Los Angeles Times

The Pentagon is anxious to get a hypersonic missile. But in weapons work, faster isn't always better

The next arms race could involve hypersonic missiles that travel five times faster than the speed of sound. To compete, U.S. development efforts have gone into hyperdrive.

Earlier this month, the Air Force awarded defense giant Lockheed Martin Corp. a contract worth as much as $480 million for crucial design review, test and production support for an air-launched "rapid response" weapon that could travel at speeds of Mach 5 or higher. That came on top of an even bigger Air Force contract award to the company in April with a maximum value of $928 million for a hypersonic "conventional strike" weapon.

Air Force officials, anxious about advances demonstrated by similar programs in Russia and China, have cheered the multiservice effort to accelerate hypersonics research

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