U.S. conducts successful test of hypersonic glide body in Hawaii

The U.S. Department of Defense has tested a hypersonic glide body in a flight test conducted from the Pacific Missile Range Facility, Kauai, Hawaii on the evening of Thursday March 19 (Friday evening Australian time)

According to a news release issued by the DoD, the launch of the common hypersonic glide body (C-HGB) was jointly executed by the U.S. Navy and U.S. Army, and saw the projectile successfully fly at hypersonic speed to a designated impact point.

Concurrently, the Missile Defense 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.

The Department also said that 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.”

”This test builds on the success we had with Flight Experiment 1 in October 2017, in which our C-HGB achieved sustained hypersonic glide at our target distances,” said Vice Adm. Johnny R. Wolfe, Director, Navy’s Strategic Systems Programs, which is the lead designer for the C-HGB.

Wolfe added that during the test “we put additional stresses on the system and it was able to handle them all, due to the phenomenal expertise of our top-notch team of individuals from across government, industry and academia. Today we validated our design and are now ready to move to the next phase towards fielding a hypersonic strike capability.”

The U.S. has made hypersonic weapons development is one of the DoD’s highest development priorities, and it is aiming to field a hypersonic weapon in the early to mid-2020s in order to catch up to China and Russia, which it estimates are more advanced in their respective programs to develop and field similar weapons.

The U.S. Navy is leading the C-HGB’s design and development while the Army is leading its production development. The Army wants a mobile land-based capability fielded around 2023, while the U.S. Navy wants a ship-launched capability fielded in at the same time followed by a submarine-launched missile the following year.

Watch the DoD’s short video of the launch

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