Lloyd Austin Slams China for Pursuing Hypersonic Weapons

The Pentagon chief accused China of 'increasing tensions in the region'

On Thursday, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin slammed China for pursuing hypersonic missiles and other advanced weaponry even as the Pentagon is focusing on developing such technologies.

“Regarding hypersonics, as we’ve said before, we — we have concerns about the military capabilities that the PRC [People’s Republic of China] continues to pursue, and the pursuit of those capabilities increases tensions in the region,” Austin said at a press conference in South Korea.

Austin said he was aware of a hypersonic missile test China conducted on July 27th, referring to a launch that was first reported by The Financial Times. The report said China launched a nuclear-capable hypersonic glide vehicle in space that circled the globe. For their part, China has acknowledged the launch but said it tested a space vehicle, not a weapon.

US officials were reportedly “shocked” by the Chinese test, but some experts have said any country with a space program could have done the same thing. Either way, the report and the US reaction serve the Pentagon’s need to justify more military spending to develop hypersonic missiles and other advanced weaponry. The US also conducts hypersonic missile tests of its own that get far less media attention.

For the 2022 budget, the Pentagon requested $3.8 billion for hypersonic weapons. Over $112 billion of the budget will go towards the research and development of advanced weapon technologies, including artificial intelligence, robotics, space, and cyber capabilities.

Austin said it was not just China’s hypersonic pursuit the US was concerned about. “And I would just point out that the — the hypersonic capability is a capability, but certainly not the only capability that the PRC has the capability to develop, and my job is to focus on the broader picture and to make sure that we can defend ourselves against any and all threats,” he said.

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of Antiwar.com, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.