The US military conducted a test launch of a rocket and attempted to develop a hypersonic weapon at the Wallops Flight Test Facility in Virginia on Wednesday.
The rocket carried 11 different probes to test and collect research data for hypersonic weapons to support the Navy’s anti-missile defense program, the Navy said.
This was the second test conducted under the program which focuses on developing hypersonic capabilities at sea and on land. The first test was held in October 2021.
During this test, a sounding rocket was fired from the launchpad, performing various tests to gather information and collect information on the components of the hypersonic missile, including heat-resistant components and advanced electronic components.
“Today’s launch went very well,” said Vice Admiral Johnny Wolfe, director of Strategic Systems Programs who oversaw the test. “In fact, we’ve just finished looking at what we’ve seen, and everything that we wanted to collect – at least initially – has shown that we’ve collected all of that.”
The second rocket is expected to be launched on Thursday and will carry out 13 more tests designed to inform the development of hypersonic weapons, the Navy said.
Data gathered from these tests will aid in the development of the Navy’s Conventional Prompt Strike hypersonic system and the Army’s Long Range Hypersonic Weapon. The two programs will use the Common Hypersonic Glide Body, a projectile that rides on top of a booster rocket that is aimed at a speed of more than Mach 5.
Hypersonic weapons travel at speeds faster than Mach 5, or about 4,000 miles per hour, making them difficult to detect and intercept in time. The arrows can also travel and vary in length, allowing them to evade defensive weapons.
The Pentagon has made the development of hypersonic weapons one of its top priorities after China’s successful hypersonic launch last year and Russia’s use of hypersonic missiles in its war in Ukraine.
After China tested a hypersonic weapon in 2021, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley called the test “a very important technological event” that is just one aspect of China’s military capabilities.
“China’s military power is much greater than that” one test, Milley said in October 2021. “They are expanding rapidly in space, in technology and in areas that used to be on land, sea and air.”
Russia and China are ahead of the US in hypersonic technology. That is why