The US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) has awarded aerospace firm Stratolaunch a contract to develop an aerial target that mimics potential hypersonic threats.
The US armed forces reached the agreement to speed developments in tackling ultra-fast weapon systems.
Stratolaunch announced in September that it completed the critical design review of its Talon-A hypersonic test vehicle, which is expected to travel at a speed of Mach 6.
Stratolaunch chief executive officer Daniel Millman said that the threat-replicating target would allow the military to understand how to engage and intercept hypersonic threats.
The company further stated its willingness to augment existing US Department of Defense flight test resources with affordable, rapid-turnaround hypersonic flight exercises.
Bolstering Hypersonic Missile Defense
Earlier this year, the MDA released a video that shows a “multi-layered solution” to defend against the next generation of hypersonic glide vehicles.
Based on the animated video presentation, the agency will integrate space-based and ground-based sensor systems into Aegis Combat System-equipped surface vessels to help spot, track, and intercept hypersonic threats.
The MDA also showed how two space-based sensor systems detect the launches of hypersonic threats and track them while they are still attached to their boosters. The sensors can reportedly track hypersonic glide vehicles and provide a “fire control-quality track” for other intercept attempts.
“It’s important that we have that [hypersonic defense] capability now because the hypersonic threat is there now,” MDA Director Navy Vice Admiral Jon Hill said during a congressional hearing in June. “What we want to do is move further back into that trajectory, engage earlier, and make the terminal defense even better.”