WASHINGTON — So here is how it works.
President Trump holds an Oval Office event to unfurl the flag of the new U.S. Space Force, during which he boasts about how the Pentagon is developing a “super-duper missile” that can travel 17 times the speed of current weapons.
He provides no details and Defense Secretary Mark Esper, standing stiffly to the president’s right, nods tentatively each time Trump looks at him.
Shortly thereafter, Pentagon reporters assemble for a briefing and ask Pentagon spokesperson Jonathan Rath Hoffman for more information on what exactly the president was talking about.
He punted back across the Potomac River. “I’m going to have to refer you back to the White House on that. I don’t have any information to give you on that,” Hoffman said.
Next up was a briefing in the White House press room, where a reporter noted the Pentagon’s referral for information on the super-duper to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and asked White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany to explain what it was.
She punted as well.
“I would just refer you back to the president’s remarks and the Pentagon,” she said. “I don’t have any new information on that at this point.”
Best guess: the president was referring to a hypersonic missile under development that could travel five times the speed of sound. However, while the president boasted the U.S. is far ahead of adversaries with the super-duper, Pentagon officials have admitted the U.S. trails China and Russia in hypersonic development.
Esper did not mention the super-duper in his Friday tweets, focusing instead on the boast that the Pentagon will deliver “by the end of this year a vaccine at scale.”