US Senators Point to ‘Hypersonic Gap’ With Russia, China

US Senators Point to ‘Hypersonic Gap’ With Russia, China

U.S. senators are concerned Russia and China may outpace Washington in developing hypersonic weapons. 

In a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing Thursday with top defense officials, lawmakers expressed concern about the weapons that fly at five times the speed of sound, or Mach 5, Voice of America reports.

Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut called the hypersonic weapons “a game-changer.” Independent Senator Angus King of Maine called them “a nightmare weapon for aircraft carriers.”  

“It sounds to me as if hypersonic weapons and other future weapons have been more advanced by other countries such as China, even Russia coming back into the scene in a real aggressive way … are we going to deter them from moving forward?” asked Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia. 

Testifying before the committee, Admiral Charles Richard, commander of U.S. Strategic Command, admitted to the ongoing competition. But he sought to reassure the senators that the U.S. has the necessary deterrence capabilities.  

“I am confident that this nation has the ability to produce the capabilities we have to have,” he said. “And for deterrence, again, the basic equation hasn’t changed. Can I deny you your aim, or can I impose a cost on you that is greater than what you see? I can do that if necessary.” 

Richard added that the U.S. maintains conventional superiority over Russia and China while maintaining strategic deterrence. 

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