“If you think missile defense is easy, think again, you’re shooting a bullet with a bullet, and that’s as good as it gets. It gets worse when the bullet is going 13 times the speed of sound and can maneuver and that is what hypersonics is,” Selva explained.
What’s more, he added that when an object flies faster than Mach 7, or hypersonic speeds, it becomes nearly impossible to track with the current technology the U.S. has deployed.
In short, a hypersonic weapon can travel further, faster, for longer and can maneuver itself which makes it all the more difficult to track and target. Additionally, some hypersonic weapons can be outfitted with nuclear weapons.
Earlier this year, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s boasted about new nuclear and hypersonic weapons, which he described as “invincible” during a state of the nation address.
The Kremlin’s hypersonic glide vehicle, dubbed Avangard, is designed to sit atop of an intercontinental ballistic missile. Once launched, it uses aerodynamic forces to sail on top of the atmosphere. According to sources with direct knowledge of American intelligence reports, Russia successfully tested the weapon, which could carry a nuclear warhead, twice in 2016.