The United States and China are immersed in “an arms race” to develop the most lethal hypersonic weapons , said Frank Kendall, secretary of the US Air Force, on Tuesday. 

“There is an arms race, not necessarily to increase the number, but to increase the quality,” he explained  in an interview with Reuters. “It is a race that has been going on for quite some time. The Chinese have been very aggressively engaged in it,” he added.

The senior Pentagon official said that by concentrating its funds on Iraq and Afghanistan, the US military left hypersonic weapons out of the central focus. “This does not mean that we have not done anything, but not enough, ” he stressed.

He also said that as the U.S. Department of Defense enters the 2023 annual budget cycle, it hopes to divert funds by decommissioning older and more expensive to maintain systems in favor of newer ones, including hypersonic development programs.

“I love the A-10. The C-130 is a great aircraft, which has been very capable and very effective for many missions. The MQ-9s have been very effective in counterterrorism and so forth. They are still useful, but none of them. one of these things scares China, “he said, referring to a more than 40-year-old fighter plane, another to transport cargo and widely used drones, respectively.

US accuses China of testing hypersonic missile, Beijing denies it

In October, the chief of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the US Armed Forces, Gen. Mark Milley,  declared that China’s alleged hypersonic weapons tests represent a “very alarming” development amid growing tensions between the two. countries. 

Meanwhile, General John Hyten, vice president of the country’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, affirmed  that the US is developing its own hypersonic weapons, but not as fast as China. Thus, he detailed that in the last five years, Beijing has carried out hundreds of hypersonic tests, while Washington has only carried out nine. According to the military man, China has already deployed a medium-range hypersonic weapon, while his country still has a few years to go before having the first one.

For their part, from Beijing they   repeatedly denied having tested a hypersonic missile and insisted that it was the test of a space vehicle. “What I would like to reiterate is that the test reported by some outlets was  a routine test of a spacecraft  to test spacecraft reuse technology,” explained  Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin.

This year, the Pentagon has conducted several tests of hypersonic weapons, with mixed results. In October, the US Navy successfully tested a booster rocket engine that would be used to power a launch vehicle, capable of taking a hypersonic weapon high.

Unlike ICBMs, which travel in a predictable arc and can be tracked by long-range radars, a hypersonic weapon maneuvers much closer to the ground, making it  difficult to detect .