Hyperventilating Over Hypersonics

Last summer, China tested a hypersonic missile that traveled through orbit. The test shocked many observers and led to widespread concern about the potential for nuclear-armed missiles that can evade detection and defense systems. The technology is not as new as it might seem, but this latest test highlights an underlying threat that the world has been living with for decades.

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Host
  • Gabrielle Sierra
    Director, Podcasting
Credits

Asher Ross - Supervising Producer

Markus Zakaria - Audio Producer and Sound Designer

Rafaela Siewert - Associate Podcast Producer

Episode Guests
  • Adam Mount
    Senior Fellow and Director, Federation of American Scientists
  • Laura Grego
    Stanton Nuclear Security Fellow, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Show Notes

Last summer, U.S. intelligence services reported that China tested a new hypersonic missile. These missiles are maneuverable, nuclear-capable, and use what is known as a fractional orbital bombardment system (FOBS). U.S. officials are increasingly wary of an emerging arms race as Russia and China expand their missile and nuclear capabilities. These advancements complicate deterrence logic and could sway military policy. With a hefty price to compete in this arena, experts debate the merits of the United States emulating its adversaries.

 

From CFR 

 

Michael C. Horowitz and Lauren A. Kahn, “DoD’s 2021 China Military Power Report: How Advances in AI and Emerging Technologies Will Shape China’s Military

 

From Laura Grego 

 

Rush Hour In Orbit: The Science (and Politics) of Keeping Satellites Safe,” Got Science?, Union of Concerned Scientists

 

Some pretty good work by Congress on missile defense this year,” All Things Nuclear, Union of Concerned Scientists

 

A nuclear arms race is unavoidable without serious intervention,” Financial Times

 

From Adam Mount

 

What Is the Sole Purpose of U.S. Nuclear Weapons?, Federation of American Scientists 

 

Adam Mount and Pranay Vaddi, An Integrated Approach to Deterrence Posture [PDF],  Federation of American Scientists

 

Read More

 

De-hyping China’s Missile Test,” All Things Nuclear, Union of Concerned Scientists

 

China tests new space capability with hypersonic missile,” Financial Times

 

China’s Orbital Bombardment System Is Big, Bad News—but Not a Breakthrough,” Foreign Policy

 

Russia Goes Hypersonic,” Situation Report, Foreign Policy

 

Hypersonic Missiles Are Unstoppable. And They’re Starting a New Global Arms Race.,” New York Times 

 

Behind murky claim of a new hypersonic missile test, there lies a very real arms race,” NPR

 

Visual explainer: How China’s hypersonic missile compares to conventional ballistic weapons,” USA Today

 

Watch and Listen

 

Hypersonic Missiles Arms Race: What You Need to Know,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

 

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