Defense officials have revealed to CNN details about the hypersonic missile President Donald Trump has long touted as a "super duper" new military weapon -- part of a major effort to catch up to Russian and Chinese hypersonic weapons programs.
Pentagon officials acknowledged for the first time some of the capabilities of the hypersonic missile, which Trump has described as traveling 17 times the speed of sound.
A senior defense official has told CNN that Trump has taken a special interest in the missile, revealing that Trump's oft-cited "17 times" faster figure derives from a test of a "hypersonic glide body" over the Pacific in March, a test that the Pentagon officially described as "successful" while revealing little additional information.
"What he was referring to, really, was the recent flight test that we've performed in March where we flew 17 times the speed of sound," the senior defense official said.
But the American effort still lags years behind those of Moscow and Beijing's already fielded weapons systems, with a US missile unlikely to be fielded until 2023.
Hypersonic missiles are traditionally defined as missiles that travel at least five times the speed of sound, which is more than 3,800 miles per hour, and are considered highly maneuverable and capable of operating at varying altitudes.
Trump has touted the missile being developed by the Pentagon on at least three separate occasions, referring to it as "a super duper" missile capable of traveling 17 times faster than anything currently in the US missile arsenal. (end of excerpt)
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