THE US has unveiled plans for its own ‘carrier killer’ hypersonic missile to rival those of China and Russia.
Both of America’s rivals have hypersonic missiles in service, with speeds of up to 12 times the speed of sound, but the Pentagon’s ambitions signal the arms race has been joined.
The US Navy says it wants the Hypersonic Air-Launched Offensive Anti-Surface Warfare missile – or HALO – in service no later than 2028.
The anti-ship missile will allow the US to target China's new aircraft carrier fleet.
The move is in response to Beijing's huge arsenal of hypersonic weapons – dubbed "carrier killers" – which are aimed at neutralising the power of the US Navy and attacking American facilities in the Pacific.
China's newest missile in service, the DF-17, became fully operational at the beginning of January.
According to the US military, it is capable of “extreme manoeuvres” and “evasive actions”.
Experts have warned China could strike US bases from California to Japan with "invincible" hypersonic missiles.
The HALO will also allow the US to match Russia’s Kinzhal – or Dagger – hypersonic missile which the Kremlin has previously boasted is “unstoppable”.
The weapons have already been used in the Ukraine war, with video showing the moment one hit an ammunition dump.
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In response, two defence companies Lockheed Martin and Raytheon are to begin developing their own prototypes to allow the US to compete with Russia and China.
“As threat capability continues to advance, additional range, warfare capability and capacity is required to address the more demanding threat environment,” said Captain Richard Gensley, precision strike weapons program manager.
“Our team is leveraging science and technology and rapid prototyping arenas to support aggressive schedule execution.”
HALO is one of a handful of new hypersonic weapons the Pentagon is currently developing and deploying.
The US Air Force is moving forward with two separate hypersonic programs the Hypersonic Attack Cruise Missile and the Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon.
Meanwhile, the Army is fielding its own land-based variant of Conventional Prompt Strike, which is derived from the same technology.
It comes after Beijing has already demonstrated its military might by launching two hypersonic nuclear missiles which circled the world and "defied the laws of physics".
CHINA’S HYPERSONIC MISSILES
China has invested a large amount of money in hypersonic missiles with one goal in mind – keeping the US at bay in the eventof war
Whether it’s aircraft carriers or the US air base on Guam, the Chinese military believes the missiles can give them an edge and have been described as “game changers” by Western experts.
They differ from ballistic missiles in that they comprise a rocket that flies to around 25 miles above the earth which then unleashes a Hypersonic Glide Vehicle.
The detached HGV uses the Earth’s gravity to descend at speeds of up to 7700 mph.
In contrast to ballistic missiles the HGV can be steered in flight making them a terrifying adversary and particularly dangerous to large warships such as aircraft carriers.
The Chinese launched two hypersonic nuclear missiles which circled the Earth and "defied the laws of physics" back in 2021.
Its newest missile in actual service, the DF-17, became fully into operation at the beginning of January after first seen at a parade in Beijing in 2019.
According to the US military, it is accurate to within a few yards and is capable of “extreme maneuvers” and “evasive actions”.
Its relatively low cost means the Chinese military can fire scores of them if a first attempt fails.
As tensions continue to mount between Washington and Beijing over Taiwan, US officials fear China could use hypersonic weapons to wipe out American warplanes and bases in Japan or Guam in the event of a war.
And experts have now warned China is using green lasers fired from satellites to gather intelligence for surprise missile attacks.
Rick Fisher, an expert on China’s military from the International Assessment and Strategy Center, said the satellite is "a classic case of a Chinese dual use" of civilian tech that also serves military missions.
He told The Sun Online that China's laser activity could pave the way for a surprise Pearl Habor-style missile attack on Hickham – a joint US Navy and Air Force facility.
But Fisher also warned the Chinese People's Liberation Army could target other US bases from Japan to California.
"Indeed there is an increasing Chinese threat to Hawaii but in a general war over Taiwan the PLA will also likely target US facilities in Japan, South Korea, Alaska and California," he said.
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