The latest test of a US hypersonic weapon failed after an “anomaly” occurred during the first test run of the complete system, the Pentagon said Thursday.
The test, carried out at the Pacific Missile Range Facility in the state of Hawaii, was supposed to launch the Common Hypersonic Glide Body, the US long-range hypersonic missile program, atop a two-stage missile booster.
The thruster is designed to launch the missile and accelerate it to hypersonic speeds in excess of Mach 5, at which point the glide body detaches and uses its speed to hit the target. It was the first time that the complete system was tested, called the All Up Round test.
The anomaly prevented the Defense Department from completing the entire test, but the Pentagon said it was not a complete failure.
“While the Department was unable to collect data on the entirety of the planned flight profile, the information collected from this event will provide vital information,” Pentagon Spokesperson Lt. Tim Gorman said in a statement. Gorman did not provide additional details about the nature of the anomaly or at what stage of testing it occurred.
Program officials will review the test to find out what failed and aid future testing, the lieutenant said.
“Hypersonic weapons delivery remains a priority and the Department remains confident that it is on track to field offensive and defensive hypersonic capabilities by the target dates set in 2020,” Gorman said.
The Pentagon has placed greater emphasis on developing hypersonic weapons after lawmakers became concerned that the US was falling behind the Chinese and Russian programs.
Last year, China successfully tested a hypersonic weapon that orbited the globe before hitting its target. More recently, Russia became the first nation to use hypersonic weapons in warfare when it launched its Iskander and Kinzhal missiles into Ukraine.
The flaw, first reported by Bloomberg, is another setback for the US in the race to develop and field hypersonic weapons, although the country has already successfully tested other hypersonic programs.
The earlier test of the Common Hypersonic Glide Body, a joint venture between the Navy and the Army, also ended prematurely when the booster rocket failed.
That test, conducted in October at the Pacific Spaceport Complex in Alaska, did not use the two-stage missile booster designed to be part of the system. Instead, it used a different propellant, but the failure meant that the test did not provide data on the missile, the main component needed for development.
In March, the Pentagon successfully tested the Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept (HAWC), but kept the test under wraps for two weeks to avoid escalating tensions with Russia as President Joe Biden was about to travel to Europe.
Source: CNN Brasil