US covertly test-fires hypersonic missile in March: CNN
The Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept (HAWC) was launched from a B-52 bomber off the west coast in the first successful test of the Lockheed Martin version of the system, CNN reported on Tuesday citing its unnamed military source.
The US successfully tested a hypersonic missile in mid-March but kept it quiet for two weeks to avoid escalating tensions with Russia as Joe Biden prepared to travel to Europe, CNN reported citing a defense official familiar with the matter.
The Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept (HAWC) was launched from a B-52 bomber off the west coast in the first successful test of the Lockheed Martin version of the system, according to the official.
See more: What Are Hypersonic Missiles?
The missile was accelerated to high speed by a booster engine, after which the air-breathing scramjet engine ignited and propelled the missile at hypersonic speeds of Mach 5 and higher, the official added.
Furthermore, the official offered scant details of the missile test, only noting the missile flew above 19.8 km and for more than 482.8 km. But even at the lower end of the hypersonic range -- about 6115.5 km per hour --, a flight of 482.8 km is less than 5 minutes.
Biden was preparing for a visit to NATO allies in Europe at the time of the missile test, including a stop in Poland where he met with Ukraine's foreign and defense ministers.
The United States has been careful not to take action or make statements that could unnecessarily exacerbate tensions between Washington and Moscow. The US canceled a test of the Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on Friday on the grounds of avoiding any misinterpretation by Russia. Austin had already postponed the test in early March in order to avoid any actions that could be misinterpreted by Russia at such a critical time.
In general, the US has been relatively quiet about the weapons and equipment it sends into Ukraine. The Defense Department only listed specific systems and weapons in the most recent $300 million weapons supplies package.
The US test is the second successful HAWC missile test and the first of the Lockheed Martin version of the weapon. The Raytheon HAWC, powered by a Northrop Grumman scramjet engine, was tested by the Air Force last September.
It is worth mentioning that the US constantly condemned North Korea's repeated missile launches under the pretext of "violated multiple Security Council resolutions”.