“This is absolutely serious,” Austin said, referring to the threat posed by Chinese and Russian hypersonic programs, according to a CEO who attended the virtual meeting. “We are now distracted by Russia, but China is the real threat.”
“We’ve decided that failure is bad,” Hyten said at the time. “No, failure is part of the learning process. And if you want to get back up to speed, you better figure out how to get back up to speed. [sic] and that means taking risks and that means learning from mistakes and that means failing quickly and acting quickly.”
Top executives from Lockheed Martin, Raytheon Technologies, Northrop Grumman, Boeing, Leidos, Aerojet Rocketdyne, BAE Systems, L3Harris and about half a dozen other defense companies were represented at Thursday’s meeting, chaired by Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks. It was not classified, but the participants agreed to meet in a classified session soon.
“We all need to get into a SCIF and do it face-to-face,” the CEO said.
Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon said in a read-only meeting Thursday night that “participants identified the need to expand access to modeling capabilities and testing facilities to adopt a ‘test often, fail quickly and learn’ approach that handling hypersonic and counter-hysonic systems.”
“These meetings with executives in key areas of innovation and modernization also help strengthen relationships and use a collaborative approach to disruption to accelerate the development of advanced capabilities and new operational concepts,” said Pahon.
The advances of China and Russia and recent failed tests have led the Pentagon to inject more urgency into the US program and increase the resources they devote to developing hypersonic weapons. The budget for FY22 committed $3.8 billion to hypersonic research, up from $3.2 billion the previous year.
This story was updated Thursday with additional information.