Wednesday, September 23, 2020

U.S. Army aims to get long-range hypersonic weapon prototype by 2023

The U.S. Army is aiming to get first long-range hypersonic weapon experimental prototype by the fiscal year 2023, according to a recently published article at Army AL&T magazine.

Army’s magazine has reported that the new land-based, truck-launched system should be armed with hypersonic missiles that can travel well over 3,800 miles per hour.

The new weapon system, also knows as the LRHW, will provide a critical strategic weapon and a powerful deterrent against adversary capabilities for the U.S. Army. Hypersonic missiles can reach the top of the Earth’s atmosphere and remain just beyond the range of air and missile defense systems until they are ready to strike, and by then it’s too late to react. Extremely accurate, ultrafast, maneuverable and survivable, hypersonics can strike anywhere in the world within minutes.

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The Army’s path for fast-tracking hypersonics began in late 2018, when it renamed and refocused the efforts of the Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office (RCCTO). As part of the overall Army modernization strategy, Army leaders asked RCCTO to lead the hypersonic and directed-energy efforts as they transition from the science and technology (S&T) community and into the hands of operational units.

Collaborating across services, RCCTO must produce a common hypersonic glide body, existing trucks and modified trailers with new launchers, and an existing Army command-and-control system.

The long-range hypersonic weapon system is a universal solid-propellant medium-range All-Up Round, or AUR, ballistic missile, equipped with a universal maneuverable and therefore, unpredictable, the hypersonic warhead of the Common Hypersonic Glide Body (C-HGB) in the execution of Block 1.

Both of these system components are developed by the Sandia National Laboratory of the United States Department of Energy with the participation of the United States Missile Defense Agency. The C-HGB hypersonic warhead is being developed as a whole to equip weapons systems of three types of the U.S. armed forces (Army, Air Force, and Navy). The AUR missile will also be used by the U.S. Navy.

Developing hypersonic weapons for a national mission set requires constant cross-service coordination. Collaborating across services, agencies and with the Office of the Secretary of Defense through a Joint Service Memorandum of Agreement on design, development, testing and production, the Army, Navy, Air Force and the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) are all accelerating initiatives to field hypersonic weapon systems using a Common Hypersonic Glide Body (C-HGB). The Navy leads design of the C-HGB, while the Army will lead production and build a commercial industrial base. This cooperation enables the services to leverage one another’s technologies as much as possible, while tailoring them to meet specific design and requirements for air, land and sea.

Starting in 2020, the Army will participate in a series of joint tests with the Navy, Air Force and MDA, focusing on range, environmental extremes and contested environments. The tests will be complemented by training events so Soldiers can learn to employ the new technology.

Graphic by Army RCCTO

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Executive Editor

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