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Trump vows U.S. missile defence in space, as Chinese hypersonic tech advances

Trump vows U.S. missile defence in space, as Chinese hypersonic tech advances

The administration's Missile Defense Review is the first such program since 2010. Though the US and North Korea are conducting peace talks, the two have remained wary of one another's missile capabilities and Trump's hardline stance against Iran has only inflamed tensions between the USA and the Middle East's largest missile power.

The Trump administration is seeking to expand the scope and sophistication of American missile defenses on a scale not seen since President Ronald Reagan's "Star Wars" initiative in a new strategy that President Donald Trump rolled out personally on Thursday alongside military leaders at the Pentagon.

China is also seeking the technology, with the US Defense Intelligence Agency publishing a report Tuesday saying China's military "is developing a range of technologies to counter US and other countries' ballistic missile defense systems", including maneuverable re-entry vehicles, decoys and hypersonic glide vehicles.

These technologies could help detect an enemy missile launch sooner and shoot it down in space, or possibly even as the missile is launching.

Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence have both emphasised space-based capabilities as the next step of missile defence.

The United States also is pursuing hypersonic missiles for strike operations after decades of shunning the weaponization of the high-speed weapons. The Russian leader argued at the time that his campaign to modernize Moscow's military might came in response to world powers ignoring Russian interests, arguing, "You will listen to us now".

"Our goal is simple: To be sure we can detect and destroy any missile launched against the United States, anywhere, any time, and any place", Trump said.

Tom Karako, a missile defense expert with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said if the Department of Defense doesn't get its funding set up in this next budget, it may never get want it wants in terms of nuclear weapons and interceptors.

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Trump told reporters, adding later, "If we don't make a deal, I would say 100 percent but I don't want to say 100 percent". That's according to a congressional aide familiar with the matter who was not authorized to speak publicly.

Asked about the implications of the new strategy for Trump's efforts to improve relations with Russian Federation and strike better trade relations with China, the administration official said that the U.S. capabilities are purely defensive and that the USA has been very candid with Moscow and Beijing about its missile defence posture.

Current U.S. missile defense weapons are based on land and aboard ships.

China, in turn, has also alarmed the Pentagon with advances in super-fast "hypersonic" technology, which could allow Beijing to field missiles that are far harder to detect.

"If deterrence fails and conflict with a rogue state or within a region ensues, US attack operations supporting missile defense will degrade, disrupt, or destroy an adversary's missiles before they are launched", the report said noting that that concept is part of a new comprehensive missile defense strategy that would reduce the number of missiles that would be need to be struck during flight or at the end of their flight. "China is also developing increasingly sophisticated ballistic missile warheads and hypersonic glide vehicles in an attempt to counter ballistic missile defense systems". One senior administration official explained to reporters in a conference call Wednesday that a "significant change to the threat environment" has been seen in recent years.

Yet Acting Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan, speaking prior to Trump, said the Pentagon is making a policy shift to integrate offensive and defensive capabilities.

The plan represents a marked shift from the aftermath of the Cold War, in which US missile plans were limited to building devices that could intercept missiles launched by rogue states, like North Korea or Iran.

Officials say the doctrine, initially expected in 2017, has been frequently rewritten to keep up with changing missile threats posed by North Korea, China, Russia and Iran. It is still considered a serious threat to America.

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