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The US Army’s R & D secret wing announced a successful flight test for a hypersonic missile system developed by Raytheon, after a previous test using rival Lockheed Martin’s model that was unsuccessful the year last.

The free flight launch of the Hypersonic Breathing Weapon (HAWC) concept was successful last week and encountered “All the main objectives of the test”, The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) said in a press release on Monday. It was the first successful test of the system made public by the military.

“This brings us one step closer to HAWC’s transition to a record-breaking program that delivers next-generation capability to the US military,” said Andrew Knoedler, who heads the HAWC program at DARPA’s office of tactical technology, adding that the test “Was a successful demonstration of the capabilities that will make hypersonic cruise missiles a very effective tool for our fighters.”

The agency said the HAWC system can “Hits targets much faster than subsonic missiles” due to its speed and maneuverability, and can inflict significant damage by kinetic energy alone, “even without high explosives.” In the recent test, conducted jointly with the US Air Force, the ammunition was dropped from an aircraft and quickly reached speeds above Mach 5 – or five times the speed of sound – thanks to a supersonic combustion ramjet developed by Northrop Grumman.

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While the latest HAWC test reportedly went off without a hitch, the program has struggled in recent months. The system – comprising two competing variants developed by Raytheon and Lockheed Martin – completed an initial round of testing last September, but subsequent testing of Lockheed’s model encountered problems and was deemed unsuccessful. Although much of HAWC’s development is on file and remains shrouded in secrecy, a DARPA source told Air Force Magazine in December that Lockheed’s test did not go well, claiming “I assure you you would have heard of it if there was anything to celebrate.”

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Last year, media also suggested that a prototype HAWC was destroyed after falling from a B-52 bomber carrying it on a test flight, but a DARPA source told the magazine that these claims were exaggerated and that the prototype suffered only a little damage, although declined. to elaborate further.

Monday’s DARPA press release only referred to Raytheon’s variant for the HAWC system, not revealing where Lockheed’s design stands or whether it has made any progress since the failed test of the system. last winter.

The R&D agency plans to complete the HAWC program in FY2022, according to the Drive, after which it hopes to fuse some of the same technologies with the Air’s Hypersonic Attack Cruise Missile (HACM) system. Force, one of many others. hypersonic platforms currently under development at the Pentagon.

The United States redoubled its efforts to develop hypersonic technology after Moscow unveiled a range of advanced weapons in 2018. Russia has since become the first country in the world to put a hypersonic glide vehicle into service. The Avangard can be transported by potential RS-18A and RS-28 Sarmat ICBMs to deliver nuclear and conventional payloads.

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The Kinzhal – which means “dagger” in Russian – can fly at a speed of Mach 10 and is said to have the ability to perform avoidance maneuvers in flight. The first Kinzhal entered service in December 2017. The missile can be launched from the MiG-31K supersonic interceptor and the Tu-22M3 bomber – and can carry both conventional and nuclear warheads.

The Zircon anti-ship missile, supposedly capable of flying at Mach 8, was also successfully tested against ships and land targets, and in May of this year it was undergoing the final tests before deployment.

In the meantime, Moscow says it is fully aware that other nations are hastily designing their own hypersonic weapons – but by the time they are acquired, the Russian military will have learned to protect the country from them, President Vladimir Putin said. last year.

I think that we can pleasantly surprise our partners by the fact that when they obtain these weapons, we will have the means to fight them, with a high degree of probability.

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