Mikoyan MiG-31K fighter jet with Kinzhal hypersonic missiles flies over Moscow's Red Square. Photo: Alexei Nikolsky\TASS via Getty Images

The United States is falling behind in the hypersonic arms race as China and Russia outpace the rest in developing "a maneuverable missile that could fly many times the speed of sound and strike anywhere in the world within an hour or two," the Washington Post writes on the cover of Sunday business, citing senior military officials.

Why it matters: The U.S. prides itself on being one of, if not, the strongest military in the world. And while the Pentagon has made this development a top priority, falling behind to obtain a major weapon of war in the future, is not an option to stay competitive.

The details of the weapon: The Post explains that "like conventional missiles, hypersonics move very fast, at least five times the speed of sound, or 1 to 5 miles per second. Because they move so quickly, hypersonic missiles can stay relatively low, avoiding detection. Unlike ballistic missiles, which follow a fixed and therefore predictable trajectory, hypersonic missiles can maneuver, making them difficult to defend against."

The latest: A $1 billion contract with Lockheed Martin was announced by the Air Force, "to design and build a hypersonic vehicle."

  • Boeing isn't letting up on the race as it announced plans to invest in a British company that specializes in "advanced propulsion systems that could power a hypersonic vehicle."

What they're saying: "The United States is not yet doing all that we need to do to respond to hypersonic missile threats," Michael Griffin, the new undersecretary for research and engineering, said in a recent speech. "I did not take this job to reach parity with adversaries. I want to make them worry about catching up with us again," per the Post.

  • Griffin said earlier this year that our direct competitors with two of the world's strongest militaries, Russia and China, have intense development programs that "are observably ahead of where our current state of practice is," arguing, "we’re playing catch-up ball."

The big picture: Todd Harrison, a defense analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told the Post: "The real race is here if our adversaries develop and deploy hypersonic missiles before we have effective defenses against them."

Go deeper

25 mins ago - Podcasts

The art and business of political polling

The election is just eight days away, and it’s not just the candidates whose futures are on the line. Political pollsters, four years after wrongly predicting a Hillary Clinton presidency, are viewing it as their own judgment day.

Axios Re:Cap digs into the polls, and what pollsters have changed since 2016, with former FiveThirtyEight writer and current CNN politics analyst Harry Enten.

Twitter launches warnings on election misinformation and delays

Photo: courtesy of Twitter

Twitter will start pinning notices to the top of all U.S. Twitter users’ timelines warning that results in next week’s election may be delayed and that they may encounter misinformation on mail-in voting.

Why it matters: Delayed election results are expected across many states that are handling unprecedented amounts of absentee and mailed ballots, which President Trump has baselessly called "very dangerous" and "corrupt."

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
3 hours ago - Science

NASA confirms water exists on sunny parts of the Moon

Photo: NASA/JPL/USGS

Water on the Moon might be more easily accessible than previously thought, opening up new possible avenues for future human exploration, according to a new study.

Why it matters: NASA is aiming to send people back to the Moon as part of its Artemis program by 2024, with plans to eventually create a sustainable presence on the lunar surface. That sustainability relies on mining the moon for its resources, like water.