US military tests launch of hypersonic experiments for weapons development
The US military conducted a successful test launch of a rocket with experiments for hypersonic weapons development at the Wallops Flight Test Facility in Virginia on Wednesday.
The rocket carried 11 different experiments designed to test and collect data for hypersonic weapons research to support the joint Army-Navy program, the Navy said.
This was the second test carried out under the program focused on the development of land and sea hypersonic capabilities. The first test was carried out in October 2021.
In this test, a sounding rocket was fired from the launch pad, performing different experiments to collect data and gather information about hypersonic missile components, including heat-resistant materials and high-end electronics .
“Today’s launch went extremely well,” said Vice Admiral Johnny Wolfe, director of strategic systems programs who oversaw the test. “We actually just finished going through our main observables, and every piece of data we wanted to collect – at least in a preliminary way – showed that we collected all of this data.”
A second rocket is scheduled to launch Thursday and will perform 13 additional experiments designed to inform the development of hypersonic weapons, the Navy said.
The data collected from these tests will aid in the development of the Navy’s Conventional Prompt Strike hypersonic system and the Army’s long-range hypersonic weapon. The two programs will both use the Common Hypersonic Glide Body, a projectile carried atop a booster rocket that travels toward its target at speeds in excess of Mach 5.
Hypersonic weapons travel at speeds in excess of Mach 5, or about 4,000 miles per hour, making them difficult to detect and intercept in time. Missiles can also maneuver and vary altitude, allowing them to evade missile defense systems.
The Pentagon has made hypersonic weapons development one of its top priorities after China successfully conducted hypersonic launches last year and Russia began using hypersonic missiles in its war in Ukraine.
After China tested a hypersonic weapon in 2021, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley called the test “a very significant technological event” that is just one element of the capabilities China’s military.
“China’s military capabilities are far beyond that,” Milley said in October 2021. “They’re growing rapidly in space, in cyberspace, and then in the traditional land, sea, and air domains. .”
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