Assistant Secretary of the US Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology Doug Bush told Defense News in an interview on Monday that the service's Long-Range Hypersonic Weapon (LRHW) aims to be fielded at the end of the year, contingent on a successful retest after missing a four-year-old target to deploy by the government's fiscal year that ends Sept. 30.
Bush said the delay of the LRHW is due to the cancellation of a test of the Common Hypersonic Glide Body, adding the test planned for this month was going to be "pretty close to an operational test" instead of a developmental test.
"We still have a path with a follow-up test to get to a fielded capability by the end of calendar 2023," Bush said.
He continued, "It is just what it is, I mean, a fact of life, we're not going to field something until we have some confidence that if soldiers are asked to go use it in combat that it's going to work and be safe for them to use."
Bush noted, "We're still finding problems" and "it's actually good we're finding these" problems rather than later.
One of those problems is a "flaw that triggered a 'don't shoot' warning two seconds before launch," he said.
Meanwhile, the Pentagon has poured billions of dollars into these superfast weapons but has struggled to keep pace with China and Russia.
The spending is part of America's struggle to re-establish dominance in key military technologies as it enters a new era of great-power competition. The US is straining to keep up with China in an array of military technologies, ranging from artificial intelligence to biotechnology.
Moscow's work on hypersonics is also a concern for the Pentagon, even if Russia's weapons are mostly based on Cold War research and not as sophisticated as those China is now developing. Moscow has developed weapons that can threaten NATO forces in Europe, and Russian President Vladimir Putin has touted Avangard, a hypersonic weapon that can reach the US -The Wall Street Journal
The Pentagon's problems with developing hypersonics run up and down the decision chain, from failed flight tests and inadequate testing infrastructure to the lack of a clear, overarching plan for fielding the weapons. The situation is raising alarms among some former officials.
Mounting delays for the US' hypersonic weapons program is not a surprise, as we've outlined to readers over the years: "America Falls Behind Russia And China In Combat-Ready Hypersonic Missiles, Report Says."
The inability to deploy hypersonic weapons and severe challenges surrounding the F-35 stealth jets are very concerning for taxpayers forced to subsidize a bloated military-industrial complex to the tune of hundreds of billions every year without having any say in the matter.