U.S. Increases Investment in Hypersonic Weapons

| Walter Pincus
Walter Pincus
Columnist, The Cipher Brief

Congress has decided to accelerate the Trump administration’s movement into the age of hypersonic weapons.

These weapons are designed to travel at Mach 6 or more, which means they fly at least six times faster than the speed of sound compared to intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) re-entry vehicles, which travel at supersonic speeds closer to Mach 5 or less. Next-generation hypersonic weapon technology is designed to thwart, through speed, all existing air and missile defense systems.

Hypersonic weapons are powered by special jet engines that operate by combustion of fuel in a stream of air compressed by the forward speed of the vehicle itself. Often called scramjets, they are designed to glide atop the atmosphere with combustion taking place as the airflow goes through the engine at supersonic speeds.

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The Author is Walter Pincus

Walter Pincus is a Columnist and the Senior National Security Reporter at The Cipher Brief. He spent forty years at The Washington Post, writing on topics from nuclear weapons to politics.  In 2002, he and a team of Post reporters won the Pulitzer Price for national reporting. He also won an Emmy in 1981 and the 2010 Arthur Ross Award from the American Academy for Diplomacy.  He can be reached at wpincus@thecipherbrief.com.

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