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CHINA BECOMES US PRIMARY ADVERSARY......As China's hypersonic could sink US aircraft carriers, Pentagon

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The era of the American aircraft carrier as the premier embodiment of military might could be ending unless the U.S. develops defenses for the next generation of highly maneuverable, super-fast hypersonic weapons under development by Russia and China, the Pentagon's top weapons researcher said Tuesday.

Michael Griffin, undersecretary of defense for research and engineering, said China is spending billions to develop a non-nuclear version of the weapons that could render U.S. aircraft carriers vulnerable to attack.

“In round numbers, China has done 20 times as many of hypersonic weapons tests as has the United States over the last decade,” Griffin told the annual McAleese-Credit Suisse Defense Conference.

China in particular, he said, has set itself on a course to become a global power and America’s primary adversary.

“When the Chinese can deploy tactical or regional hypersonic systems, they hold at risk our carrier battle groups. They hold our entire surface fleet at risk. They hold at risk our forward-deployed land-based forces,” Griffin said.

Griffin, who has been on the job less than two weeks, said developing defenses for the hypersonic threat is his No. 1 technical priority for the Pentagon.

“Without our ability to defend and without at least an equal response capability on the offensive side, then what we’ve done is we have allowed a situation to exist where our deployed forces are held at risk. We cannot do the same for them,” Griffin said. “And so our only response is either to let them have their way, or to go nuclear. Well, that should be an unacceptable situation for the United States.”

Hypersonic glide vehicles are unmanned aircraft that travel at more than five times the speed of sound, more than a mile per second, below U.S. missile defenses. They can carry conventional or nuclear weapons and reach anywhere in the world in three hours or less.

“The advantage of hypersonic systems is broadly speaking, irrespective of their range, that they underfly missile defense and they overfly air defense. That’s a niche we haven’t spent much time in recently, and if I had to pick my highest technical priority responding that that, both offensively and defensively, that would be my highest technical priority,” Griffin said.

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