The Pentagon has reluctantly commented about its development of hypersonic weapons after Donald Trump bragged about the existence of a new “super duper missile”.
Mr Trump’s comments came during a Friday presentation at the White House in which Defense Department officials presented the US president with the Space Force flag.
“We’re building right now, incredible military equipment, at a level that nobody’s ever seen before, we have no choice we have to do it, with the adversaries we have out there,” Mr Trump told reporters in the Oval Office.
“We have, I call it the ‘super duper missile’, and I heard the other night 17 times faster that what they have right now. Then you take the fastest missile we have right now. You heard Russia has five times, and China is working on five or six times, we have one 17 times, and it’s just gotten the go-ahead.”
The Department of Defence initially declined to comment, referring enquiries to the White House, which in turn referred reporters back to the Pentagon.
After the administration’s refusal to comment on the issue was revealed social media, Jonathan Rath Hoffman, the Pentagon’s chief spokesperson, tweeted: “The Department of Defense is working on developing a range of hypersonic missiles to counter our adversaries.”
The US has been pursuing the development of hypersonic weapons for years. According to CNBC, the Defense Department has almost a dozen programmes tasked with developing and defending against the new breed of weapons, which travel at five times the speed of sound or more.
The Department of Defense is working on developing a range of hypersonic missiles to counter our adversaries. https://t.co/ATb1XLHFtl
— Jonathan Rath Hoffman (@ChiefPentSpox)
Mr Trump directed the Pentagon in 2018 to establish the Space Force – the first new US military branch in 72 years – calling for “American dominance in space”.
The 16,000 airmen and civilians that make up the Space Force technically remain part of the Air Force, which previously oversaw offensive operations in space.
But Mr Trump has made clear he sees the newest service as critical to the future of American defence.
The Space Force’s dark blue and white flag includes a Delta Wing – long a symbol in the Air Force – meant to signify change and innovation. Dark and light shades of grey within the delta were incorporated in a nod to the 24/7 nature of the Space Force’s work.
The flag also features a globe, for the Space Force fighters’ home turf, and an elliptical orbit around the globe was incorporated to signify the force’s mission to defend and protect from adversaries and threats emanating in space.
This flag was produced by artists and crafts people at the Defense Logistics Agency flag room in Philadelphia from a design finalised and documented by the Department’s Institute of Heraldry at Fort Belvoir, Virginia.
Additional reporting by AP
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