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Surface Navy 2022: CR could delay hypersonics development, CNO says

A congressional continuing resolution (CR) to freeze federal funding could delay the development of hypersonic weapons that are part of the Pentagon's conventional prompt strike concept, according to Admiral Michael Gilday, the US Navy (USN) chief of naval operations (CNO).

Speaking about a potential CR during a question-and-answer session on 11 January at the Surface Navy Association National Symposium, which started the same day in Arlington, Virginia, Adm Gilday said, “What that will do to us in this decade of urgency with programmes like hypersonics, it will slow us down. It will break faith with the industrial base. It will break faith with the sailors, who are preparing to operate these systems.”

Industry has been working with its own sense of urgency to meet the US hypersonics needs, being developed under a joint USN-US Army programme, he noted.

“Small companies are out there, working seven days a week,” he said. “Some, 24 hours a day, to grind out the technology. This would potentially leave them in a lurch in 2022.”

The CNO said he has become optimistic about hypersonic development. “Every test has gone extremely well. Conventional prompt strike has exceeded every benchmark or milestone over the last couple of the years. It's a very healthy programme.”

For the moment, plans remain on track for an army-fielded system in 2023, he added. “Our goal is to put hypersonics on [guided-missile destroyer USS] Zumwalt in 2025 and on Virginia-class submarines in 2028.”

Development of a hypersonics weapon would address what Rear Admiral Paul Schlise, the USN Surface Warfare director, said is the navy's biggest vulnerability – developing longer-range strike.

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