The US scrapped a test on Wednesday of what’s meant to be the Army’s first hypersonic missile in its arsenal, a setback as the US looks to catch up with China for a crucial weapon of the future.
(Bloomberg) — The US scrapped a test on Wednesday of what’s meant to be the Army’s first hypersonic missile in its arsenal, a setback as the US looks to catch up with China for a crucial weapon of the future.
“The department planned to conduct a flight test at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida to inform our hypersonic technology development but as a result of pre-flight checks the test did not occur,” the Defense Department said in a statement to Bloomberg News, referring to the Long-Range Hypersonic Weapon.
It didn’t say what led the test to be canceled. Yet the decision raises questions about the program’s schedule and whether the Army can meet its goal of declaring the weapon initially combat capable by Sept. 30, which would also mark the Pentagon’s first hypersonic weapon.
The US Defense Intelligence Agency said in March that China was in the lead as far as developing hypersonic weapons, which can fly fast and low and may carry nuclear warheads.
The statement added that even without the flight test, “the department was able to successfully collect data on the performance of the ground hardware and software that will inform the continued progress toward fielding offensive hypersonic weapons.”
“The Army has experienced a number of test delays and ‘no-tests’ since 2021,” according to a Congressional Research Service report.
An Army spokesperson had no immediate comment. Army Assistant Secretary for Acquisition Doug Bush told reporters early last month that the Wednesday test was to be the “most important one” of two as it was to be an “end-to-end evaluation” of the system.
Lockheed Martin Corp. is the prime contractor on the project.
The Long-Range Hypersonic Weapon has a reported range of 1,725 miles and consists of a ground-launched missile equipped with a hypersonic glide body and associated transport, support, and fire control equipment.
The Army’s 5th Battalion, 3rd Field Artillery Regiment at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington State, is to operate the first battery of eight LRHW missiles when they are fielded.
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