- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 14, 2020

A U.S.-developed hypersonic missile hit within 6 inches of its target in a test earlier this year, Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said, highlighting a major breakthrough for the military’s race to develop hypersonic weapons.

In a speech at the Association of the U.S. Army conference Tuesday, Mr. McCarthy shed some light on a joint Army and Navy hypersonic glide body flight test from March that he said marked a significant feat.

“Hypersonic missiles are hitting their targets with a variance of only a mere 6 inches,” Mr. McCarthy said.

Hypersonic weapons fly at speeds at least five times the speed of sound — or Mach 5 — and are widely viewed as a game-changing military technology.

But for years specialists and military insiders have warned the U.S. has fallen behind its chief competitors, China and Russia, in the development of the weapons.

Last week, Russia conducted a test of its cutting-edge hypersonic missile that the Kremlin claims can travel at nine times the speed of sound and strike enemies more than 600 miles away.

The test of Russia’s widely hyped Zircon system saw a Russian frigate in the White Sea fire a missile and hit a target in the Barents Sea. It’s unclear exactly how far away the two vessels were at the time of the demonstration.

Catching up and ensuring the U.S. is on par with its foes, and has the capability to defend against hypersonics in the event enemies deploy them, has become a top priority inside the Pentagon.

Officials at the time of the test, which took place at the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai, said that the weapon flew at hypersonic speed and successfully hit its target.

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