At the hearing yesterday, Hill stressed that when he talked about hypersonic weapons, he was talking about a broad category that included missiles tipped with highly-maneuverable unpowered boost-glide vehicles, very-fast-flying air-breathing cruise missiles, and advanced ground-based and air-launched ballistic missiles, which reach extremely high velocities in their terminal phase of flight.
“Dog-leg maneuvers just right off the bat, maneuvering in space, what I call range-extensions,” Hill told the members of the House Armed Services Committee in terms of developments just in advanced ballistic missile performance capabilities. “They’re all hypersonic when they come back into the atmosphere.”
“What used to be a very predictable ballistic profile, that has now changed and it’s a challenge to the sensor architecture,” he continued. “It’s very important that we continue to invest in the sensor capacity that we have against ballistic, hypersonic, and cruise [missiles], because they are converging and they’re coming at us across that whole integrated air and missile defense domain.”
“I remain concerned about my ability to defend the homeland as our competitors continue to develop capabilities to hold our homeland at risk, from all vectors, and in all domains,” General VanHerck had said in his opening remarks at the hearing, where he also raised concerns about non-kinetic threats, such as cyber attacks.
The potential difficulty in detecting Russian Yasen and Yasen-M class guided missiles submarines, as well as other increasingly quiet designs that Russia and China are developing, combined with the ever-more-advanced weapons they can carry, look to only be further complicating this overall threat picture. As a result, the situation is increasingly prompting warnings from those with the best available information that the America’s advantage in key strategic areas is eroding.
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