US Senate Accelerates Hypersonic Defenses Citing “Fierce Competition” By China And Russia

The U.S. lawmakers have introduced bipartisan legislation that aims to improve missile defense capabilities of the United States. The U.S. Senators Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) introduced S. 2980 – Integrated Missile Defense Act of 2018 on May 24, which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Armed Services. The bill directs new efforts to further accelerate hypersonic missile defenses and space-based sensors, as the cold war for emerging technologies, including hy­per­son­ics be well underway against China and Russia.

“Last year, Congress – working closely with the Trump administration – undertook much-needed efforts to dramatically bolster and advance our country’s missile defense,” said Senator Sullivan.

“This year, continuing to work in a bipartisan fashion, our bill finally authorizes the full development and deployment of a space-based sensor layer. This important measure further helps to ready our missile defenses and make them increasingly interoperable and effective against an ever-evolving missile threat.

Additionally, this bill seeks to better align our missile defenses with the 2018 National Defense Strategy including more quickly fielding advanced capabilities to address future threats, better integrating our missile defense systems, and seeking to collaborate more with allies and partners on missile defense technologies, Senator Sullivan added.

“When it comes to North Korea, we can hope for the best while still planning for the worst,” Senator Schatz said.

“I strongly support diplomacy, but in the meantime, this bill beefs up our missile defense system and protects Hawaii, Alaska, and the U.S. mainland from rogue missile threats. It also speeds up our efforts to protect U.S. forces and allies in the region by improving our ability to detect, track, discriminate, and intercept increasingly sophisticated future missile threats,” Schatz added.

S. 2980 is co-sponsored by Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX), Gary Peters (D-MI) and Tom Cotton (R-AR). Here is the overview of the bill:

  • Develops and Deploys Space-based Sensors: Mandates the development deployment of space-based sensors as soon as practicable.

  • Readies Our Defenses: Mandates an analysis of accelerating the development and deployment of the Redesigned Kill Vehicle (RKV) to Missile Field 4 at Fort Greely.

  • Promotes a More Integrated Missile Defense: Directs a study on an integrated air-and-missile defense architecture to protect against evolving threats outlined in the 2018 National Defense Strategy.

  • Accelerates Our Defenses Against Hypersonic Threats: Directs the acceleration of our hypersonic missile defenses and links them to the deployment of space-based sensors.

  • Focuses of Allies: Expresses that the U.S. should work with allies and trusted partners to share missile defense capabilities.

  • More Rigorous Testing: Seeks to discourage a risk adverse culture of missile defense testing and promotes a more rigorous testing regime to deliver capabilities at the “speed of relevance.”

Senators Schatz and Sullivan stated that the Secretary of Defense “shall submit to the congressional defense committees a report” detailing how the department plans on accelerating its hypersonic missile defense program, within the next three months.

The Senators also quoted a variety of high-ranking military officials, who warn about China and Russia acquiring emerging technologies, including hy­per­son­ic missiles that could fundamentally change the landscape of war against the West.

  • General Joe Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stated, “The United States military is in a fierce competition to harness the benefits of emerging technologies, including hy­per­son­ics … as these developments will fundamentally change the character of war.”.

  • General John Hyten, Commander of United States Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) stated, “China is swiftly developing and testing a hy­per­son­ic-glide vehicle capability, a technology used to defeat ballistic missile defenses.”

  • General Hyten also stated, “President Putin announced Russia’s development of … a maneuverable hypersonic glide vehicle,” which “only reinforce Russia’s commitment to develop weapons designed to intimidate and coerce the U.S. and its allies.”.

  • Admiral Harry Harris, Commander of USPACOM stated, “China and Russia continue to develop and operationally field advanced counter-intervention technologies which include fielding and testing of highly maneuverable re-entry vehicle/warhead (i.e., hypersonic weapons) capabilities that challenge U.S. strategic, operational, and tactical freedom of movement and maneuver. China and Russia also present other notable challenges in the form of cruise missiles and small-unmanned aircraft systems (s–UAS) which fly different trajectories, making them hard to detect, acquire, track, and intercept.”

It seems as China and Russia are surpassing the United States in acquiring these emerging technologies that the Pentagon has not just tried to develop for years, but squandered trillions of dollars in failed Middle East wars. The consequence? Well, China and or Russia could soon have the ability to strike the heartland of the United States with a hypersonic missile — rendering all missile shields useless.

That is precisely why U.S. Senators are rushing to accelerate the hypersonic missile program because they understand China and Russia now have an edge. The slow death of American exceptionalism continues.

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