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Pentagon’s Hypersonic Glide Body Flight Test Deemed Success

Pentagon’s Hypersonic Glide Body Flight Test Deemed Success 21 March, 2020

The U.S. Defence Department tested a hypersonic glide body in a flight experiment conducted from the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai, Hawaii, on March 19, 2020. The Navy and Army jointly executed the launch.

The test was deemed a success.

The Common-Hypersonic Glide Body, or C-HGB, launched and flew at hypersonic speed to “a designated impact point,” according to a statement issued March 20 by the Department of Defence. The test was a joint effort between the Navy and Army.

The DoD has been jointly developing the C-HGB that will serve as the base of its offensive hypersonic missile.

The C-HGB will be made up of the weapon’s warhead, guidance system, cabling and thermal protection shield. Each service will use the C-HGB as the base while developing individual weapon systems such as launchers capable of firing the weapons from land or sea.

The Missile Defence Agency monitored the test and gathered tracking data to help inform system development and design of a defensive hypersonic weapon — a ongoing effort within the agency — the statement noted.

While the Navy has led the C-HGB’s design and development, the Army is leading its production development. There is no hypersonic weapon industrial base in the U.S., so the service is leading the charge with the defence industry to start it from the ground up. Industry has, however, developed warheads, glide bodies and other components.

The U.S. military is working with industry to build an industrial base for hypersonic weapons as it seeks to counter Russian and Chinese advancements.

One of the biggest challenges is the pace at which the services want to test and field a hypersonic offensive capability. The Army wants a mobile land-based capability fielded around 2023. That means the service will likely choose manufacturers to build hypersonic missiles in a year or two.

The Navy wants its ship-launched capability fielded in 2023 followed by a submarine-launched missile in 2024, and the Air Force wants to field its air-launched version in 2022.

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