The US military conducts tests of hypersonic weapons development experiments


The U.S. military successfully test-launched a rocket Wednesday at the Wallops Flight Test Facility in Virginia, conducting experiments to develop hypersonic weapons.

The rocket conducted 11 different experiments designed to test and collect data for hypersonic weapons research in support of a joint Navy-Navy program, the Navy said.

This was the second test carried out as part of the program aimed at developing hypersonic capabilities at sea and on land. The first test took place in October 2021.

In this test, a sonic rocket was launched from the launch pad, collecting data and conducting various experiments to gather information about hypersonic missile components, including heat-resistant materials and advanced electronics.

“Today’s launch went very well,” said Vice Adm. Johnny Wolfe, director of Strategic Systems Programs, who oversaw the test. “In fact, we just finished looking at our main observables, and every piece of data that we wanted to collect – at least in advance – showed that we collected all of that data.”

A second rocket will launch Thursday and carry out 13 more experiments designed to inform the development of hypersonic weapons, the Navy said.

Data gathered from these tests will help develop the Navy’s Hypersonic Conventional Prompt Strike system and the Navy’s Long-Range Hypersonic Weapon. The two programs will both use the Common Hypersonic Glide Body, a missile that is carried on top of a rocket booster that travels to its target at speeds greater than Mach 5.

Hypersonic weapons travel at speeds greater than Mach 5, or approximately 4,000 kilometers per hour, and are difficult to detect and intercept in time. The missiles can maneuver and change altitude, allowing them to evade missile defense systems.

The Pentagon has made developing hypersonic weapons one of its top priorities after China conducted successful hypersonic launches last year and Russia began using hypersonic missiles in the war in Ukraine.

After China tested a hypersonic weapon in 2021, US Joint Chiefs Chairman Mark Milley called the test “a very significant technological event” which is just one element of China’s military capabilities.

“China’s military capabilities are much greater than that” a single test, Milley said in October 2021. “They are rapidly expanding into space, cyber, and then traditional land, sea, and air domains.”