Army tests Advanced Hypersonic Weapon over Pacific

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.
Click to enlarge

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.) 

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