The US Navy Strategic Systems Programs and the US Army Hypersonic Project Office have flight-tested a precision sounding rocket with hypersonic payloads at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.
Data gathered from the test will be used in ongoing hypersonic projects, including the navy’s Conventional Prompt Strike and the army’s Long Range Hypersonic Weapon.
The trial is the second of the High Operational Tempo for Hypersonics program, which supports the rapid development of US forces’ offensive and defensive hypersonic warfighting capabilities “to ensure continued battlefield dominance.”
This phase focuses on a Common Hypersonic Glide Body and booster that will be fielded with various weapon systems and launchers.
The test will be concluded later this week through the launch of a second sounding rocket carrying prototype payloads that will provide data on the missile, its components, and performance in a realistic environment.
“During weapon system development, precision sounding rocket launches fill a critical gap between ground testing and full system flight testing,” according to the US Navy.
“These launches allow for frequent and regular flight testing opportunities to support rapid maturation of offensive and defensive hypersonic technologies.”
The flight test was led by the US Missile Defense Agency, Sandia National Laboratories, Johns Hopkins University/Applied Physics Laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, MITRE, and other partners.
“Delivering hypersonic weapons is one of the DoD’s highest priorities,” the US Navy highlighted.
“Hypersonic weapons, capable of flying at speeds greater than five times the speed of sound (Mach 5), are highly maneuverable and operate at varying altitudes.”
“The DoD is working in collaboration with industry, government national laboratories, and academia to field hypersonic warfighting capability in the early-to mid-2020s.”