Russia must restart the development of hypersonic weapons to respond to US advances in the field, Acting Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin says.
To be completed by 2015, Washington's research activities linked to hypersonic weapons represents an especially serious threat to Russia, Rogozin said during a visit to the state-owned Raduga Bereznyak missile design bureau at Dubna in the Moscow region.
Rogozin, who has responsibility in the Russian government for the military-industrial complex, cites the USA's Falcon, HiFire, HyFly and X-51 programmes as proof of the potential future threat posed by operational hypersonic weapons, which he believes could be available from 2015-2018.
"The undertaking of this work allows us to lay the basis for setting up a national competitor," he says.
Raduga and NPO Mashinostroeniye respectively carried out research work into the GELA and Meteorit hypersonic weapons during the Soviet era, but did not go on to produce working systems following a political decision taken in the late 1980s.
Rogozin describes this decision as "a treasonable act to our national interests", and claims that the USSR at that time had a lead over the USA in many areas of hypersonic research.
"Sadly today we see Russia lags noticeably in this sphere," he says. "Hypersonic missiles have significant advantages in terms of reaction times, invulnerability to existing and future air defence systems, long range and high altitude and kinetic energy."
Earlier this year India announced a joint project with Russia's NPO Mashinostroeniye to build a hypersonic successor to its BrahMos supersonic cruise missile.