WASHINGTON — The Army conducted its first test Thursday of a new weapon designed to fly several times the speed of sound.
|Sensors at the Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site at Kwajalein Atoll, located 2,300 miles southwest of Hawaii, are controlled from Huntsville, Ala.|
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The Advanced Hypersonic Weapon, or AHW, was launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai, Hawaii, at 1:30 a.m. Aleutian time. The AHW successfully reached its target about 2,300 miles away at the Reagan Test Site, U.S. Army Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.
The AHW is a first-of-its-kind glide vehicle, designed to fly within the earth’s atmosphere at hypersonic speed and long range. The flight test was conducted by the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command and Army Forces Strategic Command.
The objective of the test was to collect data on hypersonic boost-glide technologies and test range performance for long-range atmospheric flight, officials said. They said mission emphasis was on aerodynamics; navigation, guidance, and control; and thermal protection technologies.
A three-stage booster system launched the AHW glide vehicle and successfully deployed it on the desired flight trajectory. The vehicle flew a non-ballistic glide trajectory at hypersonic speed to the planned impact location at Kwajailein.
Space, air, sea, and ground platforms collected vehicle performance data during all phases of flight, officials said. They said the data collected will be used by the Department of Defense to model and develop future hypersonic boost-glide capabilities.
The AHW program is managed and executed by the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command program office in Huntsville, Ala. The booster system and glide vehicle were developed by Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, N.M., and the thermal protection system by the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research Development and Engineering Center, Huntsville, Ala.
The Department of Defense is using AHW to develop and demonstrate technologies for Conventional Prompt Global Strike. As part of the CPGS effort, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency conducted boost-glide flight tests in April 2010 and August 2011. The results of those tests were used in planning this week’s Army AHW flight test, officials said.
(Information taken from a DOD news release.)