Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin rebuked China’s pursuit of advancing hypersonic weaponry and warned that the United States will defend itself if needed.
Austin’s comments about China’s push to enhance hypersonic technology came on Thursday as he was in South Korea for annual security talks.
“We have concerns about the military capabilities that the PRC continues to pursue, and the pursuit of those capabilities increases tensions in the region,” Austin said about the hypersonic weapons test China conducted in July.
MAJORITY BELIEVE CHINA IS US'S BIGGEST THREAT, WHILE CONFIDENCE IN MILITARY HAS PLUMMETED: POLL
Austin's remarks come a couple days after Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall said the two adversarial nations are engaged in an "arms race that has been going on for quite some time” and noted, “The Chinese have been at it very aggressively."
China's test hypersonic missile “went around the world, dropped off a hypersonic glide vehicle that glided all the way back to China, that impacted a target,” said Gen. John Hyten, the former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
While hypersonic missile technology has been around for decades, the latest advancements provide additional maneuverability and stealth, making it more difficult for defense systems to intercept an incoming attack.
Austin noted that the U.S. will “continue to maintain the capabilities to defend and deter against a range of potential threats from the PRC to ourselves and to our allies.”
“What they did a few weeks ago was very significant militarily and from an experiment standpoint in terms of research and development," Gen. Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, explained last month. "That was a system, and I can’t go into the classification part of it, that was a system that traveled at extraordinary rates of speed that no defensive systems are capable of dealing with.”
CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER
In the days before his retirement last month, Gen. Hyten acknowledged that the Chinese military has conducted "hundreds" of hypersonic tests in the last five years, while the U.S. has conducted only nine such tests. He also called the pace of China’s military development “stunning."