00:45 GMT14 August 2020
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    US President Donald Trump has invoked a wartime executive power giving him the authority to mobilize US industry, saying that without presidential direction, US industry "cannot reasonably be expected" to provide the materials necessary for hypersonic weapons development "adequately and in a timely manner."

    On Wednesday, Trump invoked the Defense Production Act of 1950, using the measure to direct civilian industry's production of hypersonic weapons components.

    "I hereby determine, pursuant to section 303(a)(5) of the Act, that the industrial base production capability for ultra-high and high temperature composites for hypersonic, strategic missile, and space launch systems is essential to the national defense," Trump said in the directive.

    "Without Presidential action under section 303 of the Act, United States industry cannot reasonably be expected to provide the production capability for ultra-high and high temperature composites for hypersonic, strategic missile, and space launch systems adequately and in a timely manner," the order continues. "Further, purchases, purchase commitments, or other action pursuant to section 303 of the Act are the most cost-effective, expedient, and practical alternative method for meeting the need for this critical capability."

    Военный парад, посвящённый 73-й годовщине Победы в ВОВ
    © Sputnik / Evgeny Biyatov
    Multi-purpose fighter MiG-31 with the hypersonic Kinzhal rocket on the military parade devoted to the 73rd anniversary of the victory in the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945
    While Russia and China have developed the Mach 5-capable weapons, the US does not yet have an operational hypersonic weapon. The missiles are so fast and maneuverable, they are believed to be invulnerable to anti-air defenses and very difficult to spot through traditional ballistic missile detection methods.

    Last month, after Trump boasted of a "super duper missile" under development, Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman tweeted the US was "working on developing a range of hypersonic missiles to counter our adversaries."

    While the Hypersonic Conventional Strike Weapon (HCSW) was canceled in February in a budget battle, its developer, Lockheed Martin, is pushing ahead with another hypersonic weapon, the AGM-183A Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW).
    An artist concept of the AGM-183A Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW) shows the hypersonic missile after launching from a B-52 bomber, encapsulated in a rocket that accelerates it to hypersonic speed. Lockheed Martin artist rendering.
    Lockheed Martin
    An artist concept of the AGM-183A Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW) shows the hypersonic missile after launching from a B-52 bomber, encapsulated in a rocket that accelerates it to hypersonic speed. Lockheed Martin artist rendering.

    Throughout the national crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic, Trump had used the Defense Production Act to direct civilian industries in the production of necessary medical equipment, such as swabs, ventilators, masks and other protective gear.

    On June 13, 2017, Trump also invoked the Defense Production Act, saying that "critical technology items affecting aerospace structures and fibers, radiation-hardened microelectronics, radiation test and qualification facilities, and satellite components and assemblies are critical to national defense."

    Related:

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    Upgraded S-400s May Get Anti-Hypersonic Capabilities, Air Defence Specialists Say
    Pentagon Short on Funds for Developing Hypersonic Missile Defense Systems
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