Talking about U.S. military might, President Donald Trump said “We have built a nuclear, a weapon, I have built a weapon system that nobody’s ever had in this country before,”. “We have stuff that you haven’t even seen or heard about. “There’s nobody. What we have is incredible.” Some weapon experts think he may have been talking about a nuclear warhead that was modified to reduce its explosive power. Known as the W76-2, this weapon certainly is unknown to the general public — not because of secrecy or mystery but because of its obscurity. “We have some systems that nobody knows about. And, frankly,” he said.
James Acton, a nuclear expert, said that Trump may have been referring to the W76-2 warhead. Although its existence was not a secret, the timing of its first deployment was. The warhead is on the business end of a Trident II D-5 missile carried aboard Navy ballistic missile submarines.
The W76-2 weapon itself is not revolutionary. It’s not even the only low-yield warhead in the U.S. arsenal. It is, however, the first major addition to the strategic nuclear force in recent decades.
Trump occasionally mentions his interest in hypersonic weapons, sometimes without using the term. Details of these weapons’ planned capabilities are mostly classified. In February, Trump said: “We have the super-fast missiles — tremendous number of the super-fast. We call them ‘super-fast,’ where they’re four, five, six and even seven times faster than an ordinary missile. We need that because, again, Russia has some.”
A hypersonic weapon is one that flies at speeds in excess of Mach 5, or five times the speed of sound. Most American missiles, such as those launched from aircraft to hit other aircraft or ground targets, travel between Mach 1 and Mach 5, although the Minuteman 3 intercontinental ballistic missile, which has operated for decades, can reach hypersonic speeds.