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Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to Discuss Hypersonic Weapon Development With Industry

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Lloyd Austin, secretary of the Department of Defense and a 2022 Wash100 Award winner, will meet the top executives of nearly a dozen of U.S. defense companies on Feb. 3rd to discuss the importance of speed and collaboration in fielding hypersonic technologies designed to help the nation stay ahead of recent Chinese and Russian advances, Defense One reported Wednesday.

Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks, fellow 2022 Wash100 Award recipient will chair the virtual meeting, which is expected to see the participation of Heidi Shyu, undersecretary of defense for research and engineering who oversees all hypersonic weapons development, who is also a 2022 Wash100 Awardee.

DOD spokesman Eric Pahon said the upcoming meeting will focus on a range of topics, from systems engineering concepts to the manufacturing workforce.

Top defense officials are actively pursuing the development of hypersonic weapons, or missiles that can maneuver at speeds of at least Mach 5, to keep up with the advances that both China and Russia have made in their respective hypersonic weapons programs.

The Pentagon has requested a $3.8 billion hypersonic research budget for fiscal year 2022, while the Missile Defense Agency sought an additional $247.9 million for hypersonic defense, according to a report Congressional Research Service analyst Kelley Sayler published in October.

According to Sayler, the development of U.S. hypersonic weapons “will likely require greater accuracy and will be more technically challenging to develop than nuclear-armed Chinese and Russian systems.”