Pentagon: Russian hypersonic weapon use in Ukraine not a game-changer


Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley on Wednesday said Russia’s use of hypersonic missiles in Ukraine has not had “significant or game-changing effects” in the war.

“The Russians have used several hypersonic missiles,” Milley told lawmakers during a House Appropriations Defense subcommittee hearing. 

“Obviously, the distinguishing factor of a hypersonic missile is the speed at which it travels . . . but other than the speed of the weapon – in terms of its effect on a given target – we are not seeing really significant or game-changing effects to date with the delivery of the small number of hypersonics that the Russians have used,” he noted. 

A day earlier, a senior U.S. defense official told reporters that Russia has used about 10 to 12 hypersonic weapons in Ukraine since its attack on the country began on Feb. 24. The official did not give specific dates and locations of the launches.  

U.S. European Commander Tod Wolters in late March told the Senate Armed Services Committee that Russia has launched “multiple” hypersonics in Ukraine, with most directed toward military targets. 

On Wednesday Milley said the use of the hypersonic weapons was the first time such munitions had ever been used in combat. 

He noted that Pentagon officials “have analyzed each of these shots that they’ve taken,” but he would only discuss such details in a classified session with lawmakers.  

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who testified alongside Milley, also confirmed Russia had used hypersonic weapons several times in the conflict. He noted that Russian President Vladimir Putin used such weapons “weeks ago,” but that the launches were “not a major game changer to this point.” 

Asked whether he thought Putin’s hypersonic use ups the potential for use of nuclear weapons, Austin said he thinks it would not “cause him to be willing to elevate to use a nuclear weapon.”  

“I think he’s trying to create a specific effect with the use of that weapon,” Austin said, referring to hypersonics. “He has options . . . he can launch a cyberattack and employ chemical weapons, those kinds of things that we’re all on the lookout for to see if he makes those kinds of decisions. But I don’t think that this necessarily takes him to the use of a nuclear weapon.” 

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