Technology to Meet Hypersonic Threats Requires Sustained Funding, National Sense of Urgency

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July 17, 2017 | Originally published by Date Line: July 17 on

As China and Russia continue to demonstrate rapid progress in development of hypersonic strike weapons, the U.S.’s largest guided-missile company says technology to counter the threat is already achievable but that fielding a system requires sustained funding and a national sense of urgency.

“We are at a tipping point in hypersonics. It is the number one game changer today, and it’s a huge discriminator,” says Tom Bussing, vice president of Raytheon’s Advanced Missile Systems. Commenting to ShowNews on the eve of the Paris Air Show, Bussing says the relatively sudden rise of hypersonic strike capability in China and Russia “is a remarkable thing that has occurred, and it has fundamentally changed the nature of warfare.”

By developing a combination of boost-glide and air-breathing hypersonic weapons that can effectively defeat today’s strategic air and space defense systems, he says, China and Russia’s move is “destroying the triad-based” deterrence balance of power. The “triad” is the ability to deliver strategic nuclear weapons via land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), bombers, and submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs). The triple delivery method increases deterrence by ensuring the survival of sufficient forces to launch a second strike.

…Raytheon is pouring its own resources into hypersonic weapons development as part of a broader portfolio-wide technology investment. Over the past four years US$500 million has been spent on a variety of technologies ranging from propulsion and sensor to advanced processors.

“Of that investment, a significant fraction is being applied to hypersonics,” says Bussing. “But the entire portfolio is playing in future hypersonic weapons as well as backward playing into existing systems.”

U.S. Army Long Range Precision Fires Program