As Russia and China jump ahead of the United States with superior hypersonic weapons, one of the Pentagon’s top research and development arms is playing defense with a new, secret project to guard the nation against Mach 5 missile attacks.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) Glide Breakers program will research “component technologies” needed for one or more defense systems but will focus heavily on a kinetic-force weapon to intercept high-speed enemy missiles, said The Drive.
Last week, DARPA presented the stylish concept art of the Glide Break for the first time at its D60 Symposium, a three-day conference honoring the organization's 60th anniversary.
The Drive said the defense agency had previously hosted a meeting with government officials to break down the project and its requirements to interested parties back in July.
“The objective of the Glide Breaker program is to further the capability of the United States to defend against supersonic and the entire class of hypersonic threats,” DARPA said in an announcement for the July 2018 “Proposers Day.” “Of particular interest are component technologies that radically reduce risk for development and integration of an operational, hard-kill system.”
If successfully developed then fielded, the hypersonic missile interceptor would serve as a deterrent against Russia and China. The Drive notes it is unclear if the interceptor is even realistic -- saying that striking down a hypersonic missile out of orbit is like trying to “hit one bullet with another bullet.”
The revelation of DARPA's new missile interceptor program should be viewed as a clear message to Russia and China. Last week, Missile Defense Agency commander Lieutenant General Samuel Greaves warned that China had recently launched “several dozen successful hypersonic missile tests that Washington cannot ignore."
“The Chinese have now done several dozen successful hypersonic (missile) tests… we just cannot (ignore),” Greaves briefed a group of government officials held by the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance.
If DARPA successfully transfers the interceptor technology to the US Air Force in the next several years and implements it on the modern battlefield. Then, it would likely be the primary defense system that challenges China's waverider hypersonic weapon.
To make up for lost time, the Pentagon awarded Lockheed Martin with approximately $1.5 billion in contracts this summer to develop a hypersonic missile for the Air Force.
While many believe American Hegemony is here to stay, there is a strong possibility that it could be somewhat displaced in the coming years as China and Russia now lead the hypersonic race. DARPA's Glide Breaker program should be viewed as a defensive ploy by Washington, as US Admiral Harry Harris, former head of the US Pacific Command and now the ambassador to South Korea, recently said “China’s hypersonic weapons development outpaces ours… we’re falling behind.”