US Army scraps long-range hypersonic weapon flight test
The specific reasons behind the test's cancellation were not disclosed.
Bloomberg News reported on Wednesday that the US abandoned a test of its inaugural hypersonic missile, intended to become a part of the Army's weaponry. This development represents a setback in the US efforts to close the gap with China in the race for a vital future weapon.
"The department planned to conduct a flight test at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida to inform our hypersonic technology development but as a result of pre-flight checks the test did not occur," the DoD said in a statement to Bloomberg News, referring to the Long-Range Hypersonic Weapon.
The specific reasons behind the test's cancellation were not disclosed. However, the decision has raised uncertainties about the program's timeline and whether the Army can achieve its objective of declaring the weapon initially combat-ready by September 30.
This date would also signify the Pentagon's first introduction of a hypersonic weapon.
In March, the US Defense Intelligence Agency said in a statement that China was in the lead in the development of hypersonic weapons, known for their high-speed, low-altitude flight capabilities and potential for carrying nuclear warheads.
The statement also read that despite the absence of the flight test, the Department effectively gathered data regarding the ground hardware and software's performance, which will contribute to advancing the deployment of offensive hypersonic weapons.
According to a report by the Congressional Research Service, the Army has encountered multiple test delays and instances of tests not being conducted since 2021.
Doug Bush, the Army Assistant Secretary for Acquisition, informed reporters in the previous month that the test scheduled for Wednesday was considered the more crucial of the two tests, as it entailed a comprehensive evaluation of the entire system.
Lockheed Martin Corp. serves as the primary contractor for this project.
The Long-Range Hypersonic Weapon encompasses a ground-launched missile fitted with a hypersonic glide body, accompanied by the necessary transport, support, and fire control equipment. It boasts an estimated range of 1,725 miles.
Upon deployment, the initial battery of eight LRHW missiles will be operated by the Army's 5th Battalion, 3rd Field Artillery Regiment, stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington State.