US tests unarmed hypersonic weapon

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The Pentagon said it tested an unarmed hypersonic weapon in Hawaii, as both China and Russia develop similar military and defence capabilities.

The Department of Defence called the test of the hypersonic glide body last Thursday a success.

After being launched on a rocket to altitudes of between 40 and100 km, a hypersonic glide vehicle detaches and flies at up to five times the speed of sound along the upper atmosphere toward target.

Hypersonic glide vehicles can steer an unpredictable course and manoeuvre as they approach impact. They follow a flatter and lower trajectory than the high, arching path of a ballistic missile.

The Navy and Army jointly executed the launch which “flew at hypersonic speed to a designated impact point,” the Pentagon said in a statement.

The Pentagon’s Missile Defence Agency monitored and gathered tracking data from the flight experiment, to inform its ongoing development of systems designed to defend against adversarial hypersonic weapons, the statement added.

The Pentagon, which tested a similar hypersonic missile in 2017, aims to field hypersonic warfighting capabilities in the early to mid-2020s.