Trump bragged about a weapon that doesn't appear to actually exist to a cheering crowd in Georgia

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Trump bragged about a weapon that doesn't appear to actually exist to a cheering crowd in Georgia
President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally for Senate Republican candidates in Valdosta, GA.AP Photo/Evan Vucci
  • President Donald Trump told a cheering crowd in Georgia that the US has both "hypersonic" and "hydrosonic" missiles.
  • While hypersonic missiles are a real thing and an area of great power competition between the US, Russia, and China, hydrosonic missiles are not, experts say.
  • Trump has for months confused the terms "hypersonic" and "hydrosonic," both of which he has previously replaced with the word "super duper."

President Donald Trump told a cheering crowd in Georgia on Saturday that the US has a missile that does not actually appear to exist.

"Brand new missiles and rockets, hypersonic missiles. We have hypersonic and hydrosonic," Trump said in Valdosta. "You know what hydrosonic is? Water."

"We have them all," he continued. "We have missiles that can go seven times faster than any missile in the world." As he finished these remarks, the crowd loudly chanted "USA, USA, USA!"

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For months, Trump has repeatedly botched his boasts about "hypersonic" missiles, calling them "hydrosonic" missiles instead. He also calls them "super duper" missiles because, as he explained in September, that is easier to understand. The president has at times, though, successfully called them by their proper name.

"Hydrosonic" is the name of a kind of electric toothbrush made by Curaprox. Trump's remarks aside, the top hits for "hydrosonic" on Google are the toothbrush.

Rather than correct course, the president is now insisting the US has both "hypersonic" and "hydrosonic" missiles. Hans Kristensen, a nuclear weapons expert with the Federation for American Scientists, told Insider in October that the "hydrosonic" missile "only exists inside Trump's head."

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Hypersonic missiles, however, are real and are a growing area of competition between the US and its rivals, China and Russia.

Trump's descriptions of the super duper/hypersonic/hydrosonic missiles, which appear to be the "superfast" missiles he talked about in February, has changed repeatedly over time.

"We have the superfast missiles - tremendous number of the superfast. We call them 'superfast,' where they're four, five, six, and even seven times faster than an ordinary missile," he said in February. "We need that because, again, Russia has some. And China, as you know, is doing it."

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"We have - I call it, the 'super duper missile,'" Trump said in May. "I heard the other night, 17 times faster than what they have right now."

In June, he said that the US has "a hypersonic missile that goes 17 times faster than the fastest missile currently available in the world." The similarity between these remarks and what he said in May suggests the "super duper" missile is a "hypersonic" missile, though the president would later use "super duper" and "hydrosonic" interchangeably.

In July, a senior defense official told CNN that Trump's "super duper missile" is a reference to the hypersonic glide body that the Pentagon successfully tested in March. The glide body, which will be used to develop future hypersonic weaponry, flew at around 17 times the speed of sound, which is very different from being 17 times faster than the fastest missile.

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In October, Trump reduced the speed of the missile while telling a crowd in Michigan about the "super-duper" missile.

"They go very fast. Hydrosonic," he said. "Super dupers. They go five to seven times faster than the fastest missile in the world. They go so fast you can't do anything."

In another speech that same month, he told his supporters in Arizona that the "hydrosonic" missiles "go seven times faster than a normal missile." He added that "we have the best hydrosonic in the world."

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Despite the emphasis on the speed of the weapons, hypersonic missiles are particularly deadly because they are maneuverable and can fly along unpredictable flight paths, making it very difficult for traditional missile-defense systems to intercept them before they strike.

The US armed forces do not currently have a deployable hypersonic weapon, but the military is expected to begin fielding them on various air, land, and sea platforms in the coming years.

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