US successfully tests hypersonic weapon in Hawaii

Hypersonic weapons are designed to evade modern defences by flying at five times the speed of sound

The US tests a hypersonic glide body
The US tests a hypersonic glide body

The US has tested an unarmed hypersonic weapon in Hawaii, the US Department of Defence (DOD) has confirmed.

The Pentagon said the test of the hypersonic glide body late on Thursday was a success.

Both China and Russia are developing similar military capabilities.

The US Missile Defence Agency (MDA) "monitored and gathered tracking data from the flight experiment that will inform its ongoing development of systems designed to defend against adversary hypersonic weapons,” it said in a statement.

"Information gathered from this and future experiments will further inform DOD’s hypersonic technology development, and this event is a major milestone towards the department’s goal of fielding hypersonic warfighting capabilities in the early- to mid-2020s,” it added.

Hypersonic weapons are designed to evade modern defences by flying at five times the speed of sound or faster.

After being lifted into the sky on a rocket to altitudes of between 25 miles and 62 miles, a hypersonic glide vehicle detaches and along the upper atmosphere towards its target.

Hypersonic glide vehicles can steer an unpredictable course and manoeuvre sharply as they approach impact. They also follow a much flatter and lower trajectory than the high, arching path of a ballistic missile.

The Navy and Army jointly executed Thursday's launch which “flew at hypersonic speed to a designated impact point,” the Pentagon said in the statement.

The Pentagon, which tested a similar hypersonic missile in 2017, has a goal of fielding hypersonic warfighting capabilities in the early to mid-2020s.

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