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Washington, D.C. – U.S. Representative Doug Lamborn (R-CO), Chairman of the Strategic Forces Subcommittee, delivered the following opening remarks at a hearing on U.S. and adversary hypersonic programs.  

Rep. Lamborn’s remarks as prepared for delivery:

The Strategic Forces subcommittee meets today to review U.S. and adversary hypersonic capabilities.

Good morning to our witness – Mr. White, Mr. Horowitz, Lieutenant General Rasch, Vice Admiral Wolfe, Lieutenant General Shipton, and Mr. Freisthler.

And, Mr. White, we understand you will be leaving this role soon, and this will be your last appearance before Congress. We want to thank you for your years of service and express our appreciation for all that you’ve done.

This is the first time this subcommittee has conducted a hearing on hypersonic capabilities. Given the magnitude of the threats posed by China and Russia and our relatively slow pace of development, I think this is far overdue.

With that in mind, we appreciate you being with us here today to share your expertise to address these challenges.

Before we begin, I believe it’s useful to revisit the history of hypersonic weapons development.

Despite leading the development of this technology in the 1970s and 80s, the United States foolishly decided not to pursue hypersonic weapons.

Russia and China made the opposite decision. Instead of mimicking our restraint as we hoped, they developed and deployed increasingly sophisticated and numerous hypersonic capabilities of various types – including nuclear-capable and orbital hypersonic weapons.

As a result, our adversaries have the advantage and their hypersonic capabilities provide them novel ways to hold our homeland and our deployed forces at risk. This is not about them having a capability we do not. There are inherent and compelling advantages that hypersonic systems have that could bolster our military plans and capabilities. Retired General John Hyten said once that hypersonic weapons enable “responsive, long-range, strike options against distant, defended, and/or time-critical threats when other forces are unavailable, denied access, or not preferred.”

We are behind, and I am concerned we are not doing enough to close the gap as our adversaries continue to test and develop new capabilities at a much faster rate.

This is an instructive lesson, and it reminds all of us about the risks that come with giving up the advantage, as well as the difficulty that comes with trying to recover it.

So, we have our work cut out for us.

But, we have taken steps in the right direction. Particularly over the last two years, Congress has provided additional resources to accelerate the development of hypersonic capabilities and upgrade the necessary test infrastructure. We have worked with the Department of Defense to formalize initiatives that we included in the NDAA, such as the National Hypersonics Initiative and Hypersonic Asymmetric Defeat Strategy. We look forward to receiving these documents from the Department.

The President’s decision last week to authorize the Defense Production Act to invest in our hypersonics industrial base was a welcome step. I do 3 have questions as to how it will be used and on what specific technologies and components. Hopefully, our witnesses will provide some clarity.

Despite this positive development, there is a lot more must be done, and I intend for this subcommittee to play a key role in the effort – starting with today’s hearing.

Welcome, again, to our witnesses. We look forward to hearing from you about your efforts to develop these capabilities, and how this subcommittee can be helpful.

I now recognize Ranking Member Moulton for his opening comments.

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