US Department of Defense successfully tests hypersonic glide body
The US Department of Defense (DOD) has completed a successful test of a hypersonic glide body that will be the basis for a future class of hypersonic weapons. The US Army and US Navy jointly launched the Common Hypersonic Glide Body (C-HGB) from the Pacific Missile Range Facility on the island of Kauai, Hawaii, on March 19 in what the DOD describers as "a major milestone towards the department's goal of fielding hypersonic warfighting capabilities in the early- to mid-2020s."
Hypersonic missiles that travel at Mach 5 (3,800 mph, 6,125 km/h) and above are a potential game-changers for military planners. A strategic or tactical warhead flying at varying altitudes at over five times the speed of sound can stroll past current defenses before they have a chance to detect, track, or counter them. As a result, the major and middling military powers are keen on developing hypersonic weapons, as well as hypersonic interceptors to counter them.
According to the DOD, the recent test of the ground-launched C-HGB saw it reaching hypersonic speeds before hitting its designated impact point. During the exercise, the US Missile Defense Agency monitored the vehicle's telemetry data, which will be used in developing weapon systems for countering hostile hypersonic missiles as well as general hypersonic technology.
"This test builds on the success we had with Flight Experiment 1 in October 2017, in which our C-HGB achieved sustained hypersonic glide at our target distances," says Vice-Admiral Johnny R. Wolfe, Director, Navy's Strategic Systems Programs. "In this test, we put additional stresses on the system and it was able to handle them all, due to the phenomenal expertise of our top-notch team of individuals from across government, industry, and academia. Today we validated our design and are now ready to move to the next phase towards fielding a hypersonic strike capability."
Part of the DOD's goal of fielding hypersonic weapons by the mid-2020s, the C-HGB is being developed by the Navy, Army, and private industry. It is a common hypersonic platform that will use a conventional warhead, guidance system, cabling, and thermal protection shield. This will then be adapted for each armed service's individual weapons and launchers for use on land or sea.
"Hypersonic systems deliver transformational warfighting capability," says Mike White, Assistant Director, Hypersonics, OUSD Research and Engineering (Modernization). "The glide body tested today is now ready for transition to Army and Navy weapon system development efforts and is one of several applications of hypersonic technology underway across the Department."
Source: Department of Defense