From the Associated Press
The Army launched the Advanced Hypersonic Weapon from the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai at about 1:30 a.m. Thursday.
The weapon’s “glide vehicle” reached Kwajalein Atoll — some 2,300 miles away — in less than half an hour, said Lt. Col. Melinda Morgan, a Pentagon spokeswoman.
Earlier this year, the Congressional Research Service said in a report the Advanced Hypersonic Weapon is part of the military’s program to develop “prompt global strike” weapons that would allow the U.S. to strike targets anywhere in the world with conventional weapons in as little as an hour.
The Air Force and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, are developing a similar vehicle, which reached speeds of reached Mach 20, or about 13,000 mph, before crashing into the Pacific on Aug. 11.
The Pentagon said the Army’s Advanced Hypersonic Weapon, or AHW, vehicle is designed to fly long ranges within the earth’s atmosphere at speeds that are at least five times the speed of sound.
The goal of Thursday’s test was to collect data on technologies that boost the hypersonic vehicle and allow it to glide much faster than the speed of sound. The Army was also testing how the vehicle performed in long-range flight.
A three-stage booster system launched the AHW glide vehicle and successfully deployed it on the desired flight trajectory, officials said. The vehicle flew a nonballistic trajectory at hypersonic speed to the Reagan Test Site at Kwajalein Atoll.
The Congressional Research Service report said the AHW would be able to maneuver to avoid flying over third party nations as it approached its target. The weapon would use a precision guidance system to home in on the target, it said.
The payload could include conventional explosives, but the kinetic energy from the speed of the weapon would also have an explosive impact.
The weapon could also be used to penetrate underground, hardened bunkers.