Hypersonic weapons could tilt war in favor of Russia, China
By Seth Cropsey
Hypersonic weapons could well transform the strategic balance. The United States’ adversaries recognize this fact — Russia and China have both tested hypersonics and appear to have prioritized integrating them into their combat forces. The U.S. must do the same — or accept a strategic balance in our adversaries’ favor.
The Washington news cycle typically overlooks subtle yet consequential policy choices. Biden’s FY2022 defense budget request of $715 billion constitutes a functional decrease from the previous budget — its $11 billion “increase” does not keep pace with inflation. Although the Obama administration’s most robust technologists, former Undersecretary of Defense Robert Work foremost among them, are not serving in this administration, their imprint is clear. Biden cut $8 billion of procurement, and in turn boosted broader research and development by $5.5 billion.
Thus, its envisioned military will rely upon a small number of high technology platforms, a sort of “third offset” redux. Given this context, even the Biden administration’s apparently small funding choices will have a significant impact upon future American force structure, capabilities, and strategy — hence the Biden administration’s increased funding for hypersonic development must be considered more specifically.
Trump’s FY2021 budget included $3.2 billion for hypersonics. Biden’s FY2022 request provides $3.8 billion, an 18 percent funding increase. Moreover, the administration resumed hypersonic testing after a brief pause before the U.S.-Russia summit in June. This past month, the Air Force successfully detonated the AGM-183a ARRW hypersonic missile’s warhead and conducted its second air-launched flight test of the weapon.
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