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Heidi Shyu: DoD Keeps Abreast of Hypersonic Tech Despite Workforce Challenges

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Heidi Shyu, undersecretary for research and engineering at the Department of Defense, said every service branch under DOD is developing hypersonics weapons in order to keep up with the accelerating pace of the technology’s adoption by governments such as Russia and China.

She told The Hill editor-in-chief Bob Cusack at a Raytheon Technologies-sponsored event Tuesday the department agency is heavily invested in hypersonics training and fielding efforts, and is in fact on track for deployment in the mid-2020s.

“It is important to keep abreast of what’s going on in hypersonics, but it’s equally important to keep abreast of many different technology area that’s important to us as well,” Shyu said during the Q&A session.

Shyu, a 2022 Wash100 Award winner, noted the Pentagon plans to spend a significant portion of its fiscal 2023 budget to increase testing capability.

When asked about the obstacles currently facing hypersonics, she cited staffing as a major concern especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. She cited various programs the department created to boost recruitment, such as the SMART scholarship program, Special Immigration Visa for post-doctorate graduates, as well as projects that promote science, technology, engineering and mathematics in higher education.

The DOD official added that one of the department’s commitments moving forward is to collaborate with commercial companies to help scale up production while lowering the cost of developing and testing hypersonic and other defense weapons.