23:49 GMT22 February 2020
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    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The US Defence Department is increasing investments and accelerating testing to develop hypersonic weapons years earlier than it previously planned, Defence Secretary Mark Esper said at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

    "The Department nearly doubled its long-term investment - almost 5 billion more in [fiscal year] 2020 - for hypersonic weapons alone over the next five years. Our 2021 budget will be even stronger", Esper said. "We have significantly ramped up flight testing and other experimentations so that we can accelerate the delivery of this capability in all its forms to our warfighters years earlier than previously planned".

    The statement follows US Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff John Hyten's comment that the United States needs to expedite the creation of hypersonic weapons to reclaim global leadership in the field after the failure of major development programmes.

    Hyten admitted that the development stopped "for years to recover" and called for "inserting speed in the processes inside the Pentagon".

    Russia and China both boast hypersonic capabilities. President Donald Trump has recently claimed that the United States had "many hypersonic missiles" under construction. The Defence Department is racing to develop hypersonic missiles, which fly between above five times the speed of sound, to match weapons already demonstrated by Russia and China.

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    US Defense Department, Mark Esper, hypersonic, United States
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