As the tensions between the United States, Russia and China continue to build, US military officials have been considering a new national security threat. According to top brass in the United States military, Russia and China are currently developing hypersonic weapons that could pose a significant risk to the United States mainland.

United States, Russia, China In Hypersonic Weapons Race

National security experts speak out

National security expert Bill Gertz has been speaking on the subject recently, and it is believed by the United States intelligence on the subject that both the US and China are currently developing highly manoeuvrable, ultra-fast and elusive hypersonic arms. This could potentially give them an edge over the United States in what is considered to be an increasingly tense relationship between the countries.

The rivalry between the United States, Russia and China has been predicated on an economic conflict, as the allegiance between Russia and China attempts to counteract the prominent position that the United States has occupied in the world order. There have been a wide range of elements to the economic battle between these nations, but central to it has been a realization from China in particular that it needs to be represented in global economic institutions at the very highest levels.

This economic conflict has naturally led to military tensions between the nations as well, and thus the United States will view the latest developments as particularly undesirable. In relation to the latest hypersonic reports, it has been suggested that both nuclear and non-nuclear nations can be prepared to apply cyber, counter-space and asymmetric weaponry in the midst of a crisis.

With China and Russia apparently developing these weapons at this time, there is a danger that the United States could fall behind in this realm. Much of the superiority of the United States on the world stage has been built upon its military superiority, and the vast investment that China has instigated in this area indicates that the communist nation understands its importance.

While an assessment of the relative military strength of the United States and the China would still indicate that the North American nation is still significantly ahead, China has certainly been closing the gap in recent years. Russia and China have formed a pretty strong allegiance with the intention of creating a power bloc in the world, and this has been reflected in the increasing formalization of the BRICS nations.

Hypersonic weapons unpredictability

Hypersonic weaponry refers to any longer-range precision strike that is capable of accelerating beyond the speed of Mach 5. Although extremely fast weaponry is nothing unusual in contemporary military development, hypersonic weapons are particularly unpredictable due to their trajectory. This ensures that they are almost impossible to intercept, at least by conventional missile defence systems, and lends them an unpredictability that makes hypersonic weaponry extremely deadly.

While this makes hypersonic weaponry a concern for United States in and of itself, another element of this technology also makes it particularly dangerous. Hypersonic weapons have not actually entered into active service anywhere on the planet, and the US has not actively developed them as of yet. This would mean that if Russia and China are able to develop such weaponry that they could gain a military lead over the United States for the first time, and perhaps even the more hawkish elements of the United States government could suggest that a pre-emptive strike from Russia and / or China would become a distinct possibility.

The development of hypersonic weaponry by these two major Eastern powers is not actually brand new news. Back in June, it was reported widely that military experts in the United States were already aware of Russia testing a new hypersonic attack aircraft. The Yu-71 reportedly has the capability to carry nuclear warheads that can penetrate missile defence systems; naturally a rather alarming proposition for the United States. It has also been suggested that Russia is particularly working on developing episodic weapons systems that can be launched by both land and sea-based means.

Previous reports have suggested that the United States is currently discussing, at least behind closed doors, the possible military options that are available to the nation against Russia and China. As the world order is increasingly centered around a bi-polar planet in which the traditional Anglo-American institutions are threatened by this new BRICS power bloc, it seems inevitable that more military posturing involving the United States, Russia and China are inevitable.

If the development of hypersonic weaponry by Russia and China was not considered enough of a concern, then another report this week has unquestionably deepened the mire. According to some sources, PAK DA, Russia’s brand new fifth-generation long-range bombers that are currently in development, already have the capability to be equipped with such hypersonic weapons.

Although there is no suggestion that Russia has reached the stage where such weaponry can be realistically deployed, it is clear that this will become a feasible proposition at some point in the future. China has also been testing a hypersonic glider vehicle that has been dubbed WU-14 by the Pentagon. With the United States outranking both Russia and China in almost every single aspect of military, this would certainly be a blow to the assumed military superiority of the United States, and could realign the delicate global balance of power.

US responds to Russia threat

Naturally, the United States is not taking this news lying down. Although this is a top secret project, it is known that the military is currently working on a similar hypersonic device that is referred to as the Advanced Hypersonic Weapon. This research forms part of its Prompt Global Strike program, that stands outside of the auspices of the United States’ START Treaty with Russia that was signed back in 2010.

This is still very much an unstable technology, as a hypersonic weapon that was involved in testing in the United States exploded prematurely back in 2014. But with China, Russia and the United States all vying for supremacy in contemporary geopolitics, it seems certain that it will be a technology that all three nations continue to explore.