Sputnik moments and hypersonic hype
China’s test of a hypersonic missile virtually guarantees extra funding for the American version, whose first full test flight is only scheduled for the autumn of 2022. Russia already has a more or less operational hypersonic missile, and India and North Korea are working on them.
General Mark Milley, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said last week that China’s test of a hypersonic missile may not represent a ‘Sputnik moment,’ but it’s ry close to that’ and a ‘significant technological event.’ Hypersonic weapons are completely pointless in a nuclear role, and dangerous to deterrence even in a non-nuclear version, so why is there such enthusiasm for them, asks Gwynne Dyer.
Photograph courtesy of U.S. Department of Defense