western countries trumpet on china trial high hypersonic weapons chinese military army

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China's recent test of a new ultra-high speed strike vehicle highlights growing concerns that Chinese military advances will overtake those of the United States in as few as five years, a senior Pentagon official told Congress Tuesday.
Frank Kendall, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology, and logistics, said during a House Armed Services Committee hearing that he is concerned by large-scale cuts in U.S. defense spending that are undermining efforts to maintain U.S. military superiority.
"On hypersonics, this is a good example of an area of technology that is going to move forward whether we invest in it or not," Kendall told a hearing on the United States shift toward Asia. "China is doing work in this area."
The Pentagon is investing some resources in two forms of hypersonic arms: a ballistic missile boost glide vehicle and a jet powered, atmospheric cruise missile, he said.
Kendall said the threat of such hypersonic vehicles to the United States is that they are difficult for missile defenses to counter. The vehicles travel and maneuver while flying at speeds of up to Mach 10 or 7,680 miles an hour.
The comments followed questioning from Rep. Trent Franks (R., Ariz.), who said he shares the concerns about the Chinese hypersonic glide vehicle development and testing.
The experimental weapon is a new strategic strike capability China's military is developing that is designed to defeat U.S. missile defenses. China could use the vehicle for both nuclear and conventional precision strikes on targets, including aircraft carriers at sea.
U.S. officials said that, while the glide vehicle test was not an intelligence surprise, it showed China is moving much more rapidly than in the past in efforts to research, develop, and test advanced weaponry.
Adm. Samuel Locklear, commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, noted that the hypersonic test demonstrated China's ability to move quicker than the United States in developing some advanced arms.
"The Chinese, as other nations are, are pursuing hypersonic technologies," Locklear said last week at the Pentagon. "This is just one of many, you know, highly technical militarized systems that whether the Chinese are developing them, or we're developing them, or Europeans are developing, that will continue to complicate the security environment with high-technology systems."
Committee Chairman Rep. Buck McKeon (R., Calif.), along with subcommittee chairmen Reps. Randy Forbes (R., Va.) and Mike Rogers (R., Mich.), described the hypersonic test in a statement as the Chinese military "leaping ahead of us" in arms development.
"The Asia Pacific is fast becoming a powder keg," the lawmakers said. "Allowing nations that do not share our respect for free and open avenues of commerce to gain a strategic advantage over the United States and her allies only brings us closer to lighting the fuse."
Vice Adm. Frank Pandolfe, director of strategic plans and policy for the Joint Staff, said during the hearing that he would only discuss the Chinese hypersonic test in a closed-door hearing.
Earlier, Kendall said the Pentagon is facing numerous challenges to the U.S. military's technological superiority, including in Asia, as part of a new policy designed to prevent China and other nations from blocking U.S. access to the region.
"Anti-access/area denial capabilities that concern us cover a range of conventional capabilities," Kendall said. "In the case of China in particular, for example, they include space control investments; offensive cyber capabilities; conventional ballistic and cruise missiles with precision seekers designed to attack both fixed land installations and surface ships, including aircraft carriers; air-to-air capabilities, including fifth-generation fighters; long-range missiles with advanced technology seekers; and electronic warfare systems."
At the same time, the U.S. military is being cut sharply, undermining both high-technology weapons development

Last year, the Pentagon spent around $65 million on hypersonic weapons research and development in its Prompt Global Strike program. The figure included a cut of $66 million from earlier proposed spending. Another $45 million was allocated to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency for hypersonic work.
"And military leaders are left with no choice but to cut end strength, readiness and capabilities," he said of the future. "And that has consequences for our security and military commitments in Pacom and across the globe, unless we adequately resource defense."

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