The U.S. Air Force affirmed Tuesday that a hypersonic weapons “arms race” is well underway between the United States and China.
Secretary Frank Kendall told Reuters, “There is an arms race, not necessarily for increased numbers, but for increased quality.”
DF-17 Dongfeng medium-range ballistic missiles equipped with a DF-ZF hypersonic glide vehicle, involved in a military parade to mark the 70th anniversary of the Chinese People’s Republic. (Photo by Zoya RusinovaTASS via Getty Images)
“It’s an arms race that has been going on for quite some time,” he said. “The Chinese have been at it very aggressively.”
Kendall’s comments came weeks after Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley confirmed that China had conducted tests of its hypersonic weapons systems over the summer, likening it to the “Sputnik moment” of the late 1950s when the Soviet Union and the United States were competing in the space race.
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The Pentagon has held a hypersonic weapons test of its own this year, but with mixed results. A test for an experimental system from the Pacific Spaceport Complex on Kodiak Island in Alaska in October failed because of a problem with the booster system, Reuters reported.
A Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapons Concept (HAWC) missile in seen in an artist’s conception. (Defense/Handout via REUTERS.)
Hypersonic weapons are broadly defined as any vehicle or missile that moves at Mach 5, five times the speed of sound, or around 3,800 miles per hour.
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Speaking to Reuters, Kendall admitted the U.S. has focused resources on Iraq and Afghanistan at the expense of developing hypersonic weapons.
“This isn’t saying we’ve done nothing, but we haven’t done enough,” he said.
Kendall also admitted that the military’s equipment could use an overhaul.
FILE: The US Navy, in collaboration with the US Army, conducts a static fire test of the first stage of the newly developed 34.5″ common hypersonic missile that will be fielded by both services, in Promontory, Utah, U.S., in this handout image taken on October 28, 2021. ( )
Fox News has reached out to the U.S. Air Force for further comment and will update this story accordingly.
Kendall’s remarks reflect a growing effort by Biden administration officials to put more focus on China and Russia after the U.S.’s chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan in August.
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In its 2021 Global Posture Review, published Monday, the Pentagon said it was planning major infrastructure improvements at military airfields in Guam and Australia to counter China in the Asia-Pacific region.
Fox News’ Andrew Mark Miller and Peter Aitken contributed to this report.