The US military conducted a successful test launch of a rocket with experiments for the development of hypersonic weapons at the Wallops Flight Test Facility in Virginia on Wednesday.
The rocket conducted 11 different experiments designed to test and collect data for hypersonic weapons research in support of the Army-Navy program, the Navy said.
This is the second test conducted in a program focused on the development of both sea and land hypersonic capabilities. The first test will be held in October 2021.
In this test, the sound rocket is fired from the launchpad, conducting different experiments to collect data and gather information about the components of the hypersonic missile, including heat-resistant materials and advanced electronics.
“Today’s launch was fantastic,” said Vice Adm. Johnny Wolfe, director of the Strategic Systems Program who oversaw the test. “Actually, we’ve just seen the observables, and every piece of data we’ve wanted to collect — at least before — has shown that we’re collecting all that data.”
The second rocket is scheduled to launch on Thursday and will conduct 13 additional experiments designed to inform the development of hypersonic weapons, the Navy said.
The data collected from these tests will help develop the Navy’s Prompt Strike Conventional hypersonic system and the Army’s Long Range Hypersonic Weapon. The two programs will both use the Common Hypersonic Glide Body, a projectile carried on top of a rocket booster that coasts towards its target at speeds greater than Mach 5.
Hypersonic weapons travel at speeds greater than Mach 5, or approximately 4,000 miles per hour, making them difficult to detect and intercept in time. The missiles can also maneuver and vary in altitude, allowing them to evade missile defense systems.
The Pentagon has made the development of hypersonic weapons one of its top priorities after China conducted a successful hypersonic launch last year and Russia has begun 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 important technological event” that is just one element of China’s military capabilities.
“China’s military capabilities are greater than that” single test, Milley said in October 2021. “They are expanding rapidly in space, in cyber and then in the traditional domains of land, sea and air.”
Russia and China are ahead of the US in hypersonic missile technology. This is the reason