faster than the speed of sound or about one mile per second.
In March, Russian President Vladimir Putin debuted new nuclear and hypersonic weapons, which he described as “invincible” during a state of the nation address. The weapons included a nuclear-powered cruise missile, a nuclear-powered underwater drone and a new hypersonic missile.
What’s more, in August, China announced its first successful testing of a hypersonic aircraft, a feat the U.S. has yet to accomplish.
“We are not the people who choose to weaponize space, but if we are challenged we will respond,” Michael Griffin, the Pentagon’s top engineer, said earlier this year at the Space and Missile Defense Symposium in Huntsville, Alabama. “The Defense Department is today working on a means to defend our existing capabilities, and we will be working on methods to project our national power onto our adversaries.”
Read more: Pentagon’s top engineer blames Russia, China for militarizing space as Space Force takes shape
Griffin, a former NASA administrator, explained that Russia’s and China’s pursuit of hypersonics, a kind of weapon the U.S. currently cannot defend against, has prompted the Pentagon to accelerate its development of space-based systems.
source : CNBC