Tuesday, July 7, 2020

U.S. Army discloses ground-launched hypersonic weapon development

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The Army Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office (RCCTO) has disclosed initial details of a new ground-launched missile during the 22nd Space and Missile Defense Symposium in Huntsville this week.

The new weapon system is called the Long-Range Hypersonic Weapon, or LRHW. The RCCTO is charged with delivering the Army’s LRHW, working in close coordination with PEO Missiles and Space and the Long Range Precision Fires Cross Functional Team.

Going faster than the speed of sound, the LRHW is a strategic weapon that will introduce a new class of ultrafast, maneuverable, long-range missiles with rockets that can launch from ground platforms.

The LRHW 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.

The AUR missile has a case diameter of 34.5 inches (887 mm). The missile will be launched from a transport and launch container with a length of about 10 m from a ground-based towed two-container mobile launcher with an Oshkosh M983A4 tractor unit (8×8). The launcher semi-trailer is a modified M870 semi-trailer of the Patriot SAM launcher. The missile system will use the standard American fire control system for missile forces and artillery AFATDS in version 7.0. The battery of the LRHW system will include four dual-container launchers and one Battery Operation Center.

According to RCCTO officials, the U.S. Army expected to develop and deliver one experimental prototype Long Range Hypersonic Weapon battery by FY2023.

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