US President Donald Trump has invoked the Defense Production Act- a wartime executive power granting the Whitehouse the authority to mobilize US industry – saying that without presidential guidance, US industry “cannot reasonably be expected” to produce the materials necessary for hypersonic weapons development both”adequately and in a timely manner.”
The Defense Production Act of 1950, will allow the Whitehouse to also channel a part of civilian industry’s production efforts to hypersonic weapons components.
“I hereby determine, pursuant to section 303(a)(5) of the Act, that the industrial base production capability for ultra-high and high temperature composites for hypersonic, strategic missile, and space launch systems is essential to the national defense,” Trump said in the directive.
“Without Presidential action under section 303 of the Act, United States industry cannot reasonably be expected to provide the production capability for ultra-high and high temperature composites for hypersonic, strategic missile, and space launch systems adequately and in a timely manner,” the order continues. “Further, purchases, purchase commitments, or other action pursuant to section 303 of the Act are the most cost-effective, expedient, and practical alternative method for meeting the need for this critical capability.”
Russia and China have also been developing the Mach 5-capable weapon system.
Hypersonic missiles have a high degree of maneuverability and are believed to be quasi invulnerable to anti-air defenses as well as very difficult to spot through traditional ballistic missile detection methods.
Last month, Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman tweeted the US was “working on developing a range of hypersonic missiles to counter our adversaries.”
While the Hypersonic Conventional Strike Weapon (HCSW) was canceled in February in a budget battle, its developer, Lockheed Martin, has been reportedly pushing ahead with another hypersonic weapon, the AGM-183A Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW).
On June 13, 2017, Trump also invoked the Defense Production Act, saying that “critical technology items affecting aerospace structures and fibers, radiation-hardened microelectronics, radiation test and qualification facilities, and satellite components and assemblies are critical to national defense.”