Mike Gilday further underlined during a Friday address at the right-wing Heritage Foundation think tank in Washington that developing such systems, which would use high-energy lasers or high-power microwaves to destroy a hypersonic threat, remains a top priority of the US Navy.
“From a defensive standpoint, we’re focused on the threat. We’re not ignoring it,” the top US admiral reiterated without pointing to any progress in the development process.
The naval commander further admitted to the advances made by top US rivals such as Russia and China in the field of hypersonic weapons, saying, “They’re a significant concern. Russia and China are both developing those capabilities and will be fielding those capabilities shortly.”
Washington has persistently expressed concerns about lagging far behind Moscow and Beijing in the development of hypersonic weapons.
Russia became the first country in the world to achieve modern hypersonic capabilities after deploying the Kinzhal (Dagger) nuclear-capable air-to-ground missile system into service in late 2017.
China followed suit with rolling out the DF-ZF hypersonic glide vehicle in October 2019. The US is still in the process of testing hypersonic systems, some of which have been delayed due to a series of testing failures.
Hypersonic weapons move in the upper atmosphere at speeds of more than five times the speed of sound, or about 6,200 kilometers per hour.