NEWS AND ANALYSIS:
The Pentagon’s efforts to quickly build hypersonic missiles to compete with similar systems of US adversaries took another hit last week after Russia allegedly used a hypersonic missile in a bomb attack on Ukraine.
The Russian attack, if confirmed, would be the first use of an ultra-high-speed maneuvering weapon in combat and follows China’s test last summer of a unique hypersonic weapon orbiting the Earth before hitting a land target. Both deployments leave the U.S. military further behind in the race to develop offensive hypersonic weapons that can reach targets in 30 minutes or less.
Critics say the problem has been bureaucratic emphasis in the Pentagon on building defenses against hypersonic weapons rather than developing and launching missiles that can be used offensively.
Hypersonic missiles travel at speeds of more than 3,836 miles per hour. While ballistic missile warheads travel at hypersonic speeds, hypersonic missiles are also capable of maneuvering, making them difficult to counter.
Earlier this month Adm. Charles Richardchief of the US Strategic Command, said he has been requesting offensive hypersonic missiles since at least 2016 to deter both Beijing and Moscow.
“I will be ready to put online, the first day, any service makes it available, a hypersonic capacity,” CEO Richard told a congressional hearing on March 8. “I will use it for good use the first day a service makes it available for the defense of the nation.”
Moscow claimed on Saturday that a hypersonic missile was being used to destroy an underground weapons depot in southwestern Ukraine. A senior U.S. defense attorney told reporters that the Pentagon was not sure if the missile had been fired.
“It’s a bit of a head scraper, to be honest with you, because it’s not entirely clear why, if true, you should need a hypersonic missile fired from not so far away to hit a building, “said the official.
One theory is that the Russian military is running out of precision-guided missiles and felt the need to use the missile called Kinzhal – Russian for “dagger”.
“It may be that they are trying to send a message to the West, but also to Ukraine, and trying to gain some influence at the negotiating table,” the official said.
The operational use of a hypersonic missile in a conflict would be the first.
The Chinese conducted a hypersonic flight test in July and August of what is known as the “fractional orbital bombardment system” or FOBS. That weapon was described as an “all-azimuth” weapon capable of hitting targets from any angle, thereby frustrating warning sensors and missile defenses.
China’s orbiting nuclear or conventional missile also boasts unique capabilities, enabling the Chinese military to attack at any time and place with relative ease.
Current high-priority programs for the U.S. military include the Army’s long-range hypersonic weapon, the Air Force AGM-183 Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept.
Retired Navy Captain James Fanella former Pacific Fleet intelligence director, said that before the Trump administration, the dominant position of the U.S. government was that defense against hypersonic missiles should be a priority. Former President Trump advocated a shift to offensive hypersonic assets, but efforts were resisted by the bureaucracy.
“With billions of dollars at stake, the elite are within [Defense Department] in fact, the Commander-in-Chief fought and instead pushed their weight on a defensive umbrella instead of creating a credible offensive attacking capacity, ”said Captain Fanell.
Certain Pentagon officials and defense companies have been pushing for a global defense system against hypersonic, but “did nothing to help defend against a tactical attack,” Captain Fanell said.
“Even worse, they have not developed and implemented our own operational hypersonic weapons program,” he added. “Therefore, we do not have a deterrent ability to threaten to use our own hypersonic weapons against [Russian President Vladimir] Putin. ”
The Pentagon’s point man for hypersonic under the Trump administration was Michael Griffin, who oversaw efforts to build high-speed maneuvering missiles as Deputy Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering. Some critics say Mr Griffin was behind the preponderance of defense rather than attacks in the hypersonic program.
In remarks at a November conference, Mr Griffin stated that “we need a comprehensive layered defeat strategy for the Chinese and Russian attacks” in hypersonic.
Still, at the end of his tenure under the Trump administration, Mr. Griffin said the military was on track to produce two hypersonic missiles a month. “We need to increase it by a factor of 10,” he said in comments to the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies.
Biden promises not to change the Chinese system
President Biden told Chinese President Xi Jinping during a video summit last week that the United States will not try to change China’s communist system, according to Beijing’s reading of the meeting.
Biden reiterated that the United States is not seeking a new Cold War with China; it is not intended to change China’s system; the revitalization of its alliances is not directed at China; The United States does not support ‘Taiwan’s independence’; and it has no intentions of seeking a conflict with China, ”the foreign ministry said in a statement.
A White House spokeswoman for the National Security Council had no immediate comment.
Protecting the current ruling system is among the Chinese Communist Party’s main priorities since Mr Xi sought to revitalize so-called “Marxism-Leninism with Chinese characteristics” after he became president and chairman of the Communist Party in 2012.
The demand that the United States not seek to change the communist system was first presented Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman during a visit to China in the summer of 2021. At that meeting, Chinese officials presented her with a list of 16 demands and 10 specific issues of concern, which they said must be resolved to Beijing’s satisfaction before US-China relations can be improved.
A senior administration official said around the time of the Sherman visit that the Chinese demands were rejected. Nevertheless, several items on the list have subsequently been implemented, including the promise not to try to overthrow the communist system.
Other claims included closing the case of the Huawei Technologies director Meng Wanzhou, who was released from federal charges of fraud in September, and relaxing restrictions on Chinese officials working for state media. The curbs were loosened last year.
The promise from Mr. The bite of not working against the communist system was also outlined in the administration’s new Asia-Pacific Strategy report, released last month.
The report said “our goal is not to change China, but to shape the strategic environment in which it operates, to build a balance of influence in the world that is maximally beneficial to the United States, our allies and partners, and the interests and values we share. . ”
“This shows the complete cluelessness of the whole Biden approach [Chinese Communist Party] threat, ”said a senior Chinese Foreign Ministry official under the Trump administration, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
“It’s not whether we want to change China or not, it is the indisputable reality that China is already changing and destroying the United States in a fundamental way, from our industrial and economic base, beloved freedoms of expression in academia, Hollywood and the Internet, to democratic values. “Defense technology and public health. The Chinese Communist Party is systematically dismantling the critical tendons in America.”
Pacific chief highlights China’s threat
After months of relative silence, Adm. John C. Aquilinothe front-line leader of the Indo-Pacific Command, has begun speaking out to highlight the growing threat posed by China.
Adm. Aquilino gave a rare news interview on Sunday that criticized Chinese President Xi Jinping for what U.S. officials are saying is his failure to follow up on a 2015 pledge to the United States not to militarize reclaimed disputed islands in the South China Sea.
The four-star admiral said despite the promise that the Chinese military has placed fighter jets, anti-ship missiles, anti-aircraft missiles and laser and electronic blocking equipment on at least three islands. The weapons and equipment potentially threaten all nations operating on the international waterway.
“The function of these islands is to expand China’s offensive capabilities beyond their continental shores,” he told the Associated Press during a flight aboard a P-8 maritime patrol aircraft. PRC is the abbreviation for People’s Republic of China. “They can fly fighter jets, bombers plus all the offensive capabilities of missile systems. So that’s the threat that exists, that’s why it’s so worrying about the militarization of these islands.”
China’s state-affiliated Global Times said the islands and adjacent waters are Chinese territory – contrary to an international court ruling that Beijing’s claims to own 90% of the South China Sea are illegal.
The business quoted a Chinese official as saying that CEO Aquilino “is staging a political farce to gain attention and rebuild tensions in the region after the world has turned its eyes to Europe.”