The Army plans two further tests on new hypersonic weapons before it begins to field hypersonics to the first unit later this year. The Army and Navy are co-developers of the hypersonic weapon project, and they will launch the vehicle using ground support equipment together.
The large eight-ton, three-foot diameter hypersonic missile is expected to travel in excess of Mach 5 (3,836.35 mph) or faster and have a range of about 1,725 miles. The exact range and speed are classified.
The two services have worked together on this hypersonic missile project for over a decade conducting their first tests in 2010. The Army has been developing the weapon’s glide body, while the Navy has developed a two-stage hypersonic missile booster stack.
The Army has selected the first unit to field the hypersonic missiles but hasn’t released that information. The Navy is planning on fielding the weapons on the three Zumwalt-class stealthy destroyers and on 20 Virginia-class attack submarines.
The missile is being developed under the Conventional Prompt Strike (CPS) capabilities program whose goal is to design, develop, build, and test an integrated hypersonic weapon system capable of launching from surface ships, submarines, and land that will allow the U.S. Army and Navy to conduct precision strikes anywhere in the world with precision fires at speeds of Mach 5+.
The decade-plus Army-Navy joint project has been designed with China and Russia in mind.
China has been fast modernizing the People’s Liberation Army and its hypersonic missiles can reach targets over 3,000 miles away.
Russia placed hypersonic Zircon missiles on their most modern frigate, the Admiral Gorshkov, and launched the vessel a week ago.
Related: US announces successful test of its first fight-ready hypersonic missile
U.S. commanders know that they need longer-range and more accurate hypersonic missiles that can eliminate Chinese or Russian threats. The Army was very exuberant with its praise for the new missile.
“Extremely accurate, ultrafast, maneuverable, and survivable, hypersonics can strike anywhere in the world within minutes,” the Army said.
Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro said at the Surface Warfare Symposium on Wednesday that the Navy will eventually look to add hypersonic missiles on aircraft but not at the present time.
“We’re looking at that as a potential option, but not in real concrete terms right now,” he said. “But what we are looking at basically, most immediately, is getting CPS to function on the Zumwalt-class destroyers and, as a follow-on, on the submarines as well.”
He added that the hypersonic missiles will be placed on the Zumwalt-class destroyers by 2025.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Air Force is working with Raytheon Corp. to develop its own, hypersonic attack cruise missile (HACM).
Feature Image: U.S. Navy Strategic Systems Programs and the Army Hypersonic Program Office successfully conducted a High Operational Tempo for Hypersonics flight campaign in October 2021. (Photo by Amy Smith/U.S. Navy)
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