On Wednesday, the U.S. military conducted a successful rocket test launch at the Wallops Flight Test Facility in Virginia, as well as a hypersonic weapons development experiment.
The rocket conducted 11 different experiments designed to test and collect data for use in hypersonic weapons research to support joint Army-Navy programs, the Navy said.
This is the second test under the program, which focuses on developing sea- and land-based hypersonic capabilities. The first test will take place in October 2021.
During this test, a sounding rocket was launched from the launch pad and different experiments were carried out to collect data and gather information about the components of the hypersonic missile, including heat-resistant materials and high-end electronics.
“Today’s launch went very well,” said Lt. Gen. Johnny Wolfe, director of the Strategic Systems Program, who oversaw the test. “In fact, we just finished looking at key observables, and every piece of data we wanted to collect – at least preliminary – indicated that we collected all of them.”
The second rocket is scheduled to launch on Thursday and will conduct another 13 experiments designed to inform hypersonic weapons development, the Navy said.
Data gathered from these tests will aid in the development of the Navy’s conventional fast-strike hypersonic systems and the Army’s long-range hypersonic weapons. Both projects will use the Universal Hypersonic Glide Body, a projectile mounted on top of a booster rocket that glides toward a target at speeds greater than Mach 5.
Hypersonic weapons travel at speeds in excess of Mach 5, or about 4,000 mph, making them difficult to detect and intercept in time. The missile can also maneuver and change altitude to avoid missile defense systems.
The Pentagon has made developing hypersonic weapons one of its top priorities after China successfully launched hypersonic launches last year and Russia began using hypersonic missiles in the Ukraine war.
After China tested a hypersonic weapon in 2021, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley called the test “a very important technical event” that was just one element of China’s military capabilities.
Milley said in October 2021 that “China’s military capabilities are far more than one test.” “They are rapidly expanding in space, cyber, and traditional domains on land, sea and air.”
Russia and China are ahead of the US in hypersonic missile technology.That’s why