08:46 GMT30 November 2020
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    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The US Air Force awarded $480 million to weapons manufacturer Lockheed Martin to begin design on a second hypersonic weapon prototype, the Defense Department said in a press release.

    "Today the Air Force has awarded a contract not to exceed $480,000,000 to Lockheed Martin Missiles & Fire Control to begin designing a second hypersonic weapon prototype," the release said on Monday. "This contract will provide the critical design review, test and production readiness support for the Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW)."

    Artist's illustration of the Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle.
    © Photo : Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation
    Under the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act signed by US President Donald Trump on Monday, the United States will accelerate its hypersonic missile defense program and provide a report within 90 days to congressional defense committees.

    In April, the US Air Force awarded a $930 million contract to Lockheed Martin to develop the first prototype of a hypersonic weapon.

    A hypersonic weapon is a missile that travels at Mach 5 or higher, which is at least five times faster than the speed of sound. Senior Pentagon commanders have warned that the United States is advancing less rapidly than Russia and China in the sphere of hypersonic weapons.

    Russian President Vladimir Putin has said Moscow had successfully tested its own hypersonic missile, the Kinzhal. US Strategic Command (STRATCOM) chief General John Hyten has warned that the United States lacks any defense against hypersonic attack.


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    design, prototype, hypersonic weapons, Pentagon, US
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