The American Foreign Policy Council (AFPC) is dedicated to advancing the prosperity and security of the United States. AFPC’s Defense Technology Program launched its Strategic Primer initiative to educate Congressional staffers and the general public about technologies that affect U.S. national security. The Primers depict balanced representations of the potential benefits and limitations of a particular technology, its history and uses, and potential threats posed by adversarial use.
While the United States continues to face a growing threat from ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction, the current lack of a plan to address hypersonic weapons is truly problematic. As China and Russia continue their research and development of hypersonic weapons, it is imperative that U.S. policymakers and the defense community fully grasp the threat, as well as how this technology fits within the strategic calculus of adversary nations. This publication provides a brief overview of the challenge posed by hypersonic weapons, a discussion of how adversarial nations plan to incorporate hypersonic weapons into their military arsenals, an outline the U.S. offensive and defense capabilities, and policy recommendations to better address the threat.