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Pacific Air Forces Commander Eyes Budget for Hypersonic Weapons

Hypersonic missile

Pacific Air Forces Commander Eyes Budget for Hypersonic Weapons

Gen. Kenneth Wilsbach, commander of the U.S. Pacific Air Forces, said hypersonic weapons should be a top priority for lawmakers in Congress should they approve a new budget for Pacific operations.

According to Wilsbach, hypersonic weapons have shorter flight times and improved target accuracy compared to the current family of weapons used by the Pacific Air Forces.

Wilsbach said he has no preference in terms of hypersonic weapon variants, noting that the important thing is to be able to hit targets using a weapon that adversaries would have a hard time defending against, National Defense Magazine reported.

Current hypersonic weapons are able to reach speeds of Mach 5 or higher. One of the known variants employs a “boost-glide” approach where the weapon shoots out from a ground-based missile, gradually increasing in speed as it descends. The air-launch variants, on the other hand, are launched directly from an aircraft.

As it stands, the Senate is working on passing a budget for the “Pacific Deterrence Initiative.” Senators have already earmarked $6B in their version of the fiscal year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act to fund Pacific-based operations aimed at countering Chinese troops.

The PDI shares similarities to the European Deterrence Initiative, which is dedicated to countering Russian forces. 

Since PDI is still in the works, Wilsbach said the Pacific Air Forces will not be relying on PDI funding to advance its modernization efforts. The commander assured, however, that his troops are armed with advanced weapons like the F-22 and F-35 aircraft.

In addition to hypersonic weapons, Wilsbach has his sights set on the joint all-domain command and control initiative. 

The JADC2 framework will connect sensors from all the military services, which Wilsbach believes will increase synergy, interconnectedness and situational awareness.

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Tags: boost glide hypersonic weapon Joint All-Domain Command and Control Kenneth Wilsbach Mach 5 National Defense Magazine Pacific Deterrence Initiative Popular Voices U.S. Air Force U.S. Pacific Air Forces