According to Mike Griffin, who is a former undersecretary in charge of defense for research and engineering, China’s successful demonstration of the hypersonic glide vehicle — which is a weapon which is launched into the space, orbits the Earth, as well as reenters the atmosphere before striking a target — is a “disruptive technology” designed to outperform the US military.
These advanced weapons, which China and Russia are likely to deploy, are not designed for nuclear war yet are extremely disruptive because the US lacks the ability to predict where they will strike, according to Griffin, who spoke at a virtual venue hosted by Advanced Nuclear Weapons Alliance Deterrence Center.
Griffin led the Pentagon’s plan to dispatch a space-centered network of the missile-defense sensors to identify and track hypersonic missiles under the Trump administration as undersecretary of defense.
He stated that Russia and China “do not desire a nuclear exchange quite as much as we do.” Because their traditional military forces are less sophisticated than the US’, a hypersonic glide vehicle provides them an advantage, according to Griffin. “With the right type of disruptive technology, they can bring us down to their level.” Hypersonic weapons are an example of such disruptive technology.”
Griffin claims that the US is now playing catch-up and that money for the Missile Defense Agency and the Space Development Agency, which are constructing sensor satellites to identify and track hypersonic missiles, must be increased. “We should listen to your adversaries when they say they’re out to take you down,” he said. “We don’t listen as well as we should.”
He claims that a rival nation with the boost-glide vehicle is only “20 or 25 minutes away from a target.” The cost exchange ratio — the difference between what the US spends and what the opponent spends — is “horrible from our perspective,” Griffin added. “They launch a missile that costs a few million dollars, and three or two of those missiles can destroy an aircraft carrier.”
Hypersonic glide missiles level the playing field in the global contest for geopolitical domination “not by boosting their capabilities, but by reducing ours,” according to Griffin. “Once you’re in orbit, you don’t have to land right away,” says a boosted glide weapon. You can land whenever you want and along whatever azimuth you want. It can emerge from the south or even from the west and primarily establish an all-azimuth numerous salvo conventional strike.”
According to Kelley Sayler of the Congressional Research Service’s sophisticated technology and global security analyst, hypersonic glide vehicles launched into the space before de-orbiting and nearing their targets would allow China to dispatch vehicles over the South Pole, where they would be less likely to be monitored by US early-warning sensors.