11:17 GMT05 March 2021
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    However, the US will not be a pioneer in this sphere of weaponry, as Russia and China have already presented their own achievements in the area over the course of the last two years.

    US Air Force General Arnold Bunch Jr stated in an interview with the media that the US expects its two main hypersonic weapons programmes, the Hypersonic Conventional Strike Weapon (HCSW) and Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW), to be combat-ready by 2022.

    "We are already making efforts in the field of hypersonic [weapons]. I already have two programs. We are already implementing them […] We are already working with DARPA, we are already conducting research", the general stated.

    The key US contractor for the development of these weapons is the arms giant Lockheed Martin, famous for developing the fifth-generation F-35 jet, which suffered numerous cost and timetable overruns. The US Defence Department's research agency, DARPA, and the US Navy are separately also developing hypersonic missiles.

    The US made the production of hypersonic glide vehicles one of its priorities following Russian President Vladimir Putin's announcement in 2018 that his country had achieved success in developing such a weapon, called Avangard. He stressed that the missile is capable of carrying a nuclear-armed multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicle (MIRV) payload and that it can penetrate even the most sophisticated enemy defences.

    China also showcased its hypersonic DF-100 (Dongfeng-100) cruise missile during its National Day military parade in October 2019 for the first time. It's reported to have an effective radius of 9,320 miles (15,000 kilometres) and is capable of reaching the US within 30 minutes.


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    Lockheed Martin, hypersonic missiles, United States
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