Russia uses hypersonic missiles for the first time in history 2:19
The latest test of a US hypersonic weapon has failed after an "anomaly" occurred during the first test of the full system, the Pentagon said Thursday.
The test, conducted at the Pacific Missile Range facility in Hawaii, was to launch the common hypersonic glide body on a two-stage missile booster.
The booster is designed to launch the system and accelerate it to hypersonic speeds in excess of Mach 5, at which point the glide body detaches and uses its speed to reach the target.
It was the first time the entire system had been tested, which is called an "All Up Round" test.
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The anomaly prevented the Defense Department from completing the test, but the Pentagon said it was not a total failure.
"Although the Department was unable to collect data on the entire anticipated flight profile, the information gathered from this event will provide vital insights," Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Tim Gorman said in a statement.
Gorman did not provide further details about the nature of the anomaly or at what stage of the test it occurred.
Program officials will review the test to find out what went wrong and to take action on future tests, Gorman said.
"The supply of hypersonic weapons remains a top priority and the Department remains confident that it is on track to operationalize offensive and defensive hypersonic capabilities on schedule beginning in the early 2020s," Gorman said.
The Pentagon has placed greater emphasis on developing hypersonic weapons after lawmakers raised concerns that the US was falling behind on Chinese and Russian weapons programs.
Last year, China successfully tested a hypersonic weapon that orbited the globe before reaching its target.
Most recently, Russia became the first nation to use hypersonic weapons in warfare when it launched its Iskander and Kinzhal missiles against Ukraine.
The United States successfully tested a hypersonic missile in March and kept it secret to avoid tensions with Russia.
The failure, first reported by Bloomberg, is another setback for the US in the race to develop and deploy hypersonic weapons, although the US has successfully carried out tests of other hypersonic programs.
The earlier test by the Joint Hypersonic Glider Corps, a joint Navy-Army venture, also ended prematurely when the rocket booster failed.
Without the booster rocket, the Pentagon was unable to proceed with the Common Hypersonic Glide Corps test.
That test, which took place in October at the Pacific Space Complex in Alaska, did not use the two-stage booster rocket that is designed to be part of the system.
A different propellant was used instead, but the failure meant the test failed to provide data on the common hypersonic glide body, the key component needed to develop a hypersonic weapon.
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In May, the Air Force successfully conducted a test of its Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW).
Brigadier General Heath Collins, executive officer of the Air Force weapons program, said it was a "significant achievement" for the service.
The ARRW program had suffered a number of setbacks and delays during its development, including three flight test failures before the most recent success.
In March, the Pentagon successfully tested the hypersonic air-breathing weapon (HAWC) concept, but kept the test secret for two weeks to prevent an escalation of tension with Russia when President Joe Biden was about to travel to Europe.