After President Vladimir Putin boasted that Russia had successfully tested a Tsirkon (Zircon) hypersonic cruise missile in July, the Pentagon has announced the successful testing of an air-breathing supersonic weapon.
According to Gabe Camarillo, the undersecretary of the U.S. Army, a successful test of the hypersonic missile released from an aircraft reached the speed of 3,853 mph in the upper atmosphere.
The U.S. began research and development of its hypersonic weapon in 2013, and earlier military projections were that the U.S. would have a hypersonic weapon by 2025.
By 2019, Raytheon and Northrop Grumman combined forces to work-hand-in glove to develop and produce engines that would withstand hypersonic speeds.
Via Northrop’s scram jet engine technology compression of air intake before combustion enabled the hypersonic speeds to be reached and sustained.
Lockheed Martin designed the weapon, AGM-183A, and it was successfully released by a U.S. Airforce B-52H Stratofortress Bomber off the coast of Calif. after taking off from Edwards Air Force Base on Dec. 9. The design enables the weapon to be activated after being launched in flight, and its guidance system allows military personal to direct it to its target.
Both China and Russia have developed the hypersonic-speed missiles that can reach targets, cutting down the time air defenses would have to respond to an attack.
The U.S. Army’s Rapid Capabilities and Critical Office of Technologies has projected that the USS Zumwalt, a stealthy destroyer, will become the first of the U.S. Navy’s ships to be armed with the hypersonic-speed missiles, but not until 2025.
The U.S. Navy and the U.S. Army conducted tests via the Sandia National Laboratories on Wallops Island off the coast of Virginia that contributed to the success of the launch off the coast of Calif.
The success of the testing of heat resistant metal and guidance systems capable of withstanding supersonic speeds at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility earlier in the year contributed to the successful prototype launch.
While Russia and China have developed their hypersonic cruise missiles that are capable of having nuclear warheads attached to them, the U.S. version of the air-breathing hypersonic weapon is not currently designed for nuclear warheads.
Instead, the weapon is designed for accuracy in pinpointing targets such as missile sites and other military targets that can be taken out without a nuclear-warhead.
Army Lt. General Neil L.Thurgood, director of the U.S. Navy and U.S. Army Hypersonic Air-Breathing Weapon Concert (HAWC), noted that only Sandia National Laboratories in the U.S. had the technology to produce the hypersonic glide bodies.
Sandia is one of three U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Administration’s facilities. It has three locations: New Mexico, California and Hawaii.
In Feb. of 2019, Thurgood was given the directive to have operational hypersonic missiles ready for the military’s arsenal, and the Pentagon’s budget request of $3.8 billion in 2022 has risen to $4.7 billion for 2023.
The U.S. now has the U.S. Space Force as a branch of its military, and the Space Race that began in the early 1950’s that the USSR took the lead in by launching Sputnik on Oct. 4, 1957, has continued for more than a century.
The U.S. Space Force was established on Dec. 20, 2019, by the U.S. Congress bipartisan authorization of the National Defense Act.
The U.S. Space Force has requested a $1 billion budget for 2023 to develop an effective missile tracking and early warning system capability that is projected to be operational by 2027.
President Ronald Reagan’s Strategic Defensive Initiative (SDI) was dubbed “Star Wars.”
Reagan’s vision for SDI was to provide a satellite system in space armed with lasers that could detect and deflect any nuclear attack on the U.S. to avoid Armageddon.
With many nations having tested and developed nuclear warheads, the Space Race that has successfully produced the International Space Station, the largest multinational community in space, appears to have failed to shed its competitive one-ups-man-ship characteristic.