Friday, November 18, 2011

US Successfully Tests Advanced Hypersonic Weapon

"The U.S. Army on Thursday carried out a successful initial test of a cutting-edge technology that might be incorporated into a non-nuclear "prompt global strike" capability that could be targeted anywhere around the world within an hour", according to GlobalSecurityNewswire and other news groups.

"The vehicle tested this week employs a conical design that has been around for decades and can travel up to 6,100 miles an hour or at Mach 8 speed."

"AHW technologies, if proven successful, might be incorporated into the Air Force Conventional Strike Missile, which could be the first such prompt-attack capability to be fielded.

For more details, continue below... 

Advanced Hypersonic Weapon (AHW) is an advanced-technology glide body built to endure high-speed flight in the upper atmosphere en route to a target.

"...the initial trial flight of the Advanced Hypersonic Weapon glider technology, the aim was to gather "data on hypersonic boost-glide technologies and test range performance for long-range atmospheric flight," the Pentagon said. The test mission emphasis was "aerodynamics; navigation, guidance, and control; and thermal protection technologies," the release states... took the test vehicle less than 30 minutes to travel roughly 2,300 miles from Kauai to the Kwajalein Atoll."

The emphasis on Deep Strike Weapons, in addition to Strategic and Tactical Stealth Assets, illustrates the Pentagon's redirection back to planning for potential future conventional conflicts. with adversaries who are increasing their technology of Anti-Access/Area Denial capabilities.  These potential adversaries include primarily China and to a lesser extent Iran.

Both countries are in critical geo-political areas.  China is a growing threat to the its Asian neighbors, who sit on vast underwater oil fields.  China's increasing regional military assets also threaten long term US interests and allies in the Pacific.  Iran, of course is in the volatile SouthWest Asian area, and has the ability to threaten choke holds in the Gulf Region, thus threatening world oil supplies.

However, this program is envisioned as a Critical Emergency Response system.  Reacting, for example, to a North Korean nuclear missile being prepared for launch or a High Value Terrorist attack.  Planners point to a cruise missile attack that took several hours to go from launch to target, which would have killed Osama Bin Laden years ago.  The strike was accurate bu missed OBL by an hour.

Originally, the plan was to have 3-5 systems available, the first being in 2012.  But the technologies are still being engineered and the date for operational readiness has now been moved from 2017 to 2020.

These advanced technologies will likely have multiplier effects on other weapon systems such as Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) and conventional Cruise Missile weapons, as well as aerodynamic research for future Air Dominance platforms and space weapons and flight.

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