Trump says US will beat out Russia and China with ‘super duper missile’
Development of missile comes as US president’s rhetoric has fueled fears of a new nuclear arms race
Unveiling the flag for his new space force in the Oval Office on Friday, Donald Trump said the US was developing a “super duper missile” to outpace military rivals including Russia and China.
“We have no choice, we have to do it with the adversaries we have out there. We have, I call it the super duper missile and I heard the other night [it’s] 17 times faster than what they have right now,” the president said, sitting at the Resolute Desk.
“That’s right,” said the defense secretary, Mark Esper, standing to Trump’s right.
“You take the fastest missile we have right now,” Trump said. “You heard Russia has five times and China’s working on five or six times, we have one 17 times and it’s just got the go-ahead.”
Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, has indeed announced a hypersonic nuclear missile, meaning one that flies at five times the speed of sound (767mph) or faster.
According to Bloomberg News, Putin has said his Avangard missiles can “travel at up to 20 times the speed of sound, like a ‘meteorite’ or a ‘fireball’”.
“Not a single country possesses hypersonic weapons, let alone continental-range hypersonic weapons,” Putin told military chiefs in December, according to Bloomberg. “They’re trying to catch up with us.”
The US tested its own hypersonic missile last year but on Friday Trump, whose public rhetoric and withdrawal from key treaties have fuelled fears of a new nuclear arms race, seemed to allude to new technology. A report released this week detailed accelerated US spending on nuclear weapons.
Trump’s desire to build a new and cosmic arm of the US military has attracted widespread criticism and satire. In perhaps the most extreme example, Netflix will soon release an eponymous comedy starring Steve Carell and John Malkovich.
The fallout from Friday’s event in the Oval Office might have been more reminiscent of HBO’s hit satire Veep.
According to the Hill, reporters raised the “super duper missile” during a Pentagon press call. Despite Esper’s apparent confirmation of the “super duper missile”, a spokesman referred questions back to the White House.