President Donald Trump on Friday boasted that the US military is developing a new “super duper” missile that he claimed can travel 17-times faster than anything in the current arsenal, a claim the Pentagon was unwilling to confirm.
“We are building, right now, incredible military equipment at a level that nobody has ever seen before. We have no choice. We have to do it – with the adversaries we have out there. We have a – I call it the ‘super-duper missile.’ And I heard the other night, 17 times faster than what they have right now,” Trump said at a White House event to sign the 2020 Armed Forces Day Proclamation.
Trump was speaking alongside some of the country’s top military leadership, including Defense Secretary Mark Esper and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley.
“You take the fastest missile we have right now – you’ve 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,” Trump added.
Despite the fact Trump made the seemingly off-the-cuff announcement alongside the Pentagon’s leadership, the department did not provide details of the weapon the President seemed to have unveiled.
After Trump made the remarks White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany was unable to elaborate and referred reporters to the Pentagon.
But when asked about the President’s apparent revealing of a new missile, the Defense Department declined to provide details or confirm that it could indeed travel 17-times faster than existing weapons.
More than four hours after Trump spoke, Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman did not directly address the President’s remarks but confirmed in a tweet that the Pentagon is developing hypersonic missiles which it defines as being able to travel five times the speed of sound.
“The Department of Defense is working on developing a range of hypersonic missiles to counter our adversaries,” Hoffman tweeted early Friday evening.
Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Robert Carver told CNN, “We will not discuss capabilities of any systems we may or may not have under development.”
Russia and China’s development of such weapons has caused concern amongst Pentagon planners as the weapons are much more difficult to detect using current tracking systems than traditional variants. Trump appears to have been referring to such Russian and Chinese efforts in his comments Friday.
“Fielding hypersonic weapons is a top technical research and engineering priority, and the United States has a robust program for the development of hypersonic weapon systems,” Carver said.
The goal of such weapons is to be able to better pierce an adversary’s defenses and strike targets deep inside enemy territory.
The Pentagon said it successfully tested “a hypersonic glide body,” a key component of a hypersonic missile in a flight experiment in March, saying that weapons provide “an ability to strike targets hundreds and even thousands of miles away, in a matter of minutes.”
On Friday, Trump was also presented with the newly unveiled flag of the US Space Force, the newest branch of the Armed Forces.