One of the US Army units will be equipped with hypersonic weapons in the next six months, a top military official has said.
Lieutenant General L. Neil Thurgood, Director of the Army’s Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office (RCCTO), has revealed that the US Army has already begun the transfer of the required equipment to the unit to ensure that the preparation for the rigorous training program goes smoothly.
RCCTO enables the US Army to experiment, evolve, and deliver technologies to address both urgent and emerging threats.
According to Defence News, the Army has been working with industry partners to develop the hypersonic weapon glide body. It has also been producing the launchers, trucks, trailers, and battle operation center that will be required for setting up a ground-launched hypersonic weapon battery.
“By the end of this fiscal year, which is in September, all of the equipment that the unit needs plus training will be delivered to the unit,” said Thurgood.
Hypersonic weapons belong to the class of weapons that can travel at a speed faster than Mach 5 or in other words systems that can travel five times the speed of sound.
The supremely fast weapons boast the ability of maneuvering between varying altitudes and azimuths, making them harder to detect.
Hypersonic weapons are considered deadlier than other existing weapons as are they possess the qualities of both ballistic and cruise missiles — which mean they have the speed of a ballistic missile and the maneuverability of a cruise missile.
The weapons have been designed to counter modern ballistic missile defense systems and to deliver conventional and nuclear payloads at high velocities over long ranges.
We support our partners! @SandiaLabs’ knowhow and its Kauai Test Facility helped the @USNavy and @USArmy with a #hypersonic test in March #2020. #YearinReview #YIRhttps://t.co/H80w9LkgPq pic.twitter.com/O4oAheAfbC
— NNSA (@NNSANews) February 4, 2021
These vehicles typically consist of a supersonic combustion Rramjet, or Scramjet propulsion system to enable such high speeds.
A Scramjet engine uses “air-breathing” technology, which means that the engine collects oxygen from the atmosphere while traveling and mixes the oxygen with its hydrogen fuel, creating the combustion needed for hypersonic travel.
For the US Army’s hypersonic capability that will be launched from a mobile truck, American aerospace and defense giant Lockheed Martin has been selected as the weapon system integrator.
Similarly, Dynetics Technical Solutions (DTS), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Dynetics, an American applied science, and information technology company, has been picked to build the hypersonic glide body of the missile.
So far, the name of the Army unit that will be provided with the first hypersonic battery has not been revealed. Thurgood said that the company, battalion, and brigade commanders have already been selected.
According to reports, no live rounds will be provided to the unit until the fiscal year 2023. However, Thurgood told Defense News on Monday (February 8) that he would personally make sure that the first two canisters are delivered for end-to-end kill-chain training.
He added that once the weapon is delivered, the unit will begin training in October to prepare for the first joint flight campaign test scheduled with the US Navy in the first quarter of the fiscal year 2022.
It will be followed by the preparation for subsequent tests in the fourth quarter of the fiscal year 2022 and the second quarter of the fiscal year 2023.