Top general admits U.S. trailing China, Russia on hypersonic missiles

Beijing and Moscow each launched hypersonic missiles last week, while the U.S. is not on track to do so until 2024.

Updated: November 21, 2021 - 9:26pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

A top Space Force general is warning the U.S. is trailing in a key frontier of modern warfare after China and Russia both successfully launched hypersonic missile in the last week.

“We're not as advanced as the Chinese or the Russians in terms of hypersonic programs,” Gen. David Thompson, vice chief of space operations, told the Halifax International Security Forum on Saturday. 

China launched a hypersonic missile that circled the globe before demolishing a target while Russia launched its own similar  missile from a warship in the Arctic.

The United States isn’t set to launch it own hypersonic missile until 2024.

Hypersonic missiles travel about five times the speed of sound and currently can’t be tracked by radar.

The Space Force is trying to “figure out the type of satellite constellation that we need” to track these missiles, Thompson told Politico in an interview after his speech Saturday. “It's a new challenge, but it's not that we don't have an answer to this challenge. We just have to understand it, fully design it, and fly it.”