The US Army has dramatically ramped up efforts to develop the next hypersonic weapon in a race with Russia and China. The goal is to have the new missile system deployed on the modern battlefield by 2023.
Defense Blog reports that the Army Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office (RCCTO) disclosed new details of a ground-launched hypersonic missile system during last week's 22nd Space and Missile Defense Symposium in Huntsville, Alabama.
Long-Range Hypersonic Weapon (LRHW) is a new weapon system that is being developed by PEO Missiles and Space and the Long Range Precision Fires Cross-Functional Team.
The LRHW fires a new class of ultrafast, maneuverable, long-range missiles that travel at Mach 5 or greater.
According to Defense Blog, LRHW fires "a universal solid-propellant medium-range All-Up Round ballistic missile," equipped with a hypersonic warhead of the Common Hypersonic Glide Body (C-HGB) that makes the flight trajectory to a target unpredictable.
LRHW is being developed by the Sandia National Laboratory of the US Department of Energy and the US Missile Defense Agency. The hypersonic warhead will be used by all US armed forces (Army, Air Force, and Navy).
"The AUR missile has a case diameter of 34.5 inches (887 mm). The missile will be launched from a transport and launch container with a length of about 10 m from a ground-based towed two-container mobile launcher with an Oshkosh M983A4 tractor unit (8×8). The launcher semi-trailer is a modified M870 semi-trailer of the Patriot SAM launcher. The missile system will use the standard American fire control system for missile forces and artillery AFATDS in version 7.0. The battery of the LRHW system will include four dual-container launchers and one Battery Operation Center," Defense Blog wrote.
RCCTO officials told the military blog that one experimental LRHW prototype would be ready by 2023 for testing.
Pentagon officials warn that Russia and China are outpacing the US in hypersonic missile technology.
While Russia has already deployed hypersonic missiles into its arsenal and China continues to test the weapons, it seems the US is clearly behind in hypersonic weaponry development.