Russia also launched a hypersonic missile from a warship in the Arctic this week, underscoring how quickly Washington, D.C.’s two primary competitors are racing ahead in this technology. “We're not as advanced as the Chinese or the Russians in terms of hypersonic programs,” Gen. David Thompson, vice chief of space operations, said during his appearance at the Halifax International Security Forum. Hypersonic missiles fly at least five times the speed of sound, but their ability to glide on the atmosphere while changing direction at such a high speed makes them virtually impossible — with existing radars — to track and destroy.
While the Pentagon has pushed the development of new hypersonic missiles, the Army isn’t slated to field its first missile until 2024. The Navy is aiming to put its own version of the missile on a destroyer in 2025 and on Virginia-class submarines in 2028.