The Falls Church-based company Kingfisher has recently published an interesting paper on hypersonic weapons. This is the kind of work that the Pentagon’s Office of Net Assessment used to do. In the 2000s, Andy Marshall funded research into areas of technological competition with China, precisely to assess what they were working on and where they were ahead of the U.S. Kingfisher has done this using open source materials and large databases but using essentially the same approach.
Open sources can be a valuable source of information. Kingfisher has developed a system for exploiting the mass of open source data available even from relatively opaque countries such as China and North Korea. The ability of their technology, VARYSS, to exploit large masses of data rapidly is impressive. The paper provides interesting results on the competition in hypersonics-related technologies.
There are always questions of whether open source information accurately reflects the state of classified research. Some security scholars believe it does, but others differ.
In the meantime there are growing concerns that lots of Chinese academic scientific papers are fraudulent. This might mean that the Chinese are not as far along as we might fear.
We commend this paper to your attention and hope you find it valuable. Please find the full report as a PDF here.
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