The US military canceled a planned test launch of a new hypersonic missile system, announced at the last minute on the day it was supposed to happen, on Wednesday.
unclear what happened to cause the Department of Defense to abort the test, but the DoD put out this statement: "On Sept. 6, the Department planned to conduct a flight test at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida, to inform our hypersonic technology development. As a result of pre-flight checks, the test did not occur." Image of a 2020 test launch of a prototype of the US Army and US Navy's hypersonic missile system, via US Navy/Wiki Commons
According to a a review of the lead-up to the launch in
Space.com: "Navigational warnings announcing the closure of Atlantic Ocean airspace east of Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida that suggested a test launch would take place between Sept. 6 and Sept. 8." appeared earlier in the week
The same publication said that "No reason for the cancellation was given" from the military or launch authorities.
Still, the Pentagon sought to emphasize some positives, that valuable data was gained from the pre-launch phase. It explained that even without the flight test, it "was able to successfully collect data on the performance of the ground hardware and software that will inform the
continued progress toward fielding offensive hypersonic weapons."
Russia, which by all accounts has a much more advanced hypersonic weapons program, even to the point of having already deployed them in Ukraine, has taken note. On Thursday state-run TASS news agency put out
the following: ...the decision (to abort) raises questions about the program’s schedule and whether the US Army can meet its goal of declaring the weapon initially combat capable by September 30.
Hypersonic speed is generally defined as a projectile that can reach Mach 5 or greater. Russia's own
Kinzhal is purported to travel at Mach 10 speeds in an unpredictable flight path, making it nearly impossible for even the most advanced missile defense shields to shoot down. The advanced weaponry was first unveiled by Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2018 and is air-launched from Tu-22M3 bombers or MiG-31K interceptors.
President Putin has in the recent past touted his country's hypersonic missiles as "invincible" - while Russian media has at the same time presented Washington's efforts as very far behind. This latest aborted test out of Florida is being seen by Moscow as further confirmation of this. China is also no doubt watching very closely.