* The fiscal year 2020 defense budget, passed by Congress in late December, included extra funding for a variety of hypersonic weapon projects that the Pentagon is pursuing to keep pace with great power competitors.
The systems--which will travel at speeds greater than Mach 5 and be highly maneuverable to thwart enemy missile defenses --are the Defense Department's No. 1 research-and-development priority and have received strong backing from lawmakers. The United States is in a race with China and Russia, which are pursuing their own programs.
In a newsletter, Jim McAleese, founder of McAleese & Associates, said there was a "micro-flurry of hypersonic plus-ups" in the 2020 omnibus appropriations bill, which President Donald Trump signed into law just before Christmas. That includes an "eye-popping" $100 million to support the Joint Hypersonics Transition Office and the stand-up of a consortium of universities to facilitate research-and-development work.
The Army's long-range hypersonic weapon program received $404 million, a "beefy" plus-up of $130 million, McAleese noted.
About $390 million was appropriated for test-and-evaluation infrastructure for high-tech weapons including an additional $20 million for hypersonic test facilities and $45 million for ground testing in support of the National Defense Strategy, according to McAleese.
The budget also fully funds and provides an additional $145 million to develop a common hypersonic glide body, according to a congressional summary of the legislation.
All of the services are pursuing hypersonics capabilities. The Air Force's air-launched rapid response weapon, or ARRW, and hypersonic conventional strike weapon, or HCSW, were fully funded to the tune of $576 million. Its aerospace vehicle technologies R&D program received an additional $10 million for "hypersonic vehicle structures," while the manufacturing technology program received $28 million in...