The House Armed Services Committee (HASC) on Wednesday approved an amendment to its mark for the next defense policy bill proposing the Pentagon establish a new office to coordinate technical priorities for hypersonics weapons projects across the services.

The amendment from the Intelligence and Emerging Threats and Capabilities (ITEC) subcommittee included in HASC’s markup of the fiscal year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act calls for the new office to collaboratively fund certain hypersonics technologies to speed up transition of new capabilities to the services’ respective weapons systems.

Low angled view of the U.S. Capitol East Facade Front in Washington, DC.

Under the provision, the secretary of defense would have 180 days to from NDAA’s passage to deliver a roadmap for standing up the new Joint Hypersonics Transition Office.

The joint services are currently collectively working on the hypersonics effort, signing a memorandum of agreement last June, with the Army taking on the task of producing the glide body.

Lt. Gen. Neil Thurgood, the Army’s director of hypersonics, told reporters last week the service was set to deliver an initial hypersonic weapon in FY ’23 (Defense Daily, June 4).

The office’s director would report to the Pentagon’s current assistant director of hypersonics and would be tasked with establishing a consortium of universities to lead foundational hypersonic research.

Additional ITEC amendments HASC approved Wednesday include limiting the defense secretary’s ability to transfer functions from the Strategic Capabilities to other organizations unless approved and requesting a briefing from the Air Force on its Kessel Run agile software development program’s ability to leverage commercial capabilities.

Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), the subcommittee’s ranking member, had an amendment withdrawn that may be considered during a floor vote that would’ve had added “security” to the under secretary of defense for intelligence’s title.  

“Advanced adversary nations seek to exploit the open nature of American society and the globally connected telecommunications infrastructure to steal defense information through illicit espionage as well as legal methods of technology transfer,” Stefanik wrote in her amendment, noting a need for a senior official to coordinate DoD’s security activities.

HASC lawmakers continued marking their proposal past deadline with plans to discuss a space force proposal and an amendment from Ranking Member Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) to increase the topline to $750 billion.