- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 5, 2019

The three-star Army general tasked with the development of a long-range weapon capable of hitting any target around the world within an hour said such a weapon will be in the U.S. arsenal within the next five years.

Lt. Gen. Neil Thurgood, head of the Army’s energy and hypersonics directorate, said the service was on track in determining which defense firm would begin work on prototype versions of the new weapon by this summer.

“It’s four vehicles, two missiles on a truck. We have to design and build a transported erector-launcher … which puts it at a vertical or near-vertical position to make the launch happen,” Gen. Thurgood told reporters at the Pentagon on Tuesday.

“Some people may think of it as long-range artillery. It’s not long-range artillery. It’s a strategic weapon that will be used for strategic outcomes,” he added.

Army leaders have established a goal of fielding a ground-based hypersonic weapon by 2023.

That hypersonic weapon development work is all part of the Army’s efforts to make significant inroads into areas like cyber and electronic warfare, information warfare and expanding the service’s portfolio in areas like advising foreign forces — all with an eye toward curbing Russian and Chinese influence in the Pacific and eastern Europe.

The U.S. is already playing catch-up in a new arms race with Beijing and Moscow.

Russian military officials announced the first deployment of the Kinzhal or “Dagger” hypersonic missile last May, while China claimed last year to have successfully  tested its own hypersonic missile, dubbed the DF-17.

The last concerted efforts by the U.S. to develop a hypersonic weapon was the 2011 HVT-2 Falcon, a missile based system created by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the 2010 Air Force X-51 Waverider scramjet hypersonic weapon. Neither ever made it out of the early development phase. 

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