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US to boost weapons research following Russia hypersonic missile test: Pentagon

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Models of a Boeing Hypersonic passenger concept plane are displayed during the Farnborough Airshow, south west of London, on July 17, 2018. (AFP photo)

The US Defense Department will boost research in hypersonic offense and defense weapons, in response to a recent Russian test of a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile system, according to US media.

The Pentagon will step its focus on hypersonic weapons as Russia and China continue their march toward fielding the technology and erode America’s dominance, Lieutenant Colonel Michelle Baldanza, a Pentagon spokeswoman, told the Voice of America (VOA).

"While the United States has been the world leader in hypersonic system research for many decades, we did not choose to weaponize it," Baldanza told VOA..

"Those who have decided to weaponize hypersonics are creating a war-fighting asymmetry that we must address," she added.

"We are pursuing options for weapons delivered from land, sea and air to hold at risk high value, heavily defended and time critical targets at relevant ranges so that we can ensure our ability to dominate the battlefield by 2028."

The new Russian intercontinental missile system, dubbed Avangard, is a hypersonic glider that detaches itself from a rocket after being launched and glides back to earth at speeds faster than the speed of sound.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, who oversaw the missile's test on Wednesday, said the weapon is "invulnerable" to US missile defenses and will ensure Russia's security for decades to come.

"This is a wonderful, excellent gift for the country for the New Year," the Tass news service quoted Putin as saying.

He said the weapon will become part of Russia's Strategic Missile Forces next year.

In March, Putin announced an array of new strategic nuclear weapons that can hit a target anywhere in the world, including the US.

The Russian test comes at a time of heightened tensions between Moscow and Washington over the allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 US.presidential election and the conflicts in Ukraine and Syria.

Russia is planning to modernize its strategic and conventional weapons in reaction to US President Donald Trump’s threats to withdraw from the Soviet-era Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, which bans the two sides from developing land-based missile systems ranging from 310 to 3,400 miles.

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