Defense

Austin says China’s hypersonic weapons pursuit ‘increases tensions in the region’

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin testifies before the House Armed Services Committee on the conclusion of military operations in Afghanistan at the Rayburn House Office building on Capitol Hill on September 29, 2021 in Washington, DC.
AFP/Pool

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Thursday lambasted China over its pursuit of hypersonic weapons, saying the activity “increases tensions in the region.”

“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 following security talks with South Korea.

“We’ll continue to maintain the capabilities to defend and deter against a range of potential threats from the PRC to ourselves and to our allies,” he added. 

The Pentagon confirmed earlier this year that China had conducted a hypersonic weapons test over the summer. As the AP noted, both China and Russia are believed to be ahead of the U.S. when it comes to these types of advanced weaponry.

Officials have said that China’s hypersonic weapons tests appear to have far outpaced similar efforts by Moscow and Washington, with Joint Chiefs of Staff Vice Chairman Gen. John Hyten saying last month that the country’s military capabilities are developing at a “stunning” pace. 

On Wednesday, Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall said the U.S. was in an “arms race” with China over the development of hypersonic weapons that can evade missile defenses.

“It’s an arms race that has been going on for quite some time,” Kendall told Reuters. “The Chinese have been at it very aggressively.”

North Korea also announced in September that it had successfully tested two hypersonic missiles.

Austin on Thursday touched on North Korea’s weapons program as well, saying it “is increasingly destabilizing for regional security.” 

–Updated at 11:13 a.m.

 

Tags China Hypersonic aircraft Hypersonic flight Lloyd Austin Lloyd Austin Russia

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